Christmas, as Andy Williams reminds us annually, is the most wonderful time of the year! When I recently asked the children I teach what they think of when they think of Christmas they said:
toys, presents, fun, snow, Father Christmas, chocolate, movies
When I asked some adults they added the following to my list:
lights, decorations, laughter, baubles, turkey, family
But there were some (the Scrooges and Grinches of the world) who said:
stress, arguing, mess, debt
Whenever I mention Christmas to people I get one of two reactions. People are either as giddy and excited as I am or they groan at the thought of it. Personally, I’ve never understood how people don’t love Christmas. It’s such a lovely time of year and the lead up to it is so exciting! However, I understand that for many, Christmas and the days before are stressful and tiring. But, December is here and it is bringing Christmas with it. Love it or loathe it, you may as well prepare for it. So before you tear into a Cadbury’s selection box in order to get through the day, read on for some helpful strategies to help you get through the Yuletide season.
- Plan ahead. Is there anything you can cook beforehand? When will you get the kids presents wrapped? What time will you put the bird in the oven? Answering these questions ahead of time will help the 25th and the days leading up to Christmas run smoothly. Make a list everything that you need to do, buy and prepare and decide when you will get it all done. Obviously don’t kick yourself if you deviate from the plan, but having a plan will make you feel much more calm and relaxed.
- Spend wisely! A lot of shops have sales and offers on in the lead up Christmas. So don’t buy the gifts on your list at the first place you see them! Look online and shop around for the best deals. Whatever you save, put aside and treat yourself: A Christmas gift to you from you!
- Lower your expectations! Christmas is a lovely time of year but we all have unrealistic ideas of what it should look like. We see dreamy, wintery scenes on cards and hope that our Christmas will be as magical. Nearly every magazine you buy this time of year will have articles telling you how to prepare the ‘perfect’ Christmas dinner or how to host the ‘perfect’ Christmas party. By all means read these articles and take some helpful tips, but try not to set your expectations too high. Your Christmas gathering may not be as perfect as the ones you see in the movies, but it will be yours and it will be great however it turns out.
- There are no rules at Christmas! A lot of people put pressure on themselves to repeat their Christmas traditions year on year. For some, they might be simple but for others they can be expensive and time consuming. It may be that you are putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. If you live in a house that is visited each night by a naughty elf, maybe tell the kids that he/she will visit every night but may sometimes leave chocolates or a homemade card rather than playing an elaborate trick on the kids such as turning the milk in the fridge green or gift wrapping the toilet. I’m not suggesting that you do away with all Christmas traditions, but I am suggesting that you take the time to think about whether you need to do them the way you always have.
The Big Day!
- If you have family coming over, plan for the worst! Family members who don’t get on probably won’t get on over Christmas. The Uncle who gets drunk every year will most likely drink too much this year too and someone is bound to utter the dreaded words, ‘Is the food ready yet?’ Just remember, everyone is inside one house and has plenty of time to talk and wind each other up. Don’t take it personally and don’t let it ruin your day if it happens.
- Don’t worry about what others are doing. Just because your neighbours turn up with an expensive bottle of wine for you, it doesn’t mean you must return the favour. If your sister buys you a pricey gift, don’t feel bad about making her some Christmas fudge if your budget it tight. Nobody should give to receive and you shouldn’t feel pressured into spending silly amounts of money if you can’t afford to.
- Think of yourself! Stay hydrated – water not mulled wine! Take a few minutes for yourself, even if it’s just a few minutes walking around the garden. Let others get involved and help out in the kitchen so that you can relax and enjoy the day too. Delegate! If you don’t ask for help, nobody will know you need any.
- Enjoy yourself! No matter how big or small the role you play in the planning, preparation and execution of Christmas, you have the right to enjoy it. Make sure that you sit down with the friends and family that you are with and enjoy some time catching up. Watch the cheesy Christmas movie that you watch every year and don’t you dare feel guilty about having another piece of Christmas pudding!
Remember, Christmas is just one day! If you are fortunate enough to be surrounded by the people you love then cherish those moments. If you forget to buy a present for your second cousin or the parsnips get a little bit burnt, it isn’t the end of the world and certainly isn’t going to ruin Christmas.
Guest Post by Claire