The build up to Christmas starts with the X-Factor in August.
The Holiday takes over our lives and expectation builds, until ultimately we hit an almost inevitable anti-climax on Boxing Day. Here are a few tips for surviving Christmas this year.
1. Keep your expectations reasonable.
For some reason, we expect Christmas to be entirely different from our usual lives. This is insane. You do not suddenly live in Downton Abbey or share a home with Brad Pitt, and his staff. Do not get sucked into believing that Christmas Day will be markedly different from any other and have sensible expectations. Hopefully, you will enjoy a delicious Christmas lunch (basically a large Sunday roast) and if we’re lucky, we might have a few nice presents. Other than that, our homes and the people we share them with remain the same.
2. Remember the 80 / 20 rule.
If you are organising Christmas for your family, or visiting someone else, it is natural to want everything to be perfect. The pressure we pile on ourselves is compounded by the articles we read and the TV we watch. Try and focus on what is important and do not spend too much of your energy on small details that are not appreciated. Aim for 80% quality and do not worry about the other 20% which won’t matter anyway. Rationalise the recipes, and other articles, you tear out of magazines and make them work for your family, and your routine.
3. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
With just under 2 weeks to go to Christmas, there is still plenty of time to get organised so that you can relax on Christmas Eve, stress free. Make a shopping list, not forgetting Boxing Day, so that you don’t have to make multiple supermarket trips. It’s not too late to have last-minute presents delivered. Again, make a list so that you minimise your delivery costs and the hassle of waiting for your deliveries to arrive. Cook as much as you can in advance, and make simple one-pot dishes instead of tricky things which need to be made at the last minute. Jugs of cocktails save you from having to mix lots of individual drinks, and guest are more than happy to help themselves to drinks from a big ice bucket.
4. Give Christmas Day some structure.
Those that know me well know I am all about routine and structure (ha) but on Christmas Day there is much to be said for a mini-timetable that lets everyone know what is going on and when, and that caters for all tastes. For example, provide time for energetic members of the family to have a walk outside or a kick about. If there are older members of your family who need a break from children, or a quick nap, make it happen. Importantly, let people know when they will be eating and drinking as nothing sets people off on a cranky path like low blood sugar levels.
5. Bite your tongue. Christmas should be a happy time, spent with family and friends.
It makes me really sad when I hear about big feuds that escalate from small things. Once said, things cannot be taken back. You do not live in a soap opera so if something is annoying you, have a break from the situation or phone a friend. Do not say or do anything you will regret. Christmas only comes once a year but careless words can last a lifetime.