Imagine you sit with a glass of mulled wine snuggled under a blanket, watching one of the Christmas movie classics. It’s perfect. But what does it take to get to that relaxing stage? There is a lot of planning, shopping, cooking and generally running around…about four weeks of it. Every year, you think you can make Christmas better than last year and every year the preparations seems to be a lot more stressful. This year brings its own challenges but we are still hoping we can make it special.
As it gets closer to the 25th I usually feel increasingly tired and less likely to actually enjoy the festivities. There are work deadlines, school activities (this year all mostly virtual) and the usual making sure everything is in order. Last year was an improvement on the year before, minus the pandemic, and so with that in mind I thought I would let you know how I go about planning my holiday season without too much stress.
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN
It won’t be a discovery of the year if I tell you that the first thing to do is to plan everything. Not only the shopping but also the meals, the gifts and activities. I always laughed at my mum, who had scraps of paper everywhere with shopping lists, lists to do, even scribbling down what she bought and how much she paid. I am not laughing now, as it is the best way to organise yourself, not feel overwhelmed but in control before you realise you overspend or double booked yourself for some festive celebrations, on top of some chores (yes, I did that!)
Dedicate specific days for cleaning, shopping, tree / home decorating, making food that can be prepped in advance, seeing friends and family (where possible, as we still don’t know how things pan out in December). Having it all written down always gives me a clear idea what can be done when and what can be completely given a miss.
PERFECT DOESN’T EXIST
Well, it does…in cheesy Christmas Movies 🙂 At some point I had to let go and forget that Christmas isn’t about perfect gifts, decorations or perfectly baked gingerbread reindeers. I had to let go of perfectly clean house and creating dishes that will be half eaten but look pretty. I have two boys who are also fussy eaters. Until their taste buds can appreciate a bit more imaginative foods, we are stuck with tradition and that’s fine for now. As we are a pretty busy family, for us it’s all about spending quality time together.
MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER
When your Christmas food shopping list is complete, throw in some items with your weekly shops and tick them off. Don’t forget about some extra items for a food bank if possible. Financially, you will hardly feel it and if they are items with long “use by” date or frozen it means you will have them ready.
If you don’t mind on-line grocery shopping, a lot of them have got introductory offers and it is so much easier than braving the shops, finding parking spaces, battling with a toddler who refuses to sit in a trolley and then spending more than anticipated.
Whatever can be made in advance and stored / frozen – do it. However, if you don’t fancy cooking or can’t face it, see whether you can order a Christmas Dinner delivered to your home. There are a lot of local cafe’s and independent businesses who will be trying to make up for lost revenue during this pandemic and expanding their offer with Christmas Dinner offerings. Also, most major supermarkets offer some sort of festive menu and once it’s ordered you don’t have to worry about it.
I don’t do a big clean in one day. I try to divide bigger tasks into small chunks and I don’t go after every single nook and cranny (that’s reserved for big spring clean). I also try and delegate cleaning tasks, so far only to my husband, but it means I am not the only one doing everything.
DON’T PANIC BUY + STICK TO BUDGET
I was guilty of that in the past. Poor planning, no shopping lists and I was out shopping a couple of days before Christmas like there was no tomorrow. Often it’s hard to resist – another cheeseboard, festive biscuits, snacks and drinks. You are also bombarded with offers, hard to resist offers and so you end up with surplus of gifts, decorations and food that won’t probably be eaten and used.
Armed with your shopping lists, all planned ahead and knowing how much you CAN spend you will have that weird feeling of satisfaction that you managed to resist all of those last minute buys. Often when I got home I forgot I even wanted those extra bits.
Come December and everyone is busy, however you don’t have to do everything at once as you will end up stressed out and with a feeling that bu doing one thing you missed out on another. See what works for you and your family, but don’t feel under pressure you need to do everything that you are potentially invited to. You do you.
Even if it means 15 minutes all by yourself to gather your thoughts, a short walk, a pampering bath, or having your favourite drink with a book or magazine. It’s extremely important amongst all that planning and prepping to look after yourself as you can’t pour from an empty glass. I feel much better after taking some time off and feel happy to get back into ticking off the to-do list again the next day.
The run up to Christmas can be stressful but can be enjoyable at the same time. After all it’s not only the day of 25th December that we create memories. It is the month of preparations and anticipation for the big day that the little people (and us) also remember. It is the time that new memories and also sometimes new traditions are created. Nothing will ever be perfect, I will probably not tick all of the things off my to-do list, boys will not keep the house clean & tidy but that’s ok, I won’t stress about it (well, I will try my hardest:))
I am happy that we all will be spending some quality time together and enjoying some delicious food, even if it’s not all perfectly home – made.
I’ve also created two Gift Planning Printables which you can download for free! Don’t let the holiday stress get to you this year and have everything in check.
I am curious to find out whether you have any tips for stress free holiday preparations?
Please do share them in the comments below!
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