Are you a perfectionist?
Are thoughts about Christmas decorations hijacking your enjoyment of the Christmas season? Christmas is the season of expectation. And if things need to be 'just right' this can lead to significant stress.
How do you feel about your Christmas decorations? Do you suffer from tree envy? Do you judge your decorations as not being coordinated or new? Or perhaps you love the hand made decorations and are proud of them. Do you think maybe you should 'do' Christmas lights, or get new Christmas lights? Maybe your tree needs updating?
Is decorating a source of stress or enjoyment?
Have a look at the Christmas tree image below. How do you feel? Inspired, deflated, amazed, jealous?
If you feel inspired, peaceful, in awe that's fantastic.
However, if you are feeling jealous, despairing or annoyed, that's just as valid. We are constantly sold on the magic of Christmas with beautiful perfect images. You and I both know that that is not how real people live! And you can turn yourself inside out with trying to match this.
I have been through the whole putting up the tree journey.
For many years the children fought over who would put the star on the top and took it in turn each years, often accompanied by tears. They took great pride taking the decorations out and placing them on the tree. I used to be a little concerned with how 'bizarre' everything looked and secretly moved some decorations around after they finished.
Now? Well I was out for an hour, came back and the tree was up. No star. I asked where the star was. My youngest found it and put it on the tree... Just like that.... I actually kind of miss the fight, it reflects how important it was for them.
Here are three tips that you may find useful at reducing decoration perfectionism.
The number one way to reduce Christmas stress was to ask yourself and your family what was the one thing they looked forward to and enjoyed about Christmas.
Tip no 1. My first tip on reducing decoration perfectionism is to remind yourself of what you and your family love about Christmas.
Tip no 2. Look at how what you are thinking about your Christmas decorations. Is your thinking realistic? If your thinking revolves around comparison with others, wishful thinking and a sense of not being good enough.... take a step back. Is it more important to put the decorations on the tree that your child has made at kindergarten or for the baubles too match?
Tip no 3. Check whether you and your children are enjoying the decorations and tree. If not, it's time for a rethink. What is most important to you about Christmas. Is it how great the tree is? If that is actually really important to you, maybe you could have two trees - one for you and one for the children. If it's not actually that important, release the thoughts and the feelings so they no longer are hijacking your Christmas!
Bonus tip If you are not enjoying your decorations, and/or have too much, think about those that are the most important to you and your family and give the others away. Too much clutter - even if it's Christmas clutter - can be overwhelming.
So, if you find yourself being swept away by the need for perfection, judging your decorations and lack of colour coordination and thinking you don't have enough time to do it right. Check your thinking! Don't let unrealistic expectations hijack your Christmas spirit.
For over 17 years, I have combined research and the experience of working with 1000s of children, adolescents and parents to help them understand and manage big emotions and create calmer homes. Homes where big feelings are understood, needs are met, and relationships strengthened, so that Christmas can be celebrated, not dreaded.
You are welcome to book a private consultation to for some extra support this time of the year, where I can work with you to discuss your concerns and your goals and work with me to make the change you are looking for.
Until next time, take care of yourself
Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds
*updated 3rd November 2023
* These articles are provided by Kim Ross, Psychologist for general information and education . They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Ross is an Online Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds and Private Practice Sustainability.