Does the thought of another bloody Christmas fill you with dread? Are fed up with the same old routines? Have you already planned when, and how, you are going to regift and donate the presents you know you aren’t going to be able to use? It sounds to us like it might be time to do Christmas differently!
It is totally OK to change how you ‘do’ Christmas. The only rules are the ones you make for yourself, after all. We want to help you bring back the joy to your Christmas.
By making some small changes or trying something new, it’s possible to put that jolly back in your holly and enjoy the Christmas you actually want to have. Here’s some things you might want to try:
Create a New Tradition
Sometimes we need to create our own traditions rather than continuing someone else’s. Don’t get us wrong, we will never stop making bread sauce using Grandma’s handed down recipe, but other traditions maybe don’t work as well once the children grow older and the size of the family changes.
It’s the things we do together or for each other that we remember over Christmas. Your memories can inspire you to try something new. For example, on the last weekend before December, maybe organise a Christmas Movie night, slip on some Christmas jumpers and enjoy absolutely huge mugs of hot chocolate.
If you have family access to a music service, how about creating a festive playlist that you all add songs to each year? Or maybe create a December Bucket List each year where everyone chooses an activity that you all do together. Anything goes but you all agree, be it skating, crafting, baking or even a Carol concert.
One of our favourite new traditions is the Annual Festive Drive Out where we put Christmas tunes on in the car and then drive around the locals towns and villages one evening to enjoy all the lights.
Have Something Different for Christmas Dinner
There is a great scene in a festive episode of TV’s Royle Family where after lunch the mum contemplates not cooking turkey next year as nobody really likes it. Hilariously, when she shares her idea the family are up in arms and demand their turkey dinner again next year.
But what if you really don’t want turkey? That’s absolutely fine. Your day, your rules remember!
You could consider eating out. The plusses are zero hassle, a relaxing morning not having to shoe-horn a giant bird into the oven, no peeling a mountain of brussel sprouts and of course, no washing up. Downside is you need to book in advance, sometimes there are multiple sittings and you feel rushed to make way for next group of diners, it can be a bit pricey and of course, and this is the big one, there are no leftover picky bits in the fridge.
You could consider cooking something different like Beef Wellington or even go super special and make an amazing seafood platter. Or if the weather is dry, how about a BBQ or a winter picnic.
Another option is to eat out but not have a traditional Christmas meal. We have friends who all go out for a slap up feast at their local Indian restaurant and would now never do anything else.
We can often put too much pressure on ourselves at this time of year. Unfortunately, if we expect too much and try too hard, reality can really kick us up the arse, leaving us feeling a little bruised to say the least.
If you lose sight of what you really want or need, you end up with your tinsel in a tangle, crying into a bowl of half-eaten Christmas pudding, utterly convinced you are a failure and that your Christmas was a total disaster. (You aren’t and it wasn’t. )
Instead, step back and simply reflect. Is it really that important that all your baubles are the perfect shade of sage green and spaced 26cm apart on your tree? Whose idea of Christmas are you actually trying to create here? Don’t compete with the images on Instagram that have been staged for hours, with hundreds of photos discarded before they got the perfect shot.
As a kid, your Christmas was perfect if you got a massive bar of chocolate and Darth Vader pyjamas. You are still that kid but can now afford better chocolate and cooler nightwear.
Allow Christmas to bring out the best in you. Think about what you have achieved this year and what you can do to help others. Simple things like being less grumpy in a queue, letting a fellow driver out of a junction or not getting cross with someone who is just trying to do their job will make you feel better and improve someone else’s day too. One thing we can all afford to be is kind.
Swap Presents for Something More Practical
My sister-in-law confided in me recently that she is dreading the presents her kids will receive from friends and family this Christmas. That sounds dreadful so let me explain.
They have more than one child who have always looked after their toys, so many games and such-like get passed down for the younger kids to enjoy. The family is quite large, so younger children can end up receiving quite a few gifts, especially when you add friends into the mix.
I spotted years ago that the kids were a little overindulged at Christmas and birthdays, so always bought the little ones clothes or something practical, much to their dismay and their parent’s delight.
The parent’s are too polite to make suggestions to the gifters, so once again will be looking at a mountain of toys wondering what on earth they can do with them all, let alone where to put them.
The solution, if something similar happens in your family, could be quite simple. Communication. Talk to each other about what you are buying. For example, if you know someone is getting a bike or scooter for Christmas, then chip in with accessories such as bike locks, stabilisers, helmets, lights or elbow/knee pads.
If someone is getting tech, maybe club together to upgrade to a better version, and again look at add ons such as upgrades, spare chargers, leads, speakers, software, sleeves, headphones etc.
For older gift recipients, perhaps you can purchase a subscription for a monthly coffee club, a magazine or a box of treats or crafting supplies. A gift that really does keep on giving.
Skip Presents Altogether
Something we have started to do is skip traditional presents and concentrate on making memories instead.
We make a hamper style gift for the family to open together with a few inexpensive treats inside, usually sweets, chocolates and toiletries. It’s not Christmas without a bath bomb after all!
But tucked inside we will put an envelope containing a voucher for something fun. Using the money we have saved by not buying individual gifts, we have clubbed together and bought family outings to concerts, shows, cinema tickets and even hired a barge. The memories are there to treasure long after the Christmas decorations have been put away.
For adults of a certain age, we can also get to the stage where some gifts we exchange are more a habitual routine than they are meaningful. Think carefully…is there anything that you desperately want or need Father Christmas to bring you? Other than a gift wrapped Chris Hemsworth, that is. Would you be happier with a small token gift and making a donation to a cause close to your heart instead?
Volunteering organisations are always looking for full time and part time help, from young adults to ‘grand mentors’ or just being a telephone buddy.
Maybe you could get involved in a local renovation project and put your practical skills to good use. Or perhaps an organisation near you is looking for someone who can drive to help people get about who are isolated.
A quick search on Google will provide you with countless opportunities to spread a bit of goodwill all year round, as well as helping to make a difference at Christmas.
Treat Yourself Instead
We’ve all faced struggles recently and life has a knack of supplying heavy duty doses of reality every now and then. If you are feeling a bit bruised emotionally, mentally or physically, then it could be time to look after yourself this Christmas.
OK. So you might have a stack of festive chores to get done, but it’s important to treat yourself, too. Book that hair cut. Treat yourself to a sparkly top. Get your nails done. If we are going to slave over a hot stove after running round with a bin bag wresting wrapping paper from the dog, we can at least look fabulous while we do it.
But seriously, take some time out to look after yourself and take a break. Make sure you have the supplies and the space to indulge in your favourite treats.
Don’t say ‘yes’ to every invitation and block out some time to relax. It’s your holiday too! Snuggle up at home with a furry throw, light some candles, switch on the fairy lights and kick back on the sofa with a glass of something lovely and a TV Christmas special.
When you do the Christmas shopping, remember to add a treat or two to the list for yourself. I always add a small box of truffles and hide them away to enjoy with a good book and a bubble bath. Shhhh!
We think Christmas should be about reflection not perfection. So don’t stress about the details and instead learn to let go a little bit. Without a strict battle plan, your Christmas will have space to evolve. Space to do things a little differently.