And that’s it for this year

merry christmas

It’s Christmas Eve. The presents are (finally) wrapped and under our sparkly tree. It’s time to settle in for a restful evening with the family.

Before it gets too busy with cooking and unwrapping of gifts tomorrow, I’d like to wish you all the very best of festive holidays. May it bring you what you need and what makes you smile, all with a sprinkling of sparkle and joy.

Here’s to a better, kinder, and healthier new year.

7 ways to keep your sanity in the festive season

7 ways to keep your sanity in the festive season

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.

Be grateful

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.

Time out

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.

Brainstorm

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.

Breathe

This isn’t as obvious as it sounds. If all else fails, take a deep breath in, count to six, breathe out, and smile.

What to give Writers for Christmas?

what to give writers for Christmas

First question: Do you have friends and family who are writers? It doesn’t matter if they’re published or not. If they write, they’re writers.

Second question: Do you know what to get them for Christmas and how to help them enjoy the festive season?

If the answer to the first question is ‘yes’ but you’re veering towards a ‘no’ for the second, I may be able to help.

Stationery

No, no, it isn’t boring. Most writers are stationery addicts – pens, pencils, notepads, journals, post-it notes, erasers, pencil sharpeners, pencil cases, rulers… The list is endless.

Delight a writer by gifting them a stationery bundle. It doesn’t have to be fancy stuff but if you want to make it extra special, customise a notepad or a pen or a pencil case with their name or some writerly term like, well, ‘writer’.

Books and Magazines on Writing

There are so many wonderful books out there by writers for writers. A personal favourite is Stephen King’s On Writing, but your writerly friend might also like:

The Writers and Artists’ Yearbook is my personal bible, providing up to date information on publishers, agents and excellent advice from the industry.

There are various writing related magazines. A good choice for all writers is the aptly named Writing Magazine which incorporates Writers News. A similar publication is Writers Forum. For women writers, there’s also Mslexia.

You could even buy a subscription to one of the writing magazines for your writerly loved one.

Writerly Accessories and House Goods

What do I mean by house-goods? Well, it could be something as small as a fridge magnet, or as luxurious as a cushion.

Nothing makes a writer happier than supping their coffee from a writer-themed mug or donning their writing-gloves.

Space Online

What I mean by this is a blog. Now, I know what you’re thinking – I don’t have that kind of money to spend – but not every online presence has to cost a fortune.

Blogger provides a free blog service with a variety of designs that you can personalise to your loved one’s taste. There’s Tumblr too.

Why not set up a blog for them to share their writing?

Buy Their Books and Post a Review

If your writerly loved one has a book, or books, out there in the big, wide world and you haven’t yet purchased a copy, why not show your support by buying one and then posting a lovely review on Amazon or GoodReads?

After all, one of the best ways to support a writer is to not only buy their books but also shout out to the world just how wonderful their writing is.

Time

Any writer’s internal editor offers more than enough excuses to put off their writing. Add that to the daily grind and it can often seem that there just isn’t enough time in the day to get any writing done.

If your partner is a writer, then giving them an hour a day when you won’t disturb them or expect them to do anything but write can be a wonderful gift.

If your writer friend is a parent, why not offer to take their children to the park or soft-play for an hour so they can get on with some writing.

Time can be difficult for any of us to find but is the most special of gifts for a writer.

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So there you have it – some lovely ways to give to your writerly friends in the festive season, ranging from as much money as you want to spend to simply your time, love and patience.