I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I absolutely love Christmas.
I love singing along to Christmas carols, watching Christmas movies (Love Actually, The Holiday, Elf… shall I go on?), going for long drives to look at Christmas lights, baking Christmas treats, giving presents, and celebrating this most wonderful time of the year with family and friends.
I’ll admit, though, Christmas can be stressful. The exhaustion from a big year coupled with feeling completely underprepared with not enough time to fit everything in, the pressure of finding that perfect present, and the tension of spending extended periods of time with the, shall we say, more challenging individuals in our lives, is enough to make anyone worry that they may be going a little crazy.
And whilst many of us probably had the best intentions to get organised for the holiday season earlier this year, life usually seems to have different plans. That New Years Resolution to buy Christmas presents all year around tends to be as forgotten as that year-long squat challenge that lasted until mid-January. With so much else going on, Christmas can easily get put into the “too hard” pile until all of a sudden you’re mid-way through December and listening to Michael Buble’s Christmas album on repeat everywhere.
So here are 4 tips for staying sane.
- Write lists. Santa is definitely onto something with this one. Write down the names of everything you need to do or everyone that you need to buy presents for and tick them off as you get the presents. Plan what you are going to have for Christmas lunch or dinner early and write two shopping lists – one for longer lasting items (flour, nuts, dried fruit, coconut etc.) and one for perishable items (turkey, meats, cheeses etc.). That way you can go to the shops a week before and get as much as you can to save the stress of a larger shopping trip closer to the day. Plus you get the added bonus of that satisfied feeling you get as you cross things off. Item one: start a list. Tick it off. Feel accomplished.
- Break big task down into little steps. “Decorate the house” sounds like a massive task. Namely, because it is. Much like when writing lists, when you start to break things down into smaller steps (e.g. put the Christmas tree up, organize the Christmas lights, decorate the table), it sounds much easier to achieve. You can do this with most of the bigger tasks that you have. Even breaking down making Christmas lunch into smaller tasks – like making the salad, setting the table, cooking the ham etc., is far simpler to get your head around AND it allows you to delegate better. After all, many hands make light work.
- Plan for some unplanned time. It seems that every spare minute is filled throughout December. You’ve got work Christmas parties, friends Christmas parties, shopping trips, Christmas carols, and the list goes on. Realistic examine what is happening and look for a time where nothing is planned – or when something inessential has been planned. Then mark that time off. You can use that time to recharge, to catch up on things that you are feeling behind on, or to do something fun – I’ve planned a whole day to make a gingerbread house, and I can’t wait.
- Smile and let go. Things are not always going to go to plan. But in my experience, the greatest Christmas disasters usually make a great story. Have you ever watched a Christmas movie? My case in point. Just laugh it off. There may be, ahem, disagreements. There may be kitchen disasters (we once had a massive turkey that was smothered in butter and then overcooked – leaving us with an inedible mess). But let yourself laugh as you read out terrible Christmas Cracker jokes and wear ridiculous outfits. Sing Christmas carols without reservations. And smile, even if just because you are amused as you receive yet another cat pen because you loved stationary and cats when you were ten.
Yes, Christmas can be intense. And if you are feeling overwhelmed by it all, at least you can take solace in knowing that you are not alone. But before “Oh Holy Night” turns into “Oh Holy Fight”, take a step back and try to remember what it is all about.
For me, Christmas is about being with the people that I love and showing them that I love them in the best way I know how – spending time together, helping out, giving thoughtful gifts, actually saying that I love them, and sharing amazing food.
What is Christmas about to you and how do you stay sane? I would love for you to share in the comments below.