As things ramp up towards Christmas and New Year celebrations it is easy to get overwhelmed. You might be trying to manage children’s expectations, plan food and catering for lots of people, find the perfect gifts in your lunch hour, rustle up an angel costume from a pillow case and make it to a drinks party on time. And that’s just on one day…
It’s easy to succumb to stress and last-minute panic buying, so here are 10 ways to help you stay sane and happy amidst the hurly burly of the festive season.
Of course this time of year is characterised by sharing food and drink, by eating chocolates with breakfast, feasting on mince pies laced with brandy butter, and scoffing an enormous Christmas lunch. But in between the treats it’s important to make sure you eat well so you can replete your energy levels and make sure you don’t get ill as soon as you stop work. Make lots of hearty soups and freeze portions so you’ve always got something easy and healthy to eat. Stock up on citrus fruit (which is deliciously seasonal) and snack on satsumas rather than Toblerone. Plan your meals so that on busy days when there’s no time to cook you’ve got something quick to hand and don’t just reach for the cheese and crackers.
Being outside in Nature does wonders for your soul. Take a moment to walk around the block, or wander through a wood collecting foliage to decorate the house. Take the kids to the park and make leaf mounds to jump in. Potter in the garden, tidying up straggling perennials and cutting back dead wood. Sit outside and watch for comets and meteor showers (and Santa’s sleigh!), wrapped up in a blanket with a hot chocolate to keep you warm. Feed hungry birds by making simple feeders from pine cones smeared with peanut butter and dipped in wild bird seed.
3.Be happy with ‘good enough’
Make ‘Good enough’ your mantra for the coming weeks. Avoid too much browsing of seemingly perfect Insta-Christmases and friends’ wintery vacation photos. Instead, accept that your Yule log might look more like a misshapen lump, and that the turkey is a bit dry. It doesn’t matter. Don’t sweat. Your child won’t be the only shepherd in the Nativity with a tea-towel on their head, and you won’t be the only person who turns up to a party with a bag of shop-bought chips. Go slow if you need to. Say no to things you don’t really want to do. Let go of perfection, and use the energy that you would have channeled into being perfect for just enjoying the moment instead.
4.Spend lots of time in your pyjamas
Not only is it quite difficult to have an argument with someone when you are both wearing pyjamas, nightwear (or loungewear) adds an air of relaxation and cosiness to proceedings. Stay in your PJs for as long as you can, or get into them as early as possible in the evening, snuggling up with a Christmas book or film.
5.Clean out your kitchen cupboards and refrigerator
If you suspect that there might be a jar of mincemeat from two Christmases ago lurking in the back of your fridge (*guilty!*) have a good clear out. This will not only make space for all the extra food you need over the holidays, but will mean that you go into the crazy season at least feeling like one part of your house is in order. If you have guests staying a clean kitchen will make you feel more relaxed about having other people helping out, and might encourage you to share some of the work. Sort out your table linen so you have enough napkins and a clean table cloth ready for a get-together.
6.Plant Spring bulbs
As the days grow ever shorter and darker it can begin to feel a bit gloomy. Planting some Spring bulbs like tulips and irises will give you hope for the coming of warmer, sunnier times. Pots of indoor paper white narcissi and hyacinths will not only add colour they will also fill your home with their delicious heady scents.
7.Sort out your guest room
Whether you have visitors planned or just anticipate some impromptu guests, making sure your guest room is tidy and welcoming means there’s one less thing to worry about when everyone descends on you. Put freshly washed (or new) linen sheets on the bed and lay out some soft guest towels. Place a jug and two glasses next to the bed, as well as a couple of good books. You could add a scented candle or two, and some flowers nearer the time of your visitors’ arrival.
8.Bake simple but delicious things
Try out some new recipes as well as family favourites so you don’t get bored in the kitchen. But keep things simple. This is not the time for elaborate souffles or fiddly dishes. Find some easy recipes that will feed a crowd, like tray bakes and cinnamon buns. Replenish your pantry with staples so that you can always throw something together at the last minute.
9.Light candles and hang fairy lights. Everywhere.
No matter how dark it is outside there is nothing as cheering as some gentle candlelight or twinkly fairy lights. Go for maximum hygge this holiday, and fill your house with light. This is also a great way to avert the eyes from untidy or dusty cobweb-filled corners.
It can be difficult to really talk to your loved ones when things are so busy, but it’s important to make time for some proper conversations. Whether that means reading extra bedtime stories to the kids and talking over their day, or a late-night chat with a sibling after a mammoth board-game extravaganza, try to make sure you really connect with each other. Some people find this time of year especially challenging, and talking can be a really helpful way to help cope with anxiety or sadness.
Any other tips for keeping happy over the Christmas holidays? We’d love to hear from you.