Many people find Christmas a stressful time and this is often to do with expectations. We all worry about getting the right gifts for people, preparing the perfect Christmas dinner, getting the house ready and spending concentrated time with extended family.
To help you have a fun Christmas rather than a frazzled one here are our tips for keeping the pressure off.
The festive season shouldn’t be about spending up big on costly gifts and overspending on expensive food – it’s about enjoying the company of family and friends. Often, inexpensive but thoughtful gifts are the ones people treasure receiving the most.
Make sure that you have conversations with your family and friends about everyone’s expectations of Christmas well in advance. That way you can deal with any difficult demands and make compromises that suit everyone.
If you're worried about the cost of Christmas, you could also set some spending limits for gifts or come up with ideas for presents that don't need to be bought; for example washing the car or making someone breakfast in bed.
Forget the bling - Children are often given a lot of presents which are forgotten about a few days after Christmas so don’t spend too much money on the latest toys and gadgets.
Delegate, delegate, delegate
Don’t be afraid to ask your guests for help. We can all fall into the trap of wanting to be the perfect host, but in reality, hosting Christmas Day can be very demanding. It’s no fun being stuck alone and stressed out in the kitchen on Christmas Day, especially as with a bit of luck it will be a nice day and much more enjoyable to be outside.
Asking people to help can make everyone feel involved. Children really like to feel helpful, so get them involved with handing round snacks or setting the table. Or you can Share the cooking duties, why don’t you invite friends and family to bring a plate – not only does it share the load it shares the cost.
Get organised early
If you’re hosting Christmas, it’s always a good idea to do some prep beforehand – simple things like making (or buying!) the food early or wrapping presents the weekend before can really help.
Also Grab a pen and make lists for the jobs you need to do, presents to buy and groceries you’ll need on the day. Then ask your family and friends to each put their name to something. You can stick this up at home and even get the kids to decorate it with Christmas pictures or stickers.
You can also use this to start a Christmas budget and stick to it.
Planning a menu early and writing down the ingredients you need can stop impulse buying at the supermarket. Consider what food you can prepare in advance and possibly even freeze in preparation for the big day.
Take a breather
Don’t let exercise take a back seat over the festive season. Make time for a walk on your favourite beach or in a nearby park away from the Christmas madness. Even a quick walk around the block will help you relax and think more clearly.
We all hope to play happy families at Christmas, but it doesn’t always work out that way. So, going for that Christmas Day walk can also break up any tension. If you’re worried your guests might not get on, go for a walk in the afternoon to break things up a little. This gives everyone the chance to chat to someone different, or even to stay at home to cool down. Equally, you can always ask a guest to make drinks, or help out with the kids in order to break up any potential conflict. If you know certain people don’t get on, speak to them beforehand and explain how important to you it is to have a harmonious day.
It’s OK to say no
As well as talking to your family about what they want to happen at Christmas be honest about what you want to do too. If you want to turn something down, explain why you don’t want to do it, and have a suggestion ready for an alternative. For example instead of taking on all the cooking you could suggest a ‘bring and share’ meal so that everyone takes a share of the work.
Don’t be afraid to turn down a party invitation or Christmas event. The festive season can get busy and stressful if you’re trying to fit too much into your week. You can always take a rain check and organise to catch up in the new year when you will all have more time on your hands.
It's your Christmas too
Christmas Day can whizz by in a festive blur without you so much has sniffing a glass of fizz or pulling a cracker because you’re frantically trying to make everything perfect for everyone else. Remember that it’s your Christmas too and you should be able to enjoy it. Make a timetable for the day so that there are regular times when you can sit down and talk with everyone or play with the children.
AND finally…try to remember, Christmas is just one day of the year, and although many of us would like for it to run smoothly, often the most reminisced about Christmas’s are ones when things didn’t run quite as expected. Use the day to relax and enjoy the people around you, reflect on the year that was and look forward to summer and the excitement a new year brings.