It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go. There’s much to do – shopping for presents and food, organising lunches and brunches, mailing out Christmas cards, attending end-of-year concerts and parties… And through it all, runs the unmistakable urge to rush, rush, rush.
So here are our tips to make sure you’re not defeated by those decorations (that have yet to be hung up), or stressed out by those stockings (that have yet to be filled). These suggestions will ensure that all is calm, all is bright this festive season.
Plan ahead: Repeat after me: lists are your friend. Make ‘em. Tick ‘em off. Plan your menu, your gift list, your calendar. Do you have enough chairs/bon-bons/glasses for all your lunch guests? Can you cook some dishes in advance? Do you have to travel miles to get from one place on Christmas Day to another on Boxing Day? Do you have a few extra stand-by gifts?
Budget: The best tip is to set aside some cash for these festive expenses every month in the lead up to the silly season. But if you haven’t been doing this, first figure out how much you can afford to spend. From food and presents to hidden costs like overseas phone calls, it all adds up. If money is tight, suggest having a Kris Kringle for big families so that you need to buy only a couple of pressies instead of 20.
Delegate: If family and friends are coming over to your place, allow them to bring desserts/salads/drinks. Get the men to fire up the barbecue. Ask the older kids to organise games. Let the aunts have a Christmas carol singalong. Bet your Nana will be thrilled to distribute the pressies! If everyone has a task, they’ll not only feel helpful, but also take these jobs off your to-do list.
Slow down: Don’t over-commit. It seems like the whole world wants to “catch up” before the end of the year. Suggest meeting in January instead.
In our rush to be ‘present perfect’, we tend to miss the Christmas messages of love, peace and joy. So take time out to enjoy this special time of year. Call up rellies who are far, far away. Invite neighbours over for a cuppa. Reconnect with loved ones.
Keep exercising: Unfortunately, plum pudding and Pilates do not go hand-in-hand. Try as you might, it is very hard to stick to healthy eating and exercise goals during the festive season. There are parties to attend and people to meet. So make a concerted effort to keep active. Walk the dog, meet friends for a run instead of a roast turkey, take advantage of Daylight Saving and exercise after work.
Everything in moderation: Of course, Christmas is the time to eat, drink and be merry. But as sure as there will be stuffing in your turkey, there will be regret over stuffing your face once the new year comes around. Do you really have to have one more mince pie/grilled prawn/pina colada? Choose your nibbles wisely.
Do something different: Ever get the feeling that Christmas pans out the same way every single year? The same guests telling the same jokes, (re)gifting the same gifts causing the same stress. Well, why not create your own traditions with your own family for a change? Escape to an exotic location on holiday. Gift the kids a family holiday instead of those plastic toys. Or else, book lunch at a restaurant instead of slaving over a hot stove. Go to the beach. You are only limited by your imagination.
Volunteer: For most of us, as the carol says, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. But for many, it is a time of loss and loneliness. So spare a thought for the less fortunate. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Donate a Christmas hamper to an old-age home. Visit the sick at your local hospital. Join a group of carol singers. Your reward will be ten-fold.
Be thankful: The end of year is a good time to sit down and reflect on the year that was. Think back on all the moments that brought joy into your life and be grateful for your blessings, big and small.
Be kind to one another: The festivities can often bring out the worst in us. The malls are full of people elbowing each other in a shopping frenzy. Old family feuds raise their ugly heads again. So take a deep breath – or ten – and let go of the angst and anger. After all, this is the season of peace on earth and goodwill to all men.