Beyond the wonderful traditions of ham and family time, Christmas can also be an incredibly stressful period; over-spending, visiting relatives you haven’t seen all year and sheer panic can be as common as Christmas pudding. So rather than giving yourself a beautifully wrapped freak-out this year, here are some essential tips to help you keep your cool over the silly season.
Get a list
Come Christmas, I often end up with lists of lists, and although pedantic it’s certainly helpful. Keeping a checklist of everything that needs to be done can immensely help to calm a mind chaotic with things to do. Taking note of anything along the lines of gifts, cooking, and commitments can help keep you calm and on-track.
Getting on top of what needs to be done, even before the silly season starts, helps to avoid playing catch-up later. Getting Christmas cleaning, cards and the odd gift early means there’s less of the last-minute panic that results in your sister getting gifts from a petrol station. Covering things like Secret Santa presents or stocking up on wrapping paper and sticky tape can save you from a last-minute panic. I find it easiest to have a spot designated to ribbon, wrapping paper and cards as well as a few handy boxes of chocolates so even if you’re caught short, there’s something on hand to save on stress.
Share the load
With Nigella and the Great British Bakeoff making it look so simple, it’s easy to think we can all hand-weave baskets for our freshly-baked shortbread. In reality, between work, Christmas parties and having a life it’s super unlikely that this will happen. So rather than stressing yourself out trying to be the organic version of Delia Smith, maybe just crack on with what needs to be done without the frantic ‘flourishes’ that can so often turn Christmas into a crafty nightmare.
Even better, rope in friends and family to help out. Having people pitch in with the cooking or gift buying can remove a whole lot of angst. So share the load; after all, part of Christmas is bringing people together, and if that means handballing this year’s pudding purchases – so be it.
Accept that nothing is perfect
Yes, Aunt Dora might sit in silent fury over the way Aunt Nora eats her peas or your mother-in-law might get roaring drunk and fall asleep in the gravy, but there are always things that cannot be controlled. Rather than getting wound up, recognising that things will not always run smoothly (and sometimes go completely off the rails) is part and parcel of the holiday experience. The more you let go of the anxiety to make things perfect, the more likely they’ll go smoothly. So relax, enjoy the few days off to spend with people you care about, and eat something delicious. It’s Christmas after all.
Kate H Jones is a lifestyle and pop culture writer at Clavicle Capitalism.