06/01/2011 11:22 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Is All The Christmas Stress Really Worth It?

Santa's Little Helpers have obviously been working overtime this year.

Supermarket shelves have been stacked with mince pies for weeks, Christmas cards appeared in the shops way back in August and the festive lights were strung up before Bonfire Night.

It feels like the Christmas countdown is starting earlier every year – and those extra weeks of preparation are sending our seasonal stress levels soaring.

When I think back to my childhood, Christmas was all about decorating the (fake) tree with last years' decorations, tucking into a tasty (frozen) turkey and spending the afternoon demolishing a selection box of chocolates and watching TV.

And when I'm asked about the best Christmases I've had, I invariably think back to those golden years when adults and children alike treated the festive season as good excuse to have a nice sit down.

But these days you can forget about Heavenly Peace – because you're more likely to find that your Comfort and Joy is seriously compromised by a Christmas to-do list that would bring Mrs Claus out in a cold sweat.

If you've got kids, then you need to start tracking down this year's must-have toys no later that September – otherwise they sell out and you'll end up paying three times the price on eBay.

If you don't want to deal with the horror of the Christmas supermarket shop then it's best to order online – but the delivery slots are all booked up by the end of November, so you'll need to be quick of the mark.

We've got Nigella telling us to soak our very expensive organic, free-range KellyBronze turkey overnight, before boiling up a free-range festive ham in a vat of cranberry juice.

And Delia has produced a handy kit with measured out ingredients to bake our own Christmas cake – because buying one ready made isn't an option if you want to have a perfect Christmas, right?

In fact, you'd better forget about buying anything ready made.

If you're a parent, then you'll be busy running up a nativity costume for your child out of an old sheet, a couple of tea towels and some tinsel – and staying up half the night to bake cupcakes for the school Christmas Fayre.

If you're sending Christmas cards, homemade really is the only way to go – so you'd better stock up on glitter and stencils.

And if you think you can get away with decking your halls with boughs of holly, then think again.

Kirstie Allsopp wants us to make our own candles and knit our own Christmas tree (probably), only to decorate it with star-shaped biscuits (homemade) and personalised glass baubles.

It's not even as if all this festive DIY is likely to save us any money – a survey by debit card company Switch found that Britons plan to spend an average of £868 on Christmas this year, and we're spending more than ever on food, drink and decorations.

But is all this expense and frantic preparation really worth it?

In 20 years from now, is anyone going to remember your posh turkey, stunning table centerpiece, artfully constructed Christmas wreath or your homemade crackers?

Probably not.

So this year, if you don't want to have a nightmare before Christmas, take a few tips from the big guy in the red suit – he is something of an expert.

Firstly, leave everything till the last minute. Secondly, enlist an army of helpers. And finally – and most importantly – when it all starts to get a bit too much, take some time out for a glass of sherry and a mince pie.

After all, if it's good enough for Santa, it's good enough for us.

Ho, ho, ho!

By: Ceri Roberts