The festive break will arrive at any moment and be all over in a day or two. Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? Have you started? Are you looking forward to the big day? Is your home decked with sparkle and glitter? Has the dog given in to being dressed up for the season?
Even if you are organised and optimistic, the rush to create the perfect holiday can get to us all. So, here’s my list of how to keep your sanity in the festive season.
Be a child
This probably comes to some of us easier than to others but in our attempts to organise everything to the ‘enth degree, we can forget to actually enjoy the whole thing.
Take some time to remember what you liked about Christmas as a child. It might have been dressing the tree with baubles and tinsel without a care for co-ordinating colour schemes or whether the big decorations belonged at the bottom of the tree only. Maybe it was watching the Wizard of Oz (even though you can basically perform it word for word) or diving into a pile of presents and ripping off the wrapping paper with no thoughts of tidying up.
Try to include some of that child-like joy in your holiday.
Christmas is probably the most materialistic of celebrations and a time of year when we add to our belongings en masse. We can too easily focus on what we’ll get and what we’ll give, but forget to look at what we already have.
Take a moment to think of all the good things in your life that you’re grateful for.
Don’t do a Delia (Jamie, Gordon, Nigella…)
In a culture which force-feeds us celebrity chefs, eating plans, and cookery slots on daytime TV, you can begin to believe that success in life (and especially at Christmas) relies on having all the dressings and culinary implements and herby oils available on the market.
Mashed potato is boring, and roasties are so last year. Turkey just isn’t fashionable unless you’ve shoved your hand under its skin and given it a good grope.
Relax. If you like your turkey plain, that’s fine. If roast potatoes and peas are your thing, excellent. Cook what you want to eat.
It isn’t just for screaming five year olds. Time out can be invaluable for us grown-ups too.
Scream into a cushion. Kick a ball around (your children will enjoy that). Stomp about outside with a glass or mug of what you fancy. Whatever it takes (legally) to release some frustration, go for it. Everyone can benefit from a little time out now and then.
Worst case scenario
Perspective is a wonderful thing but it so often escapes us in the run up to the festive holiday.
If your worries are getting the better of you, take a moment to sit down and work out your worst case scenario. What is the very very worst that could happen?
So that present that you ordered online doesn’t arrive in time for Christmas. It will be just as welcome a few days later. What if your cooking rota – the one that you’ve planned with military precision for weeks – falls apart on the day? Nobody will starve from waiting an extra half an hour. So Auntie Betty doesn’t like her present. Give her an extra sherry and remember next year that blue really isn’t her colour.
Is there too much to remember? Have you too much to do? If your mind is spinning with the overflowing mass of things to buy, jobs to complete, and people to contact, then have a brainstorm.
Write down all the jobs, all the purchases, and all the people then tick them off as you finish each task. It might also be handy to write down any emergency numbers you might need like the out of hours doctor and chemist, friend and family numbers (just in case you mislay your address book), and useful ones such as local taxi firms too.
Writing it all down will free up your brain and ticking off each task on your list is incredibly satisfying too.
This isn’t as obvious as it sounds. If all else fails, take a deep breath in, count to six, breathe out, and smile.