There’s a huge consumer pressure to produce the “Perfect Christmas”: all those magazine articles about this year’s Christmas tree and the perfect table centrepiece… Not to mention the pressure to have every meal planned for a fortnight, each of which has enough calories for an entire day! It’s not just about finding the perfect present for everyone from your relatives to the postman; you also have to wrap it beautifully with hand made wrapping paper and ribbon. It’s enough to make anyone long for January (even if you will then have to start your post-Christmas diet and exercise plan).
Our own expectations can add to the pressure. My mum gave a great Christmas, but I struggled to keep up her traditions while working full time. I realised I had to re-visit my expectations or I would end up slaving away to preserve a Christmas I was too exhausted to actually enjoy. Out went making fudge and toffee, and our German Christmas breakfast plates (don’t ask!). Surviving traditions include stockings (yes, even for the adults) and the turkey meal. New traditions have also been created; like the cross-stitch advent calendar lovingly made by Grandma and given to us when the children were tiny.
So why not take a deep breath and relax? You don’t have to join in the seasonal craziness. Take a few minutes to talk with anyone you’re sharing Christmas with and think about what you love about this time of year. When we first did this, surprisingly our children talked about opening stockings, playing games together and generally having more family time – not just getting presents.
So how to tackle Christmas? If you’ve worked with me already you’ll know my mantra: “Less in; More out; Organise”
- Avoid magazines and TV programmes about Christmas if you know you’re susceptible to consumer pressure. Maybe this year is the year to make an agreement with other family members to limit what you spend – or do a secret Santa? If you are trying to avoid unwanted pressies encourage people to give edibles or time (a trip to the theatre will leave you with more memories than the latest gadget).
- Be ready to say ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ to social events you don’t want to attend. Remember the goal is to enjoy Christmas!
- If you have children, get them to sort through their room and fill a box with things they don’t play with, to make space for new toys and encourage generosity and an awareness that other people may be less fortunate than them.
- Sort your winter coats, gloves and hats and take any you don’t wear to charity (there are people who would really benefit from your unwanted wool coat).
- December is a great time to de-clutter your fridge and freezer: toss all the out of date pickles and unidentifiable freezer bags and eat up any bulky items so you leave plenty of space for Christmas food and leftovers.
- Keep a present list for family/ friends on your phone or in your handbag, so you remember what you’ve bought (try and avoid buying things which are poor quality).
- Plan the big meals, and maybe have a couple of meals in the freezer – but don’t get sucked into shopping for the Apocalypse – it’s only a couple of days! Create a food list you can save on your computer and use for a single big online shop.
- If you like making things, get friends around, or do it with children so that it becomes part of the festivities rather than a chore.
Finally, be sure all that effort you’re making is going towards making your Christmas special to you and the people you are spending it with. Enjoy!
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