How are your Christmas preparations coming along?
Our tree is up, and my Christmas shopping is almost finished!
Long term readers of this blog might be surprised that I even want to talk about Christmas preparations. I used to hate all the kerfuffle of the festive season, from Christmas entertaining to the blatant commercialism and pressure to spend, spend, spend.
But over the years I have moved from loathing, to having mixed feelings, and now … I have learned the secrets to not only stress less about Christmas, but to actually enjoy it!
Here’s how it happened …
Question How it’s Always Been Done
A few years back we stopped and thought about how we would LIKE to spend Christmas Day itself, rather than what was expected of us.
When we first got together, because my parents were divorced we had THREE sets of parents to visit on or around Christmas Day, which meant we spent a lot of time in the car – and almost none in our own home.
After spending hours stuck in a traffic jam on Christmas Day a few years ago, we realised things had to change.
It might seem selfish to some, but we decided we want to spend Christmas Day at our own home and that is what we have done ever since. We do sometimes have a friend/family member join us, if we know they will otherwise be at a loose end. I can’t tell you what a joy it is to be able to have a relaxed Christmas Day at home! (We still catch up with family at that time of year, just not on the Big Day itself.)
I’ve found that we actually enjoy cooking a Christmas dinner, decorating, opening presents, etc because we don’t have to rush off and be somewhere else.
Besides, now our own kids are grown up and have partners of their own, we can let the next generation worry about doing the rounds 😉 . But I solemnly promise I will never have a hissy fit just because they don’t manage to see us on Christmas Day itself, like my own mother tended to do …
Simplifying Gift Giving
When we used to do the rounds at Christmas, a Kris Kringle made gift giving a lot easier (and less expensive).
However now we don’t actually SEE folk on Christmas Day, we no longer have to worry about being a part of it. It got tougher every year anyway as family members started living further apart, and leading their own lives – how do you buy for somebody when you have no clue what they really want?
Younger family members aren’t left out, we like to give them a small amount of money to spend how they please (and they can take advantage of the Christmas sales). One branch of the family spends a lot on presents, and we hated feeling like it was a competition. Doing it this way, we are happily waving the white flag of surrender. We’re not entering into the fray!
The husbear and I always SAY we are going to give the kidults money for Christmas (and they’d be very happy with that) – but in a strange way it REALLY takes the pressure off! As a result we usually end up picking out gifts for them too, purely for the fun of it 🙂 .
We try to tell the kidults not to go overboard buying for us … but they’re not very good at listening, LOL. Since they’ve been earning themselves, they have been so generous which is super sweet … but, I now understand why our own parents have said for years, not to worry about getting them anything for Christmas (even if they still spoil us).
We know how expensive it can be to set yourself up as an adult and the financial responsibilities it can involve, so we don’t want to be a drain on their budget. We’d much rather spoil them!
Besides at this time of life, if we really want anything we can get it for ourselves. It’s true: it’s not about the money, it’s the thought that counts. Something little and personal is much more appreciated.
My other tip for gift giving made easy, is to take advantage of online shopping, and avoid the pandemonium (though you need to do it early). And if you’re really stuck for gift ideas, here are some posts I’ve written which you may find useful:
Forget about Making it Perfect
So many of us strive to put on the “perfect” Christmas. First of all, there’s no such thing as PERFECT so you are only setting yourself up for failure.
And secondly, it’s those times that things tend to go awry, that make for the best stories in years to come …
For example, we like to glaze a ham for Christmas lunch. Except there was this one time a couple of years ago, when we left it too late to buy our ham and they were all sold out.
We ended up buying ham steaks instead, and glazing those – it was a lot cheaper AND still tasted amazing! Plus we still laugh about it now. Just because things don’t work out “perfectly” doesn’t mean that it has to ruin Christmas.
Watch Christmas Movies
This year, the husbear and I have been watching lots of Christmas movies on Netflix, and it really does help to set the mood and make you feel like it truly is a magical time of year.
The Secret to Enjoying Christmas
Our way of celebrating Christmas might not be for everyone, but it sure helps my mental health at this time of year.
However, I think the biggest tip I can pass on from my experience is this:
Remind yourself you don’t HAVE to do anything … and suddenly you will find that you are doing things, and getting into the Christmas spirit, simply because you WANT to.
And that my friends, is my secret to enjoying Christmas!
What is YOUR best tip on keeping the stress levels contained at Christmas?!