Every year I utter the same phrase, ‘I can’t believe how quickly the past 12 months have gone by’.
It seems, to me anyway, that one year is blending into another and I feel like I’ve barely taken the Christmas tree down before I’m putting it back up again.
As much as I love Christmas – the mulled wine, the mince pies and the general merriment – it can be quite an overwhelming time on all fronts. There’s the financial angle, which can be demanding, there’s the planning element, which can be stressful and then there’s the juggling act of keeping a number of different people happy. Oh and did I mention family fatigue?
I’m a firm believer that Christmas is as expensive and as stressful as you’re willing to make it. These tips have helped me in the past when it comes to making the whole experience much more enjoyable and I hope it’ll do the same for you.
You know that unmistakeable feeling in January when your credit card statement arrives and you’re too scared to open it? We’ve all been there and it’s horrible. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Set a budget and stick to it. There’s no need to go overboard on extravagant gifts you can’t afford. To keep costs affordable, try shopping when there are events on – you’ll find more 20 per cent off events in stores as the big day draws closer. Or, if money is really tight, try handmade gifts. Things like jam, biscotti, flavoured oils and liquors are all fairly inexpensive to make but add that lovely personal touch.
As with anything in life, the more you can do in advance of a big event, the easier that event will be. With Christmas there’s no exception. If you’re on Christmas dinner duty, prep as much as you can in the days before. Veggies can be pealed, puddings can be made, and soup can be pureed, ready to heat and serve at the last minute.
Planning ahead doesn’t just apply to food. Leaving your Christmas shopping to the last minute won’t just be stressful, but it will likely cost you more too. I always aim to have all of my Christmas shopping done before December begins, so I can enjoy the month-long festivities.
Make a list
I’m a huge fan of lists; they keep me on track and it’s so satisfying when you can tick everything off and feel quietly smug that you’ve got everything in hand. At Christmas time, I need my lists more than ever. My first is a gift list, including how much I want to spend. My second list is for cooking the Christmas dinner. I write down not just what needs to be done but how long each item will take and when different components need to go in the oven. Everything goes much more smoothly when I take this approach. If you prefer to make lists digitally, the Wunderlist app is fantastic.
Remember, Christmas is supposed to be fun. Sure, there’s a lot to do, but there’s also mulled wine, Christmas songs, fairy lights and the smell of cinnamon in the air. Manage your time (and priorities) as effectively as you can. Break things into small chunks – don’t try and do everything at once. That way you’ll be much more likely to have fun and embrace the season and all the joy that comes with it.
Chiara is an editor who likes the simple things in life; a cup of tea by the fire, travel, and spending time with friends and family. She also can’t resist the lure of Scandinavian decor and has a penchant for anything warm and cosy. You can find out more about Chiara and follow her adventures on her blog, Wine and Olives.