Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. But it’s also the most stressful! Throw gift shopping, writing cards, food preparation and family logistics on top of your usual daily tasks, it’s no surprise that more than a few of us dread the festive season.
So, how can you make sure you’re not one of them this year? Here are a few tips to help you hold onto your festive cheer…
You’ve probably already got your presents sorted. (If you haven’t, this tip applies here too!) I was shocked to read in a recent Guardian article that we’re set to spend a record £4.2 billion on food and drink in the week before Christmas. According to another article in The Independent, each UK household wastes 30% more and spends £169 more at Christmas. That’s a lot of food and drink!
Try to plan ahead as much as you can to avoid overspending and excessive food waste. Make a list of what you need and stick to it. Don’t be led astray by supermarket promotions. They’re great at convincing you to buy things you don’t need on a normal day, but they really seem to step up their game at Christmas!
If you’re having a lot of people round, why not ask them to share the burden? You wouldn’t turn up to a dinner party empty handed, so why should Christmas dinner be any different? I’m not saying you ask them to cook the turkey for you, but you could delegate small tasks e.g. someone brings the wine, another picks up some nibbles for the evening. It’ll ease your workload and be kinder on your bank balance!
If you do find you have a lot of waste when it’s all over, try to avoid throwing it away. Make up soups, freeze what you can and if there are still things left, donate them to your local homeless shelter.
Check in with your guests
Pay special attention to all of your guests throughout the day so they know you value their presence. Before you head out and do the food shop though, be sure to ask around to find out if anyone has any special dietary requirements. They might assume you already know and so haven’t mentioned that they’re now gluten, dairy and meat free – which can leave you at a loose end if you haven’t thought ahead!
Turn off the TV
It can be easy to get lazy at Christmas and rely on the TV to keep family and guests entertained. Try doing something a little different this year. Turn off the TV and get everyone involved in a board game or charades – anything that gets people talking and laughing! It’s not often that we get to spend quality time with our extended family, so make the most of it. You can always record that episode of Eastenders to watch on Boxing Day!
Make time for yourself
I know it seems like everything is non-stop when you’re playing host. Just remember that Christmas is supposed to be a merry time,so let yourself enjoy it! The pressure of having relatives all together for a whole day can sometimes lead to tensions, so give yourself breathing room. As the host, you want to keep a cool head so you can quash any squabbles before they escalate. Whether it’s a few minutes of yoga stretches or stepping outside for a few deep breaths, keep checking in with yourself throughout the day to keep calm.
Set an end time
I’m sure I can’t be the only one who’s been in that awkward situation where your guests overstay their welcome!
After a long day of cooking and entertaining, it’s completely acceptable to let your guests know what time you’ll be wrapping things up. Let them know in advance though, so no-one feels abruptly turfed out! It’ll help you manage your time throughout the day and also save you from any frustrations or guilt about asking people to head home.
Christmas does seem to be the time for overindulgence. As tempting as it might be to reach for that second (or third) slice of Christmas cake, try to be more mindful of what you’re eating. Overeating not only stresses your body, but affects your concentration and energy levels – definitely not what you need if you have a house full of people to entertain.
Say thank you
The thank you note seems to be a lost art. I think this is an important one, especially if you have children. Once all the presents have been opened, sit down and write thank you cards. It doesn’t have to be anything long or fancy, just a little note to let people know you appreciate the time and thought they took to buy a gift. It’s a great way to remind children to appreciate what they’ve been given too.
If you can spare the time, why not donate a few hours of your time to a worthy cause? There are so many charities out there that appreciate the extra set of hands at Christmas. It could be assisting in a soup kitchen or visiting the elderly in a care home. I’ll be heading to my local animal rehoming centre on Christmas Eve to help out. There’s nothing like knowing you’ve helped a good cause to get you in the festive spirit.
So, those are a few of my tips for surviving the festive period. Really, I think it’s all about getting back to basics and trying not to get caught up in the need for everything to be perfect. Just take a deep breath, smile and remember this really is a magical time of year.