It’s nearly Christmas! It came on rather quick this year or perhaps that’s one of the charms of the holidays – they creep up on you and before you know it you are covered in tinsel and feeling the festive overload! Given that there are probably not enough hours in your day anyway, you may spend a large proportion of your time (like the rest of us) feeling on the brink of insanity. Christmas really does have the potential to push you over the edge. So, here are my top 12 tips for having a Happy (and stress-free) Christmas!
Family & Friends
1. Stay connected – Set up Skype calls with friends and family well in advance to account for time zones and ensuring you get to speak over the festive period. Instead of the usual slew of impersonal Christmas cards, have everyone sit together and write an actual letter (a lost art I know) and send it snail mail. In this day and age of technology overload, a handwritten, personal letter of warmth and good cheer can create a magic all of it’s own this holiday season.
2. Different generations all together – think of fun “old fashioned” games for all ages in advance (charades, Pictionary). Make some new traditions by thinking more of the “experience” of Christmas rather than just STUFF. Check out the Huffington Post UK article on some amazing homemade traditional Christmas party games!
Or better still why not re-live fun memories with elder family members that create laughter – we don’t laugh very much anymore. Let the elders talk about their childhood Christmas memories. I love listening to my mother (who is now 83years of age), talking about Christmas as a child in Barbados spending Christmas morning at church and then heading off to the beach – sounds lovely!
3. Do an open house – Choose one afternoon before or even between Christmas and New Year to give everyone a destination and reason to get out of the house and not just head to the sales and to spend money. With a Christmas open house party, you designate a few hours in which your event will take place. Guests can come by any time during the designated hours. Food and drinks will be presented as a buffet and people can eat and drink as they please instead of being tied to a formal dinner party setting.
4. Secret santa for large families – As families get larger, the costs of buying gifts can be a financial burden. The basic concept of Secret Santa is simple. All of the participants’ names are placed into a hat, box, etc., and mixed up. Each person then chooses one name from the box, but doesn’t tell anyone which name was picked. He/she is now responsible for buying a gift for the person selected.
To reduce costs and the time spent shopping, establish a price limit for the individual gifts, as well as any other desired criteria (for example, only clothes, toys, books). Another easy angle on gift buying is re reliable gift card/voucher – it can be so much fun receiving a voucher for your favourite store and buying what YOU want. The sentimental and emotional value is still attached to who bought the voucher for you.
5. DIY FTW! Not only do you have friends and family to worry about, but if you’re lucky enough to live in a friendly neighbourhood then you may want to send something over next door. And if you have kids, well, that includes all their favourite teachers as well! The holiday season is already a tough time for the wallet, so you really can’t always afford to go out and buy everyone the best of the best. Innovative and creative Christmas gifts that you can make or put together yourself, won’t break the bank and also won’t take up too much of your precious time.
Some may say it’s the thought that counts, but constructing something with your own hands and time can be so much more meaningful. Create your own memories with individual handmade gift ideas. A letter to a friend recalling a special time together or simply telling a loved one how much they mean to you will be remembered for years and will always be appreciated. Mookychick has some amazing ideas to get you started 101 MAKE YOUR OWN CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS.
6. Christmas on a budget – Christmas is one day – don’t ruin the whole of the next year for it. Remember to think “What can I afford?” vs. “What I WANT to be able to afford.” Consider not giving gifts to EVERYONE this Christmas. We’re not talking about gifts to your immediate family, but the ever-widening glut of friends, extended family and colleagues. Christmas isn’t a retail festival – we need to end feeling OBLIGED to give and think more about what we’re giving, to whom and why. If you’re yelling over your wrapping paper “what about the joy of giving?”, remember gift-giving creates an obligation on recipients to give back, whether they can afford it or not. For some, the gift of “not obliging you to buy for me” is actually better.
7. Make a Christmas eve box – Bring a little extra magic and sparkle to Christmas Eve by packing a Christmas Eve box full of little treats to make the night before Christmas almost as magical as the day itself. It’s one of the most gorgeous Christmas traditions. Combine some festive PJ’s, a Christmas story, Family DVD, hot chocolate mix and new mug (what kids don’t want a present on Christmas Eve?)
8. What’s old can be new again – Recycle/upcycle a nice dress and accessorise with some glam hair clips or a nice necklace. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel ladies – check out some amazing accessories from your favourite department store, dress/jewellery store, or even online.
9. Dress swap – On the run up to the endless list of holiday parties, invite your girlfriends over for mulled wine or a glass of champagne and a dress swap party and then you have a new outfit! Hey Presto you’ve decreased your stress with good friends (and some fine wine) and have a new outfit to boot! What could be better than that?
10. Think ahead and plan the nights out when you will be eating and drinking and make a meal plan for the nights you are at home to avoid the post Christmas bulge!
11. Christmas is a time for loving and connecting. The true meaning of Christmas tends to be the last on the list. Regardless of what your beliefs are, take a little time to reflect on life, your inner self, loved ones, goals, health, the year behind you and the year ahead!
12. When it’s all over, relax.
Instead of waiting for January when all the health books hit the stores (and you purchase with a little guilt because of over indulging at Christmas), I’d like to bring Nigma Talib’s book to your attention now. And I’ve also got 2 copies to give away so you can start reading before Christmas. Enter HERE to win! Enjoy your food whilst making a few little adjustments. Make sure you read my interview with the amazing Dr. Talib.