Christmas is usually something most of us look forward to, but it can be a time of stress and overwhelm for many. The pressure of making the day perfect is a big one for those hosting a lunch or dinner on Christmas day. Add to this potential financial strain, extra houseguests, family dynamics, hot weather and perhaps a tad too much alcohol and you have a potential boiling pot of stress and friction.
Make your Christmas more relaxed, enjoyable and less expensive by simplifying your day (as well as your expectations). Having and doing less really can be more satisfying.
Preparing for Christmas
- Skip themed Christmas wrap this year. Try recycling paper you already have such as newspaper or brown paper. Wrap with pretty ribbon or stamp with a homemade star stamp (easily made out of a potato!). Or reuse last year’s Christmas wrap to save money and trees. One less thing to buy = less time at the shops = less stress.
- Simplify your Christmas displays by keeping ornaments and decorations to a uniform colour theme. Perhaps you could just use glass baubles or only paper decorations on the tree for a simple but effective look. Avoid buying new decorations, instead use ones you already have or hunt for lovely vintage tablecloths and decorations or seek high quality hand made pieces you know will last for many years. Think about dressing up a large pot plant with tinsel and stars instead of buying a real Christmas tree or a big plastic one. Once Christmas is over you still have the plant to enjoy.
On the Day
- To avoid one person having to stress out over the main Christmas meal think about finding somewhere outdoors like a park and having a picnic with every one bringing a dish to contribute. Keep the food options simple such as salads and cold meats.
- If attending a Christmas lunch or event ask the host if you can bring a dish to help reduce the stress and costs.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your guests to bring a dish or bottle of wine to contribute. Give each of your guests a job for the day to reduce the stress – make it a game – pull a task out of the hat or something – (allow people to swap tasks if they want once they’ve been allocated) one person can help with taking out the trash, another person might come up with some activities for the kids, someone else might wash up the glasses, someone else might clear the table, meaning the big job of cleaning up is shared and the hosts can enjoy themselves too!
- Give yourself a break and use the leftovers from Christmas for meals the next few days. There are usually house guests and family lingering around the few days post Christmas, so having quick and easy to prepare meals is ideal. Throw together dishes such as turkey salad or ham and cheese toasties. Potato salad and coleslaw always last a couple of days (make big batches for Christmas day and store the leftovers for an easy side dish). Make hash browns or bubble and squeak with left over roast veggies, throw leftovers into a casserole dish with a can of tomatoes or some chicken stock, cover with grated cheese and sprinkle with bread crumbs.
- Pack away your decorations, gift wrap, ribbons and for next year somewhere you’ll remember to avoid having to double up and buy more next Christmas.
- Let your focus this Christmas be to spend time with loved ones and enjoy each other's company.