1. Forget Perfect Don’t tie yourself in knots trying to have a Christmas like you see on the pages of a magazine. These are stage managed by a team of people and shot in August. You have a real house and a real family living in it, not a stage set full of models who only have to look good for a photograph. Real families argue and burn the gravy – so don’t try and live up to a media image you have in your mind.
2. Live in the Moment Sometimes there’s so much to do that you spend the whole time feeling anxious and planning ahead. Take time to enjoy the delights of the festive season otherwise there’s no point. If you don’t make space to enjoy the company, the food, the decorations and the carols you lose the chance of sharing the magic which makes Christmas special.
3. Avoid overwhelm Make a list of all you have to do and cross off anything which does not make you smile (or which others would not miss). That should get rid of a lot from your list. If you have too much to do then ask for help. No one says you have to do it all. Do a little each day of whatever you have left on your list to avoid getting in a panic at the last minute.
4. Budget Wisely Everyone spends more than usual at Christmas but make sure you stick to what you can afford. If you will have to spend the next 6 months paying for the extras, then you are better off without them. Do the best you can with the money you have.
5. Halve the Cost, Double the Fun Christmas has become very commercial in some respects but it doesn’t have to be. You can cook great food without spending a fortune. You can have fun with your family too playing old-fashioned games such as charades or cards. You can bake or make decorations together to get in the spirit of the season and enjoy all the old family movies they put on at this time of year. Presents can be a problem if you’re low on cash. Suggest a Secret Santa present swap where everyone draws lots and buys for only one adult or agree a very low spending limit for gifts so that you buy each other something fun rather than a costly item.
6. Find the Meaning Christmas is about togetherness, having a good time, peace and goodwill to everyone, being loving and joyful. It’s not about spending so much you go into debt, eating so much you put on 5lbs or decorating your house with more lights than everyone else in your area. Decide what Christmas means to you and don’t lose sight of that when you’re immersed in the pressure to buy and eat!
7. Show the Kids Today most kids over 6 think Christmas means getting stuff. They have lists of toys and games and designer gear they want – and yet they are also open to enjoying other aspects of Christmas. Help them experience the true meaning by sharing special moments. Bake cookies with them. Decorate the tree together. Sing carols and collect money for charity. Let them parcel up their outgrown toys (or buy some items together) for the needy.
8. Give Yourself Give in ways other than buying presents to experience the magic of Christmas. Offer to baby sit so parents can go and buy gifts for their offspring. Take an old lady shopping at the supermarket in your car so she can stock up for her family coming instead of struggling on the bus. Be kind to those serving in shops – it’s a busy time for them and they often receive the brunt of others’ stress and bad temper. You’ll get back as much joy as you give.
9. Consider Yourself When buying gifts for everyone else, buy a few things for yourself. Wrap them up and share the fun on Christmas Day. Make sure that you take your wishes into consideration about how you would like to spend Christmas too. If you don’t want to spend the whole time travelling between relatives, plan to stay at home next year. If you want to make something other than traditional food, make it! No one creates a rule that says Christmas has to be this way or that.
10. Communicate If you decide to change things let everyone know ahead of time. You don’t want any sulking on the day. You may not know how important a particular tradition feels to someone until you try and change it. Ask what everyone likes about Christmas and try and accommodate as many wishes as possible without compromising your own happiness. You may find you can drop some old traditions without a qualm and you may start to feel great about others once you know how much they are appreciated.