Posted on 07:07 20/12/2017
Last weekend I decided to do some Christmas baking. I had biscuit batter on the biscuit sheet, muffin batter in the muffin tin and a cake mixing up. Then I checked the oven which I had put on to preheat....it was dead as a dodo! I couldn't believe it!! I checked all the connections, the fuse box...that oven was not going to heat up for anybody!
And yes, my pre-Christmas stress level hit a new height!
I know I'm sharing this pre-Christmas stress with many, many people so here are my suggestions for keeping it in check!
1. Be Realistic About What You Can Do!
With all that's going on at this time of year, think about what you really have time to do! Juggling social events with work and all the enjoyable things that make up the festive season can leave us feeling very tired. And when we get tired, we just don't enjoy things as much. If things are getting too hectic, it maybe time to cut back a bit - choose the things you really want to go to and make those a priority!
Be realistic about your time lines too! Thinking about making some gifts but haven't started yet? Unless it's something that you've done before and know the process, it may be better to think of something different! Things can go wrong, run out or just end up as a total catastrophe! And Christmas morning is the worst time to find out that your precious, handmade gift is a total bomb!
One year a friend of mine decided to make chocolates to give as gifts on Christmas Day. She was so busy that she didn't start making them until the evening of Christmas Eve. Late that night, which the chocolates made and setting on the kitchen counter, she finally crawled into bed. On Christmas morning she found the cat sitting in the middle of the chocolates! What remained were squashed or covered in cat hair!
2. Out-Source as Much as You Can!
There is so much to do at this time of year, if you can get some help it's like gold! Don't have time to make the Christmas pudding or mince pies? Grab them from the supermarket! Okay, so maybe grandmother, who always made everything from scratch, wouldn't approve - but she neither did she have a supermarket to fall back on when she was young!
There are many services that can lighten the load and don't cost a lot. Consider things like ordering your groceries on-line and having them delivered or getting gifts wrapped in the store when you buy them. And if you're having people over for a drink, grab a cheese or fruit platter from the supermarket!
If you've invited a fifty people for drinks on Boxing Day and you haven't started to plan what you're going to give them to eat or drink or what they're going to sit on, you're in trouble! Think about what you can realistically do and ask other people to help! Maybe they can bring some food, pick something up at the supermarket, bring some chairs or some ice. You don't have to do everything yourself - most people are more than happy to help!
3. Don't Feel Guilty!
We can't always do all the things we think we should be doing - or that others think we should be doing - especially on Christmas Day! Accept this and look for compromises. First of all, work out is most important to you: is it to see your parents, exchange gifts with a friend, meet your niece's new baby or see an elderly relative who may not have any visitors on Christmas Day. Once you know what the focus is, make plans so you can do it. If the focus is to catch up with your friend, maybe you can meet a couple of days after Christmas. If your relative is going to be alone on Christmas Day, maybe organise for somebody to pick them up and bring them to your home for Christmas lunch.
My cousin lives several hours away. In the week leading up to Christmas, we were trying to organise to meet and exchange gifts but neither of us could afford the time to do the round trip. The compromise: to meet half way, have a lovely lunch together and exchange gifts!
4. Enjoy the Free Stuff!
Christmas has come to be associated with spending lots of money - but there are things around that are free...and fun! Check out the newspaper for the winners of the Christmas lights competition and spend an evening going around checking them out! Talk to other people who are also watching the lights - they may tell you about other houses that have fabulous displays that weren't part of the competition!
Many communities have Carols by Candle Light - it may not be as swish as the one shown on the television but it's lots of fun and it's free! And not only that, if you're feeling stressed, thundering out a tuneless version of "Jingle Bells" can be very therapeutic!
5. Don't Expect Miracles!
If every Christmas your uncle gets drunk and starts to argue with people, your sister-in-law insults you and your grandmother asks you when you're going to have kids, don't expect this Christmas to be any different! All these things will probably happen again - but often we make ourselves unhappy dreading it or hoping for a miraculous Christmas where these things don't happen. Instead, accept it - and have a few "contingency plans". When your uncle has obviously had too much, move to the next room out of firing range. When your sister-in-law insults you, smile enigmatically and say "is that so?" and walk away - she'll spend the rest of the night wondering what just happened! When your gran asks about kids, change the subject and ask about her life when she had kids - it may lead to a fascinating conversation!
6. Have Fun!
Remember fun? It was what we use to have before we got stressed! Sometimes we get so busy with Christmas that we forget to have fun - to laugh and smile! Often we specifically organise enjoyable things - like a bar-bar-que with friends or going to the beach for the day. But sometimes fun can be letting yourself go - doing something unexpected or out of character that just catches your imagination!
A few years ago I flew out to meet my family at 6am on Christmas Day. I had worked Christmas Eve then spent the evening washing, wrapping presents and packing. When I got up at 3am on Christmas Day, I was tired and stressed. The only thing I wanted to do was go back to bed. As I brushed my teeth, some blue and green hair chalk caught my eye. In a flash, I was rubbing it through my hair and roaring with laughter!
7. Be Prepared
Have the phone number of an electrician (and maybe a plumber) handy.
Because you never know.....