Please enter banners and links.
Many of us get swept along by the magical notion of the perfect Christmas, but last year even the Archbishop of Canterbury expressed concern at the amount of financial pressure people subject themselves to at this time. Some people over-spend so much that it’s estimated it could take them three years to pay it all back.
Let’s look at some ways to plan and make for a happier Christmas:
– Where to spend the Christmas festivities is often a major contributor to family stress and tension, especially when there are in-laws, ex-partners and step families to consider. Some families compromise and agree to alternate custody between Christmas and New Year, some families decide to avoid conflict by having their Christmas meal at an altogether different time. Plan and agree in advance so that it makes for a happier Christmas.
– Present shopping can be fraught with difficulties; what to buy, how much to spend and for whom can present a real dilemma. Try interesting local markets that sell unique, attractive items that are perfect for gifts. Lovely, locally sourced foods, jars of preserves, handmade pictures and crafts all make for relatively inexpensive yet thoughtful presents.
– Have you a particular skill that would make the perfect Christmas gift? Genuine offers to help in the garden, look after children, make a cake, cook dinner, paint a picture are often much appreciated.
– Discuss present giving with children, especially the older children; let them know that you’re cutting back and that they’ll receive one main present this year. Agree amongst adults that you’re only giving gifts to children or commit to a price limit or a Secret Santa approach to present giving.
– What about spending time together as an alternative to buying gifts? Children often appreciate the wonderful memories of times when you went bird watching, spent an afternoon painting, scrap-booking or preparing and eating a picnic together. Time and attention can be the most valuable gift of all.
– Share catering over the Christmas period by asking your guests to provide a dish. Many people routinely bring a bottle, so extend the request and include everyone in the food provision, thus sharing the cost and effort.
– Plan family meals ahead. Draw up a timetable and prepare as much food as possible in advance. This avoids expensive panic buying and means that you’re able to batch cook simple, tasty Winter casseroles. People enjoy these as a welcome alternative to rich, heavy Christmas meals.
– Investigate free events like carol services, concerts and gallery openings. You may need to book some seats in advance. Plan a brisk country walk for one day, an outside ball game for another. Get out your board games and cards and enjoy the opportunity for conversation, fun and friendly rivalry.
– Don’t forget to schedule some ‘me’ time for taking a pleasant bath, getting ready, chatting and enjoying your guests’ company. Record your favourite programmes so that you can relax and watch them at your leisure. Don’t be afraid to delegate some tasks so that family members feel proud that they’ve contributed to the day’s success. Accept offers of help with the simpler tasks like vegetable preparation, setting the table, washing up.
And remember that the things that go wrong are often the very things that people remember with affection for many years to come, they’re the special memories that make for the perfect Christmas Day.