Even though it's meant to be holiday season, there is no more stressful time of year than now. The kids are off school, and tearing around like lunatics, the extended family is about to descend, and you are up to your elbows in wrapping paper and christmas pudding. Not much fun at all, even with a couple of glasses of bubbly. So how do we minimise the trauma of the Christmas holiday? Well, in the absence of a Christmas miracle, and they don't happen very often, preparation is the key. About six weeks before Christmas, write yourself some lists. Do a present list, a card list, one for each meal you're preparing and a corresponding shopping list, a list of things to take to Aunty Mary's, and a last minute list. Keep your lists accessible, and add and tick off as you go. Diarise dates for pick ups, deliveries and deadlines for orders. Avoid the crush at the supermarket, by ordering groceries online. Put in another order for immediately after Christmas too, for when the fridge is empty and the kids are “starving!” If you can, save time and money by having fruit, vegetables and wine delivered. Remember those lists! Delegating is not a dirty word, and can really take the edge off. Older kids can lay tables, tidy and occupy littlies, and husbands have their uses too! It is perfectly acceptable to ask guests to bring a salad or dessert, and always say “yes” if someone offers to help. There are no extra points for home made cakes, complicated salads or hand painted baubles. Keep things simple, cut corners where you can, and try to enjoy the festivities. Think carefully before inviting guests for breakfast, lunch and dinner, stick to easy recipes (and garnish, if you want a “wow!”), and entertain outside if you can, to avoid mess. Don't forget, this is your holiday too, so try not to spend it all on duty. With all the extra visitors, there are plenty of people to help, so let them, and crack open another bottle of bubbles. Cheers!