It’s the most wonderful(ly busy and demanding) time of the year. Now, only mere weeks away, Michael Bublé is waking from his eleven month slumber as many shops are immersed in all things red, green and glittery. That’s right, folks, Christmas is once more rearing its tinsel covered head whilst we all rush around in a blind panic to find a gift for that one family member who seems to own everything.
Gifts aren’t the only problematic part of this season however. Let’s not overlook the decorations, the tree, and the mountains of Christmas related food. The key emotions felt by one throughout this festive period typically include anxiety, pressure, and a mild sense of fright. How much is so-and-so spending? What will I do if that work colleague hates the secret Santa I purchased for them? Will this person be buying me a present, and do I need to reciprocate? What if we run out of food on Christmas day? Even worse, what if supplies of alcohol are all drunk but the shops are closed? Then there’s always the completely illogical possibility of the oven spontaneously going up in flames as it cooks the mammoth turkey. These mini crisis moments are more incessant than the Christmas music played on repeat in swarming shopping centres.
Nevertheless, I should probably clarify at this point that I am in no way a Christmas Scrooge. I love the joyful ambience and adore buying presents for others. I admit to counting down the days until it is socially acceptable to stuff myself to the brim with bread sauce, quality street and whatever else I find in the cupboards, and take great pleasure in wrapping my presents: seeing the reaction on my recipients faces when they discover what’s hidden inside is always one of my favourite moments. I don’t doubt that Christmas is a magical time, but it does cause a great deal of fretfulness for many of us in this day and age.
As I am a fairly anxiety ridden person at times, I have written up some golden guidelines that will consequently help you to stay calm, and make the most of this celebratory period.
Use The Internet Wisely
If you have a deep hostility for overcrowded, hot and loud shopping centres at this time of year (or just in general), then drop the car keys, put the kettle on and open up your laptop for some online spending. The Internet, being the marvellous invention it is, offers a vast range of gifts for your recipients from a seemingly endless variety of shops.
Another big plus point is that a great deal of these sites will not charge you for postage fees if you spend over a certain amount – yet £2.95 seems a rather small price to pay for escaping the Christmas shopper commotion, thus keeping ones sanity in tact. As the majority of us tend to overspend at this time of year, this is a great bonus. Set yourself a budget for each recipient in order to keep your money worries at bay, write up a detailed list and click away.
If you find yourself struggling to the point of tears however when hunting desperately for suitable presents, help comes in the form of online sections dedicated to gifts “for him”, “for her”, and so on (if still in doubt, chocolate is usually a winner). Problem solved. Ditch the traffic and enjoy your shopping from the comfort of your own home. Side note – this strategy is also suitable for the disreputably lazy.
Stock Up The Freezer
If you think the shops are a challenge in the festive period, the supermarkets will always take the crown. Whatever you do, prioritise your food shopping in order to avoid being crushed under a rampage of wonky-wheeled trolleys stuffed to the brim with half price Quality Street. Or as previously mentioned, if crowds are not a winner with you, book your food shopping online and avoid all queue related disasters.
Nevertheless, If you are partial to a festive food shop to get into the spirit of things, aim to buy and freeze as many Christmas supplies where possible (just remember to take them out in time!). By doing this, you can also save money through purchasing the bargains and keeping them fresh in your freezer until Christmas (and Michael Bublé’s album) gradually draws closer.
To be frank, as long as you are inundated with mince pies and Cheeselets for when guests visit, everything is highly likely to run smoothly.
Discover The Christmas Spirit
There will always be certain people who start their Christmas countdowns in October, just like Christmas stock will forever be put on display in shops the day after Halloween (if not earlier). You are guaranteed to hear a Christmas tune on at least three radio stations as soon as December 1st hits, and of course there will be that one colleague at work who wears a Santa hat and/or covers their desk in tinsel. This cannot be escaped, no matter how hard you attempt to block it out in a somewhat scrooge-like fashion.
This year, to save you from tears (of frustration), make an effort to avoid complaining. Smile at Carol Singers rather than rolling your eyes as you pass them in the street, and make a point of not huffing and puffing about the garish Christmas decorations in your supermarket. Because let’s be honest here – Without Christmas, this time of year would just be a dark, dreary and drizzly season with no big tins of chocolate on offer in every shop.
Christmas brings happiness and joy to countless people, many of which struggle to find something to be happy about in their everyday lives. It can be a challenge when so many of us are fighting our own personal battles, but the festive season results in a great deal of individuals having some positivity injected in their dull day-to-day routines. Christmas is about being happy, so purchase a tree, join in with Secret Santa, and don’t waste energy being grouchy (put it into making paper chains instead).
Remember The True Meaning
You’ve probably been lectured with this old chestnut a hundred times over from various people, but keep in mind what the Christmas season is really about (after the whole biblical element). It isn’t just an opportunity to compare your gifts to other people’s purchases, or to boast about how much you’ve spent. Even though presents are undeniably fun and exciting, Christmas is an important time to gather with your nearest and dearest, and is a perfect opportunity to laugh, over eat, play monopoly (for five and a half hours) and simply enjoy being together.
If possible, take the time to call in on elderly relatives. We all have such hectic schedules that can sadly result in missing out on that essential quality time with the people who really matter the most. When it comes to grandparents, a bunch of flowers and a chat over a cup of tea is usually all they really wish for. A bottle of Port can also go down well here however.
When looking at the younger generation, this is the most magical time of year for them. Try to show your enthusiasm and get involved with the dreaded games of charades when the younger family members beg you to join in. Before you know it they will be all grown up, so treasure the time you have with them at Christmas while they’re still fully engulfed in the magic.
So there you have it. Avoid the stress by going back to the basics of a truly enjoyable Christmas. Prepare in advance, avoid overspending, accept the festivities, and dedicate your time to your loved ones. Presents are great, but your presence wins every time.