`Tis the season of comfort and joy. If your weekend - and next week - is looking crazy uncomfortable, here are our tips for de-stressing. Take things down a notch. Breathe.
Avoid hell the malls

Unless you are a super early bird, you know the malls will be a misery of no carparks, cranky kids and crowds at the cash register. Instead, support your local shopping centre
- all those lovely owner-operated shops with friendly staff, a butcher and baker who know their stuff. If there's a local Trade Aid or op-shop, even better. Rummage for a wee
treasure and know your money is going to help folks in need.

Give chickens, goats and pigs

Free your friends and family from the stress of more stuff in their lives. Go to one
of the gifts that give back websites to buy chickens or goats (or, our favourite, organic poo) to help school kids and farmers in third world villages.

Read more: Four favourite gifts that give back.
Give up


Chances are, if you're this late on the present-buying boat, others in your circle might be too. Do a quick ring around, change the rules to "no presents" (or 'regifting only'') and
suddenly all that present stress has gone.

Sing Sing Sing

Forget all that dreadful Christmas musak we've been listening to for the last eight weeks and plug yourself into some lovely, low-fi carols. Check out the noticeboards outside your local churches or head along to the last of the public Carols by Candelight (Saturday at Little Oneroa Beach, Waiheke; Sunday at Little Shoal Bay, Birkenhead or Stockade Hill, Howick). Auckland Baptist Tabernacle's historic main auditorium has beautiful candlelit services (Christmas Eve, 7pm in Mandarin, 9pm, English; 429 Queen St).

Go for a walk

Nothing like the outdoors and fresh air to get those happy endorphins going. Park the car (or even better get downtown on public transport) and wander the Wynyard Christmas Quarter (until Christmas Eve). Santa's bach may be busy, but check out the public art of the gantry's advent calendar, the Silo markets, let the kids have a splash
and a play, pop some presents under the tree. Walk all the way up to the Franklin
Road lights to avoid the crush and enjoy the pedestrian party.

Check out this weekend's weather and your Christmas Day forecast:

We have your Christmas Day forecast, also a basic travel forecast for Christmas Eve. We also take a detailed look at this weekend’s weather. In a nutshell we’re returning to a spring-like pattern, which will produce “changeable” weather around the country, with some regions having fairly sunny weather and others having rain, showers and cooler winds. A big high is also rolling in towards the end of Christmas Day and into Boxing Day – as people head off on holiday.

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