I love Christmas. I love the day, I love the run up, I love the whole atmosphere and the Christmas spirit that starts to appear at this time of year. I love our advent candle, which we’ve been lighting each morning (as we scarf down the chocolate from our advent calendar). And gifts and mulled wine and Christmas trees!
I don’t love all the pressure there is at Christmas. For things to be picture perfect. To give the perfect gifts. To fill stockings and stockings worth of treats from Santa. Who’s putting all this pressure on us? From my point of view, entirely and completely myself. So I’m taking some of the pressure of, and here’s how I’m doing it.
1. Stop imagining that your handmade decorations will look like the ones on Pinterest
I have visions in my head of what I’d like my tree and my house to look like during the Christmas period. These visions are entirely created by Pinterest and stylists I follow on Instagram. The trouble with them is that I am absolutely not a stylist. I am not a professional maker of any sort. So, when I talk about ‘handmade decorations’, what I WANT to create is an authentically rustic Christmas wreath. What I’ll actually create is a something very wonky with gaps throughout. But this year, I don’t care – I will still hang this on my front door. My other decor is going to be largely created by an almost 4 and almost 2 year old. It’s all full of love, but unlikely to be tasteful.
For me, making stuff is mostly relaxing. For you it might not be. If it isn’t, give up on making things by hand! Really. Either don’t have it at all or go out and pay someone else to make it for you. There is no shame in that.
2. Chill with the presents
I have a wide extended family that I buy gifts for, and the year before last, I got really carried away and went well (well) over my budget buying presents for them. I love giving people gifts, but the amount of time and money I spent was disproportionate to the amount of joy those gifts actually gave. So last year, I found something I personally loved, and gave that to everyone. The same gift! In different colours. I felt like a cheat! But I also removed about 80% of my gift buying stress. So this year I’ve done the same thing. No, it isn’t a super personal gift, but it is something really nice that I think they will love, and it massively reduces the energy I need to exert on it.
3. Revel in the wealth of Netflix’s Christmas programming
Between Arthur Christmas and The Christmas Chronicles and The Princess Switch, there are so many ‘so bad it’s good’ movies on Netflix right now, I find it incredibly pleasing. When you feel like you’ve got too much going on in your brain, put some Christmas cheese on and you can actually feel your mind start to unwind. See also: Michael Buble’s Christmas album.
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4. Let someone else cook your Christmas dinner
I don’t mean someone else in your family (although, of course, that’s a good option), I just mean: there are a lot of pre-prepared options when it comes to side dishes at Christmas, and although generally I’d say preparing food from scratch is always the best option (in terms of waste, if not necessarily taste), sometimes you’ve just got to say ‘there is no way I can fit another pan on the hob, we’re buying pre-mashed potatoes’. Or, the gravy is going to be Bisto. Or the stuffing is coming out of a box. Whatever it is, if it makes the meal feel doable, rather than a huge time consuming faff, that’s what you’ve got to do.
5. Screw Santa
I would love to take my children to a wood somewhere, where they could meet Santa, tell him what’s on their list, and then pick a gift out of a hat. I’d love to get a cute photo of my kids with Santa. But this year, it’s not happening. We don’t have a car, so a wood is out of the question. Our local garden centre is pretty much sold out, apart from some very awkward times.
Plus, everywhere else I have looked is INSANELY expensive. Let me give you an example. For my husband and I to take the kids to see Santa at Battersea zoo, we would need to spend £14 per child PLUS pay for our entry to the zoo (£9.50 each). So that’s FORTY SEVEN BRITISH POUNDS for them to sit on someone’s lap for 2 minutes!
So. Yes. I’m hoping we might see Santa at our local Christmas fair, in which case, if the queue isn’t horrendous, we’ll pay our £1.50 each to say hello. But if not, Santa can wait for another year (or never – we’ll just write him letters instead).
What are you doing this Christmas to take the pressure off? I’d love to know how you make things easier at this time of year!
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