Be honest! With so few days to go till 25th December, does the thought of Christmas drive you crackers? Would you rather that the festive season was more mistletoe and less whine?
Here are ten top tips for a cracking, stress-free Christmas…
1. Christmas is bound to be a hectic time for all concerned. So a key feature is to get enough sleep and rest as possible in the weeks leading up to the big event. And if you’re not getting enough sleep, make a point of listening to a CD of relaxing music before bed. Sleeping well is key to make sure you’re relaxed and energised for the busy weeks ahead.
2. When it comes to Christmas plans, an important ingredient for success is just that: plan, plan, plan. Never underestimate how long it will take to buy little Johnny’s special limited edition train set, or how long it will take to choose your father-in-law something more original than socks! Buy early and save stress on the present front later.
For all of the tasks, whether it’s buying Christmas trees and presents or making the Christmas pud, get the family involved. Make a colourful chart and stick it to the fridge, and work out together who will do what chore. Breaking the whole task into manageable chunks will make Christmas plans go that much easier. Remember, many hands make Christmas light work.
3. Christmas can be an expensive time for all concerned. So now’s a good time to be looking for discounts from online companies such as Groupon and Living Socials. Buying in bulk is the key to keep expenses down and do remember to budget. After all, there’s nothing worse than ending Christmas broke and in debt.
Another way to keep costs down is by making home-made gifts. From home-made chocolates and jam to hand-knitted jumpers, personalised gifts can be of high value to the recipient while keeping costs low.
4. Christmas is a time for celebration, not for stress. If you’re finding the thought of Christmas stressful, now is a great time to learn some relaxation techniques. Learn to take seven long, slow, deep breaths first thing every morning and any time throughout the day when you feel you need to. It has also been shown that regular deep breathing actually causes beneficial changes in the brain, and makes it much easier for you to deal with stress. So now, when it comes to thinking about Christmas, you can breathe easy.
5. Everyone has Great Expectations for Christmas but it can be precisely those high expectations that can cause people to become stressed. Take a few minutes out of your day, to sit down, close your eyes and visualise how, ideally, you would like the day to go. Picture the smiling faces of your family, see the Christmas dinner turning out perfectly, see everyone happy with their presents and, most of all, see yourself feeling relaxed and happy. Do this every day, and soon you’ll be merrily singing A Christmas Carol or two to yourself as you go.
6. They say there are more divorces and relationship break-ups after Christmas than at any other time of the year. Let’s face it, family ties can be pushed to the limit, spending so much time together under one roof. Whether it’s your nearest or dearest, in-laws or far-flung relations, pressing your buttons, you need to be prepared to keep everyone full of Christmas cheer.
It’s important that people can be as involved as they want to be or opt out if necessary. After all, maybe Grandpa doesn’t want the kids riding on his back as part of the after-dinner entertainment but is too polite to say so. Maybe Auntie Jean only feels useful when she’s criticising your Brussels sprouts and showing you how she would make them. Don’t let these comments knock the Christmas stuffing out of you. Be polite, be firm and soon you’ll be laughing all the way.
Always have some distractions at the ready. If the kids are starting to get tetchy – extra little games or more Xmas crackers are always helpful. And let well-meaning relatives help you in the kitchen. You are not Superman/Woman and you don’t have to prove otherwise.
Some affirmations you might want to practise out loud in the weeks before Christmas are “My home is a happy home for all who enter in it” and “I am good enough,” and, above all, always bear in mind the true message of Christmas. It’s not about the presents and getting frazzled in the kitchen, it’s about the message of peace and love and that starts with you.
7. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, be sure to make your home a happy and calm place. A few drops of lavender oil are perfect for creating a relaxing atmosphere: whether as a room spray, or put on the pillow or in the bath, the scent of lavender will really soothe yourself and your family. Another calming treat is a cup of chamomile tea before bed. Just the thing to help you drop off for a relaxing, silent night.
Keeping your home clean, tidy and clutter-free will really help your home look an inviting, relaxing place. So now’s a great opportunity to start de-cluttering. Also putting and keeping things in the right place will really pay dividends so you’re not rushing round looking for scissors and string to wrap presents at the last moment.
8. You’re going to want everything to run smoothly on the big day. So now’s the time to get your boiler serviced and to make sure that all electrical items are running well. Nothing worse than finding you’ve no hot water or your oven’s not working on Christmas Day. Other tips are to make sure you have enough batteries for toys to avoid any disappointments on the big day.
9. Of course, not everyone will be spending time with family at Christmas. Many people will be on their own at Christmas. If you’re on your own, think of volunteering to help an organisation like Crisis who will be looking for volunteers to help the homeless enjoy Christmas. Or maybe you’d like to invite an elderly person to spend Christmas with you who would otherwise be on their own. Spread the season of good will to those in your community and you will surely spread happiness and be a Christmas Star!
10. Enjoy yourself, it’s Christmas! Take lots of photos to remember this special day. After all, if you have enough food to eat, a roof above your head and you’re spending time with loved ones, then what could be better? Count your blessings, enjoy the day and, let someone else do the washing up, while you put your feet up. After all, you’ve earned it! Merry Christmas!