This time of year is hectic. All that time spent running around getting things for other people, finding costumes for Nativity plays, baking things, throwing parties and trying to keep the peace within our families. And whilst it is the season for goodwill towards others, it is so important to look after yourself as well. If you are feeling overwhelmed or daunted by all that Christmas and New Year brings, here are 7 ways to make sure you have the energy to keep going, and to stay happy.
1. Cut yourself some slack: Take up a mantra of ‘Good enough’. No-one will mind if the mince pies you bring for the kids’ school party are shop-bought. An old large t-shirt with a dressing gown cord as a belt and a tea-towel headdress is a perfectly acceptable costume for a tiny shepherd. If you don’t have time to write and send cards, just send an email instead – people will love hearing from you, and it’s one less card for them to have to reply to. If money is tight this Christmas, make some homemade presents for friends and family, like this amazing peppermint bark – put it in a jam jar with ribbon and a nice label, and watch your loved ones devour it in seconds. And stash a jar away for yourself for emergencies.
2. Keep things simple: You don’t need elaborate Christmas decorations for the house or your table. Greenery strewn across the mantlepiece and tucked behind pictures looks festive and cheery, and you can forage it for free in nearby hedgerows and parks. Stick to a simple colour scheme for the table, using a plain white linen tablecloth as a backdrop and accessorising with brighter napkins. Use pine cones sprayed with gold paint as place markers, lay ivy and yew tree clippings along the centre of your table and dot with candles in jars. Use Instagram for inspiration, but don’t start comparing yourself to others or worrying that your house looks inferior. Remember, we all edit what we want people to see. Don’t get sucked in. A simple table laid with beautiful linens and some natural trimmings will be just fine. Look at this gorgeously simple table created by Hannah Bullivant of Seeds and Stitches.
3. Take time out when you can: If you have a houseful of people over the holidays it can be hard to get a moment’s peace. Find reasons to go out for a walk by yourself, take a long bath while everyone watches a Christmas film, sneak back to your bedroom for ten minutes with a cup of coffee and the newspaper, get up half an hour earlier than the others and get a head start with food preparations without being interrupted.
4. Ask for help: It’s not always easy to ask for help, but people are usually only too glad to assist. If you are hosting a dinner party, ask guests to bring a salad or desert. If you have houseguests delegate some of the cooking to them – who could balk at some gentle peeling whilst listening to the radio or chatting with you in the kitchen? Think of jobs that need doing and allocate them to someone in your household ahead of time, like chopping logs, walking the dog, unpacking the groceries or turning on the oven.
5. Be prepared: It takes a huge amount of brain space to just fulfil the basics of the holiday season, but a bit of forward thinking can ease the load a bit. Stock up on essential groceries so you don’t have any last minute dashes to a petrol station for a tin of baked beans on Boxing Day. Make sure you have plenty of toiletries for guests and your family. Wash towels in advance, or invest in a spare set if you have people staying and want them to feel pampered. Make sure you have plenty of baking soda, table salt, oxygen bleach and laundry detergent so you can deal with any gravy stains or wine spills and rescue your lovely linens before the stains set (find advice on removing stains from linens here).
6.Tidy up in advance: You don’t want to be worrying about having a messy house before the chaos of presents and wrapping paper even begins. Get your kids or family members involved and have a quick spruce up, so if people drop in unannounced you don’t have to sneak off and clean the toilet or wipe grubby finger marks off your mirror. If you go into the holidays with a clean house you will only need to do a little light tidying and clearing to keep things manageable until it’s all over. Invest in some more storage solutions if it helps you stay sane (like this genius bag-cum-play mat). Give away unwanted clothes, toys and books to charity or goodwill shops before the deluge of new things arrive.
7. Breathe: It can be hard to deal with cantankerous relatives or crotchety children at Christmas. To keep yourself from snapping, or if you are feeling stressed and need a quick fix, try this breathing technique: breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts and breathe out for four counts. Repeat until you feel calmer and more able to cope with the situation in hand. If necessary, step outside and take deep inhalations of fresh air.
We wish all our readers a wonderful holiday, and a happy New Year. Check in soon for some exciting new posts and collaborations.
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