I love Christmas, I really do. But.....but.....it just gets so incredibly stressful. There is so much to think about from the shopping and expense to the numerous school activities.
This time I'm determined things will be different. December will pass by in a blissful haze of gingerbread house making interspersed with beautiful present wrapping. Hopefully.
I would like to really enjoy the season, which seems to start earlier and earlier each year, instead of collapsing into bed in the wee small hours of Christmas morning only to be woken a mere hour later by five over-excited children.
To this end I have been thinking about how I'm going to enjoy this festive utopia I have playing in my head.
Here's how I hope to manage this.
- Budget: Boring but vital. I do tend to get carried away but this year I'm determined to stick to one. Children really don't need lots, the house gets full of plastic and it's not good for the environment.
- Shop online: Battling the crowds is really stressful, especially when you discover the shop has sold out of this year's must-have My Little All Singing Pony Princess, or whatever it is. I plan to do it from home but will obviously have to get cracking on this.
- Get help with the Christmas dinner: I'm not too fazed by this, despite us ending up most years with a turkey the size of a toddler. Hubby helps so it's a team effort, but I also cheat with ready-made stuffing, gravy and bread sauce.
- Avoid magazines/perfect Christmas features: I usually love magazines but at this time of the year I avoid them like the plague due to their visions of perfection that I could never achieve.
- Wrap as you go: This is essential and one I hardly ever stick to so that come 48 hours before Christmas day I am faced with a pile of presents the size of a mountain.
- Get organised: Lots of rolls of sticky tape, enough tags and paper and knowing where the scissors are all help to make wrapping less of a chore. Similarly, remembering where you've hidden the presents is also good.
- Ignore smug people: There's always at least one who delights in telling you they had everything done and dusted by Halloween. While I'm ecstatic for them, I do find such conversations a bit annoying. I mean, what's the point of telling people? To make us feel bad? Or to make themselves feel even more smug?
- Sing carols: This is a must-do for me, even if it means me standing on my own in the freezing cold at an open-air carol concert. I will move heaven and earth to sing badly at the top of my voice at this time of year.
- Play Christmas music loud and often: I like to have the CDs in the car from 1 December. It does seem to be uplifting, even that early on in the month.
- Watch a nativity or go to a Christingle service: There is no quicker way to lower my blood pressure and to make me feel all warm and fuzzy than to watch tea towel clad little ones or to stand in my parish church with the lights lowered, clutching a lit candle in an orange singing Silent Night.
And a special bonus one if everything else goes wrong:
- Remember what it's all about: Cheesy perhaps, but even if you're not religious thinking about "peace on earth" and "goodwill to all men" helps put things into perspective. Particularly if late night shopping.
What are your tips and ideas to lower your stress in the run up to Christmas?