Christmas … “It’s the most wonderful time of the year ….” Is it really?
We’ve all seen them. The Christmas adverts with the perfect family sitting at the perfectly set Christmas table. All stress free and not a care in the world.
Well I don’t know about you, but our Christmas looks very different. Or at least the run up to the big day does! Stressful shopping for the perfect gift, millions of cards to write, last minute panic as we run short of wrapping paper and sellotape. And don’t even get me started on the food shopping that sees people buy the entire content of the shop. We MUST stock up on at least 5 of each item because the shop is closed for a day.
How to have a stress free Christmas
Last year I told my kids: “I’m going to be organised. I will have all my cards written by the end of October.” Neither of them believed me, but I’m on schedule this year. And I’m feeeeeling good. That’s one thing ticked off the list. But there’s plenty more you can do to get ahead of the game and make the run up to Christmas that little bit easier and stress free.
Here are some tips:
But your cards in the sale
Now, I know. By the time Christmas is over, you’re all Christmassed out. But this is a great time to get some good quality cards at good prices. Check out who sent you a card this year – that will give you an idea of how many you will need to buy. Get them in the sales and put them with your Christmas card list. When you’re ready to write your cards next year, you’ll have everything to hand and have them ready well before the Christmas carols start hitting the shops.
Check and double check your decorations
This is a real bugbear of mine. Every year we seem to be buying the whole of Liverpool Illuminations! We buy electric powered lights, more lights that run on batteries, and then some more lights to replace some broken lights. Check out the decorations when you take them down. Are they still in working order? Great! Wrap these up and box them away. Label them if you feel the urge. If they are not working or you don’t like them (we all have those items; We take them down from the loft, look at them and shove them back in the box) – throw them out. Schools, charity shops or local hospitals may be grateful for them as long as they are in working order. Again, get some replacement bits in the sale. Last year I bought about £100 of Christmas stuff for £20. Well worth it!
Have some cards and presents on standby
Don’t you just love it? Just when you thought you’d wrapped everything and covered all bases, one of the neighbours pops in with a bottle of prosecco. “We’ve never done presents, but I thought it’d be a nice gesture .. Just because..” It’s happened to us a few times. I now keep some bottles of wine in Christmas holders by the front door. I’m sure anyone visiting thinks I’ve got a drinking problem. That way, when they pop round we reciprocate with a “Oh, how lovely – I was just popping yours round..” I pop their card in and voila! Sorted.
Write your shopping list early
If you start early, you can add to it. You’re more likely to remember everything you need if you’ve had some time to mull over your list. Look at recipes, make sure you’ve got all the ingredients covered. And don’t do what we did one year where I’d done the shopping, but my dear husband popped out for some last minute “bits”. He pretty much doubled up on most of what we already had. Stick to the list. Even better, get your delivery slot booked for online shopping for all those items that you can store. That way, you only have to pop out and get the fresh stuff and avoid those long queues!
Make the house Christmas clean
Schedule in some time to get the house clean and Christmas ready. Now, I’ll be honest – I don’t spend a lot of time going overboard on the cleaning. Sure, the house is clean and tidy, but I don’t opt for a massive “spring-clean” in December. I love putting the decorations up and I find that Christmas decorations cover a multitude of sins. However, some care and attention to get things clean for when your guests arrive on the big day is a good idea. Break it down into a schedule over a few weeks. It makes it less daunting and more achievable.
Dig out the board games
Have (board) games on standby for little (and big) visitors. It’s a great way of distracting your visitors while you can crack on with preparing dinner. If you don’t have any board games, look up some game ideas online. There are loads of games around and especially ideas for card games for young and old are endless.
Use dinner hacks
Now I’m sure some people love making their own roast potatoes, parsnips with all the trimmings. If you love doing it; you go for it! However, for some of us the thought of having to peel, parboil and roast their spuds is enough to get out the “bah humbug” apron. In that case, opt for some pre-prepared good quality frozen options. It saves you a load of time, effort and stress. And chances are, your guests have had a few to drink by that stage and won’t notice the difference!
Don’t set your expectations too high. Whatever seems like a disaster on the day will most likely be a funny event to look back on in years to come. I know we’ve certainly had some, but now these “disasters” make for good entertainment and discussion at the Christmas dinner table.
And finally – Have fun! – Christmas should be about spending time with friends and family. There’s nothing that helps to relieve stress like laughter. Do what you enjoy; play some games, watch television, share some jokes. After all, it’s one of the only times of the year that we all take some time out to re-connect. You’ve done all the planning and hard word. Now allow yourself to have some fun!