I find it a little sad that a season that used to hold such wonder and magic, has become a season of stress and expense. I didn’t like Christmas as a child (excluding the gifts bit). I found it very lonely for as far back as I can remember until the Christmas of 2015. It’s funny how sometimes, our loneliest times can be when we are surrounded by people. But 2015 was the first Christmas where I took control and was dare I say it “selfish”. I felt like I could be for the first time as no one was depending on me as such (no step kids and my new partner had his own plans). But also my mum had passed away less than 3 months before. If I was going to do what I wanted at Christmas then this was my chance and despite the obvious sadness, it was the best Christmas I could remember.
Each Christmas since has got better and better. In part, because I take control, yes I am a control freak but it also means everyone else can relax knowing it’s taken care of. And in part, because I have stopped letting outside influences define what makes a good Christmas to me and my family. So if like me you refuse to have a stressful Christmas, here are my top tips to keep it merry and bright.
1. Planning - It’s never too early or too late to plan. I live by the Christmas motto - Plan in October, execute in November and enjoy in December. This is greatly helped by setting up your own family traditions, which I will touch on below. Don’t panic if you haven’t started planning. Even sitting down on Christmas Eve and doing a little plan will help make the next few days run smoother.
2. Don’t Overload - This is easy to do, especially if you haven’t planned because in December there are so many amazing things to do. But you need to check yourself. Are you only doing the thing you and your family want and need or is your time being stolen? Declutter out all the things you don’t give two hoots about. Also, try to spread out the fun, don’t squish it all into 3 days.
3.Define It Your Way - We have massively cut down the gift list and card list this year. It gets crazy and I’ve actually had an amazing response when I’ve said to friends and family “Can we skip gifts this year and just know I really love you?”. I also like to stay at home. I hate staying at other people’s homes, we are the only ones with a child so far and I also want to go to our church over Christmas. As no one else is religious and we have the most room, it makes so much more sense for us to host. My only exception would be Disney World, and that not likely to happen anytime soon.
4. Let Some Pressure Out - Last year was our first one hosting, so it carried some extra pressure that I’m reducing this year. 2019 has been a tough one and I just don’t have it in me like last year. If you're close to burnout or like I found 2019 a pain in the bum, cut yourself some extra slack with your plans and know that you can always go “all-out” on a future year. Our 2019 Christmas theme is “less is more”. It’s also my personal theme for 2020.
5. Make A Note For Next Year - Don’t sweat the small stuff, but do write it down for next year. If something didn’t work, wasn’t worth the effort or caused too much stress and upset, make a note so you don’t make the same mistake next year. Last year I wasted a lot of time trying to update our decorations by adding navy and a fairy. I found nothing of either I liked. With the navy, the more I looked the more I realised I loved our current colour scheme. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. With the angel, nothing matched up to what was in my head. I even ordered and returned one. In October this year, I was looking for a coat in TK Maxx and my daughter and I fell in love with a tree angel. Zero effort required. Typical! I also keep a note of the recipes I use and pack them up with the decorations. Don’t let rose coloured glasses convince you that something was easy or good last year that actually sucked big time.
I love Christmas now and can’t wait to get the tree up and the carols playing. A big part of this is my mindset towards Christmas. I won’t let it become a time of stress, because no matter what happens it will be a time of joy with my little and extended family.
3. Define It Your Way - We have massively cut down the gift list and card list this year. It gets crazy and I’ve actually had an amazing response when I’ve said to friends and family “Can we skip gifts this year and just know I really love you?”. I also like to stay at home. I hate staying at other people’s homes, we are the only ones with a child so far and I also want to go to our church over Christmas. As no one else is religious and we have the most room, it makes so much more sense for us to host. My only exception would be Disney World, and that not likely to happen anytime soon.