I find it much less stressful to focus on the season, rather than one or two days--that puts a lot of pressure to make things "perfect." Something I've been doing for almost 30 years is decorating all December long. I start by putting up one decoration a day until about a week or so before Christmas. Then the tree goes up and all the rest, too. My kids help, so it makes things feel festive for a very long time.
I also have been making "necessary" purchases and using them as Christmas gifts. For example, my kids each needed new sheets last year, so Santa brought them. Pajamas, new clothes, hats/mittens--anything that can be wrapped can be a gift! And giving gifts that are useful--maybe stationary with a book of forever stamps--is always appreciated in our family.
We've started a tradition of doing something outdoorsy on Christmas Day as well. Last year, we went snowshoeing, and then had hot cocoa with candy canes as mixers after. It gets us out of the house and that usual "let down" doesn't happen. My husband cooks our Christmas Eve dinner, and I do Christmas Day--we each have our own traditional menus that we simply can't give up! So, there's no need to choose who has the better tradition, which is extremely stressful!
I hate to travel for Christmas, so we usually are on our own home base. We have a story in our house (started by my own mother) that Santa won't stop if the house is messy. So, after dinner Christmas Eve, we have a house cleaning blitz. It's SO nice to wake up Christmas morning and have a clean, tidy house!
As the arc of history bends towards justice, it's a new, more progressive day. --Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, 11-07-12