Christmas is by far my favorite holiday ever and not just because it’s about the presents. For me, Christmas isn’t just about one big day, it starts much earlier than that. Starting from the weekend after Thanksgiving in November all my decorations come out of the attic to be draped and sprinkled across each room of my house. Instantly you can feel the festive cheer and the spring in my step looking forward to the whole month of December which is full of family adventures and memories waiting to be made. The general public seem to be full of jolly during this time too. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. (excuse the sing-song). There are sleigh rides and Santa’s grottos to be seen, shopping and christmas markets to be experienced, and all the lights to be adored. Having listed all the magical things I love about December and Christmas time, it also can be very stressful.
It’s a time of year where you have to budget tight, plan well, stay organized and keep checking those “to do’ lists once or twice. I have had really chilled out Christmases and some very chaotic Christmases in the past and I always like to stick to my top Christmas tips to keep the latter from happening ever again. Why not make your Christmas this year a stress free one and follow my lead.
1. START SHOPPING EARLY:
I like to start shopping for family and friends in late October and November. Black Friday in November is perfect to get all those items at bargain prices. I shop online a lot these days for the holidays and leave the window shopping for Christmas market days so I don’t have to haul around bags in my arms in the cold. It also helps spread the cost of Christmas out, shopping little by little. Online shopping helps when you have a few little ones that don’t take to shopping all day.
2. DECORATE THE HOUSE WITH CHRISTMAS MUSIC:
I always have Christmas music playing in the background while I am decorating the house for the holidays. It really puts me in the festive mood and the kids love to sing and dance around to it too. I like making the day we decorate, a really special day with a big family breakfast first. We usually end up watching our first Christmas movie of the year that evening after the house is decorated.
3. MAKE CHRISTMAS GIFTS OR TREE ORNAMENTS:
I am a huge fan of making homemade gifts for loved ones too. I am notorious for my various flavored Fudge recipes all packaged neatly with a bow for my neighbors and friends too. If you are crafty make some festive picture frames or crochet a present they will remember. Not all presents need to be purchased. For a fun family project why not make some tree ornaments instead of buying new ones. It makes for a fun activity as much as great Christmas memories. I always feel like there is more love and thought into a homemade gift or decoration.
4. PLAN YOUR MEAL AHEAD:
I like to write a list of what we are eating for our big Christmas dinner and put times next to each on how long to cook them. That way I can schedule my double ovens and know when to put things in and take things out to have everything ready and hot at the same time. It’s taken a few years to get it down right.
5. SET YOUR TABLE EARLY:
The night before I always create a beautiful Christmas tablescape for dinner. I lay crackers in between linens and plates while I set champagne flutes next to the dinner glasses and cutlery. I love creating a beautiful table setting that will make the whole room feel merry and bright. I have even been known to do it a few days ahead of any holiday. I like to be prepared and have it set for those unexpected early arriving guests too. No one likes to rush setting the table while trying to play hostess.
6. WRITE OUT DECEMBER ACTIVITIES:
If you have kids, it’s easier and less stressful to use a monthly calendar on the fridge for Christmas activities. We use a large planner for all our family ‘to do’s and appointments” but during December I like to use one solely for the festive things we have planned. Most families, if you have a child in school it will be full with school nativity plays, Christmas fairs, pantos, and more and if your children aren’t in school yet it could be full of nursery nativity plays, playgroup parties and parents evening. Either way, there are a lot of dates to remember to the lead up to Christmas day. Let’s add in seeing Santa, visiting the Christmas markets, seeing friends and family too, and your calendar will surely be bursting.
7. DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALL:
It’s so easy to get wrapped up into the festivities and say “yes” to everything and think you can manage it all sanely. It’s a time to step back and reflect on the year and not get so flustered that you can’t enjoy the holiday. I am notorious to attempt this and the last two years I have really done more with charities and giving back then trying to out do myself of what I did last year for friends and family. We stopped doing Christmas cards and instead donate the money we used to spend in postage every year (over £100 in postage I am an expat after all) to a charity. I say, no, to a few invites for nights out during the holidays not because I don’t want to go out and celebrate but because I simply can’t be burning the night oil and the day oil at the same time. I want to rest and be with my kids in the wind down to the new year. Sometimes we can burn ourselves out quickly trying to do it all and end up starting the new year exhausted and run down.
8. STAY CALM:
Families getting together can be stressful, shopping can be frustrating, cooking for everyone can be overwhelming but Christmas is about what we are grateful for and who is in our lives to share it. Stay calm no matter what, is my motto, even when things don’t go smoothly or the turkey gets burnt or Aunt Betty had too many drinks and is judging you. It’s time to relax, be with loved ones, who ever they are family or friends, and to recharge our batteries for the new year ahead.
Do you have a Christmas tip? Would love to hear it in the comments below. How about a checklist like mine that you follow each year to make sure you have a stress free, happy Christmas? TSB are sharing their 12 Tips of Christmas here too. Sometimes it just takes a little more planning and organizing to make the holidays truly seem magical and relaxing.
*collaboration with TSB