The suggestions I share are things that work for me, some of which I definitely picked up from Lene Andersen and her excellent book, Chronic Christmas, which I recommend to everyone, not just those of us with chronic illnesses, as guidance toward a saner holiday season. I'm due for a reread myself this year.
Unless you find true joy setting the table and washing dishes, use paper plates.
When I was well, I adorned each flat surface in the living room with a nativity and covered the dining room and kitchen in Santa stuff.
I also decorated two trees--one in snowflakes and mittens and the other with the religious ornaments I collect.
Now I put up one or two favorites nativities and decorate my "Jesus Tree." The rest of the house stays uncluttered. My husband appreciates the lack of mess.
I also have two special dishes that are traditional to my family. I make German Stollen for extended family during the week before Christmas and Yorkshire pudding with beef and gravy for Christmas Day.
Those are my requirements for Christmas to be Christmas. Everything else can be simplified or skipped.
4. Prepare ahead.
I look for and make Christmas gifts all year. This spreads out the expense and labor and keeps me away from crowds and craziness. I buy clearance wrapping paper after Christmas and start wrapping a few things at a time. Because I put things I knit into an Etsy store, I have a photo record of gifts that are in my house and already paid for.
Everything can be purchased on line. If you don't enjoy the craziness of holiday shopping you don't have to do it.
Keep that in mind for grocery shopping for other holidays as well. The stores are crowded the evening before. Shop a few days in advance.
Lack of free time before the holidays while teaching got me in the habit, but it still works for me now that I have all free time, but no energy.
I love decorating my Christmas tree. I live with my husband and two adult sons, so I'm the only one who cares that we have one. I have accepted that. It's fun me-time playing with sparkly things.
I've also accepted that with all the bending and reaching, it is an athletic endeavor that needs to be spread out. It usually takes three days. That could be a problem if I waited until mid December, but I start right after Thanksgiving and usually have the boxes back in storage by the end of November.
6. Accept and demand help.
Unless you are inviting friends over for chips and dip and an annual rewatch of Groundhog Day, any party is too much work for one person.
When someone asks what they can bring, assign something. Call close friends and family who don't ask how they can help and tell them how they can help.
My boys now knead and shape the double batch of stollen under my direction. When (if) they move out, I'll except my husband's offer for one of those big Kitchenaid mixers that take up so much counter space.
My menfolk haul boxes up and down stairs and takes care of Christmas lights outdoors and luminaras on Christmas Eve.
7. Accept reality.
No holiday lives up to movie magic. Focus on enjoying who and what you love. Let everything else go.