Christmas is both a wonderful and a stressful time of year for church staff members. You've got Christmas services to plan, decorations to hang, volunteers to recruit (and train), candles and other supplies to order, Facebook ads to create, etc. The list goes on — it might rival Santa's in length!

While it's difficult to avoid the long to-do list this time of year, there are a few things you can do to make life less stressful. Here are four tips for giving yourself the gift of a peaceful Christmas this year:

Tip 1: Plan

If you haven't already started planning your Christmas services, start today. The earlier you start planning and sticking to agreed upon deadlines, the less work you'll have to do the week of Christmas.

The pivotal aspect of the planning process involves getting clear on the vision for what you want to accomplish through Christmas services. That likely means a few discussions with your pastor and/or church leadership team.

If the church staff members aren't 100 percent clear on what the pastor or church leaders want for Christmas services, you'll end up with last-minute scrambling to make changes. Save yourself the hassle by taking the time now to get clear direction.

Tip 2: Be realistic

If your congregation and budget can't accommodate a massive Christmas production, don't stress out trying to make that happen.

You can provide a meaningful presentation of the One we celebrate at Christmas along with the Gospel message without all the bells and whistles. Don't drive yourself and your team into the ground trying to match the megachurch across town.

By the way, even if you do have the resources to do a big production, you don't have to do so. Consider what will attract people to your services and how you can share the love and hope of Christ with them. Use the resources you have at your disposal, but don't get so focused on "big" that you burn out your staff or volunteers.

Tip 3: Consider the year-end giving rush

You'll likely see an increase in giving in December for a couple of reasons. One, people are trying to get in their donations for tax-deductible purposes. Two, some folks are in a giving mode during Christmas.

Prepare to handle this increase by providing a few easy ways for people to give (and for you to record their gifts). Online giving, text-to-give and giving through a church mobile app are all ways to make giving more convenient. Using online tools also reduces the need to make deposits at the bank or deal with bounced checks.

Tip 4: Schedule time off

When you work at a church, you know you'll end up working Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day. However, make sure you schedule time off the week after Christmas to relax and enjoy your family.

While the weeks leading up to Christmas may be a bit hectic, using these tips can help you make life less stressful. Work together as a team, communicate more than you think it necessary (because it is), and pause on occasion to reflect on why you're doing all this work.