It’s natural to want to do everything you can to ensure your family and friends have a special Christmas – but it’s also important to remember that ‘done is better than perfect’.
In the past I remember feeling totally frazzled by the time Christmas Day arrived, and a large part of that was because I was trying to recreate the perfect Christmases I remembered from my childhood.
The problem was that these ‘perfect’ moments weren’t actually perfect – and they certainly hadn’t been planned in advance.
Christmas magic is spontaneous
One of my favourite memories from childhood Christmases was the fun we had when decorating the tree – we were allowed a free rein and it just felt so magical, marking the beginning of the festive season.
I always loved this time, but the absolute standout year was when my younger sister was so excited to get going, she hurtled into the living room so fast she crashed into the as-yet undecorated tree and sent the whole thing flying!
This special memory has nothing to do with how beautiful the tree or the decorations were. I enjoyed it so much because it was spontaneous and hilarious – and because it was a shared experience with the people I loved. It was about how I felt.
It wasn’t perfect as my little sister could have been hurt – but thankfully she (nor the Christmas tree) were harmed.
Perfectionism and procrastination
I’ve also found that continually striving for perfection can lead to procrastination, very last-minute Christmas preparations and lots of stress.
For example, I used to put off starting a task if I wasn’t feeling 100% that day, or didn’t have time to complete the whole thing in one go.
Basically I would procrastinate for any reason I could think of that might mean I couldn’t do the job perfectly. I was afraid of failure.
I’d put things off for so long, I’d end up in a panic and have to rush through multiple tasks at the last minute, some of which I’d inevitably run out of time for.
Since then I’ve learned to accept that it’s better to get something 70% to 80% done than not done at all.
Consider how others feel
It’s also worth thinking about how your perfectionism makes the people around you feel.
Let’s face it, seeing you stressed and exhausted won’t make people who care about you feel happy. I’d put money on them preferring to spend time with the rested and relaxed version of you.
I’ve learned that rather than trying to achieve impossible perfection, it’s far better to settle for less and truly enjoy being with those I love at Christmas.
The pressure to be perfect can also make things feel ‘less fun’ and destroy your creativity – and as a Christmas fan, you should be revelling in the preparations, not feeling inadequate and miserable.
If you’re used to striving for perfection it might seem hard to ‘let go’ and accept that not everything about next Christmas will be 100%.
Tips for positive change
But there are things you can do to make it easier. I’ve used these techniques myself and they’ve definitely helped.
Here are some steps you can take:
- Write ‘Done is better than perfect’ on a note card and stick it to your bathroom mirror or computer so you see it every day. It’ll be a constant reminder of your new way of doing things
- Instead of putting off doing things until the ‘perfect’ time, start whatever you’re avoiding straight away. You might be tired, distracted or only have an hour or two to spare, but it’s far better to get going than it is to delay
- Delegate and allow others to contribute. Accept that they’ll do things ‘imperfectly’. At least it’s one less thing for you to do – and by involving and trusting them, you’ll create a deeper connection and, hopefully, the Christmas magic you’re looking for!
- If something goes wrong, isn’t up to your usual standards or you don’t have time to do something, try to let it go – you can’t control everything. If you’re finding this bit tricky (I know I did), try writing down your feelings, exploring why you wanted whatever it was to be perfect. Was it for you – or was it for others? Did they/will they notice?
- When you’re planning your time, focus on the tasks that are most important to you. Which ones will be the least effort but have the maximum impact? This includes invitations to Christmas social events – you don’t have to go to everything, so don’t be afraid to say no if you don’t have time or don’t want to attend
- Set a limit on the time you’ll spend on each task – and also each element of that task. When you reach that time limit, immediately move on to the next stage and keep going until you’re finished!
- Once you’ve finished a task, try not to be tempted to think it’s not good enough and start again or keep refining until you miss the deadline you set yourself. Celebrate that you’ve got it done, let it go and move on!
- If you start to worry about whether others will think what you’ve done is good enough and these thoughts are holding you back, try reminding yourself that you can’t control what people think of you, but you can control what you do now
- People who love you won’t care if your Christmas preparations are perfect or not; they’ll much prefer to see you happy
- Invest in self-care and don’t feel guilty about it. I find that if I do something relaxing, afterwards I feel refreshed and have renewed enthusiasm for any tasks I need to get done. It saves time and energy in the long run, so try to be as kind to yourself as you are to others.
If you’re a Christmas perfectionist, I hope these tips will help you let go and have more fun next December.
I will receive a small commission on products purchased via affiliate links on this page. This is at absolutely no cost to you and I only suggest products that I would recommend to my friends and family.