The closer we get to the main event, the higher our stress levels soar. We know we do it to ourselves, yet each year after promising that ‘next year will be different’, as Christmas Day creeps on in we still end up getting our tinsel in a tangle over something we probably shouldn’t.
There is no need to try and cook like Gordon Ramsay. You do not need to buy expensive presents and wrap them with flourishes like the scene from Love Actually. You do not need elaborate decorations all over your home, tree and dining table so you can feel worthy of Instagram and show everyone just how perfect your Christmas is.
Stop right there! You are cooking a roast dinner with a few extra trimmings, your tree is always lovely and your friends and family just want to spend time with you, regardless of how big, small or expensive your gifts are. Christmas is not a competition and it’s certainly not about perfectionism. If you set yourself ridiculously high standards and expectations, your well-being is going to take one hell of a bashing.
Calm down. Take a breath. Have a small Baileys if you need one. Maybe even crack open a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. There is no need to worry.
You are not a failure if you forget to the put the honey on your parsnips or score diamonds in the fat of your glazed ham. So what if you have missed last posting dates? Christmas is meant to be joyful. Read on, and we shall share some tips that will help you take the crisis out of Christmas.
- One of our favourite parts of Christmas is curling up on the sofa to watch some good old classic or festive television. We plan ahead for this with a Radio Times and a highlighter pen. Mock all you like, but at So Just Be, we have no shame in enjoying the best chore of the Christmas season. We will sit down at the table with a festive tipple or two, some nice treats and spend a relaxing half hour or so flicking through the TV guide to see what gems are unmissable. We will mark them with our trusty highlighter, guaranteeing them a slot in our festivities, or set the Sky box to record them for later, ensuring no fights over the TV remote.
- No tree yet? So what! Pop to your local garden centre who will have loads to choose from. Take the family and choose it together, then laugh as you work out how to bring it home. Then decorate it as you relax in the knowledge that yours is far fresher than those people who have been showing theirs off since November on Instagram. Yours will still have needles and smell fabulous while theirs is now cropped from their socials.
- You’ve had the gift for weeks, but never got around to posting it. You’ve now missed the last posting date to get it to someone in time for Christmas. It doesn’t matter! It really doesn’t matter. Wrap it up, box it up, but sit down, take your time and write a lovely note to pop in the box. Laugh, apologise and know they will be thrilled to have another gift to open after Christmas. Or if you are really desperate for them to have a gift, keep it for next year and send them an e-gift instead, but personally we’d prefer something to open in the New Year rather than an email with no gift wrapping.
- You still need to do ‘the big food shop’ so get ahead of the game. Get stuck into the fridge and freezer, throwing out the wrinkled veg and soggy cheese that is lurking at the back. Give it a good clean and make space for all the treats you will be bringing home. While you are at it, do the cupboards, too. It will also remind you of anything you need to add to the shopping list. And start making ice-cubes rather than wasting money on shop bought ones.
- Once you have bought the turkey, sit down and plan your cooking timings. Don’t get up on Christmas day with no idea what time you need to put the oven on. You are probably cooking a larger joint of meat than you would normally do, so the extra cooking time, combined with any other trimmings, are going to extend the overall timing of your dinner. If you have a time in mind for serving, then work it all out now, then you can enjoy Christmas Day morning rather than spending it in tears. Your dinner will never be as bad as this classic from the Royle Family if you plan ahead.
- Prepare ahead for receiving any gifts that will need batteries or charging to avoid any tears or tantrums on Christmas Day (and that’s just you driving around in your dressing gown at 7am trying to find somewhere open that sells AAA batteries!). Make sure you have a socket or extension lead handy that you can set up as a charging station, and pop a good selection of batteries in a safe place just in case.
- Wrapping presents, even without flourishes, always takes longer than you think it will. Don’t leave it until the last minute, and please don’t end up in tears at 11pm on Christmas Eve up to your elbows in sticky tape, wrapping paper and sobbing over some stupid ‘influencer’ online telling you that sticky tape should be hidden and corners should be perfect. Bollocks to them. And bollocks to matchy-matchy wrapping with coordinated flourishes and silky ribbons. Get the Christmas tunes on, get someone to help you, have a cheeky Baileys and get the job done as early as you can.
- Give the house a quick spruce up before Christmas, but don’t worry about doing a deep clean. If you have cards and decorations everywhere, you will not get it all perfect. Do you best, clean the bathroom, put fresh towels out and have a good tidy up. You can go to town on the house again once all the decorations have been taken down.
- Sit down and think of all the little things. Is there fuel in the car? Have you got a couple of ’emergency’ presents for unexpected visitors? Can you visit anyone before Christmas that you won’t have time to see on Christmas Day? Have you got an outfit complete with socks or tights with no holes in? Is there some sweet sherry in the cupboard for Great Auntie Joan? Have you got enough crockery and cutlery for dinner? Do you need to remember to defrost anything?
There is always lots to do, but remember, it’s not a competition. Everyone will have a great time and be none the wiser of most things that you will forget to do or stress about. Plan ahead as much as you can, but let the small things slide. And if all else fails, make some mulled wine. The house will smell fabulous and you’ll be too sloshed to care.
Have a fabulous Christmas,