Three Steps for a Happy Christmas

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Christmas is the time to celebrate family, loved ones and the truly important things in life, but all too often we can become distracted by other concerns, wanting to provide the perfect Christmas for our nearest and dearest.

Let’s look at three steps for a happy Christmas, ways to make for an easier, stress free time with these festive ABC’s;

– Ability. Accept that you cannot physically do everything yourself. Manage stress by asking for help and letting others share. Your children may enjoy making cards, setting the table, planning some of the entertainment. Your mother-in-law may delight in being asked to make the Christmas cake or the dish she’s most famous for. Allow others to participate and have their own areas of responsibility.

– Ambiance. It’s far better and more conducive to a relaxed Christmas home and family if areas of potential conflict and stress are minimised. Agree to be less of a perfectionist and concentrate more on comfort and harmony. When others undertake tasks smile and acknowledge the gesture, even if things are not done to your exacting standards. Afterwards people remember the fun and laughter, not whether the floor was clean or the napkins folded ‘correctly’.

– Amusements. At a time of significant financial stress aim to search out the many entertainments that are provided free or for minimal expense. Check out carol services, concerts, markets and local shows. Maybe organise a game of football or a walk in the nearby woods or beach. Or indoors, think about playing charades or running talent contests. Get out your board games and discover how many hours of fun they can provide.

– Buying. For many families the fear of being overwhelmed by debt is never far away, sometimes taking up to three years to repay the expense of a single Christmas. A change in interest rates or personal circumstances can throw a tightly managed budget into tragedy, causing serious financial stress and hardship.

But a survey by Ikea discovered that when children were asked to write two letters, one to Father Christmas and the other to their parents saying what they wanted from them, when told they could only send one of their letters every child elected to send the one to their parents. Memorable experiences and time together often mean more than expensive gifts.

– Booze often features large at Christmas. If you’re attending work-related events try to keep in mind that you’re still at work. It doesn’t matter that you’re attending an event with a free bar, tomorrow you’re going to have to face all these people when you’re sober! Apologise straight away if you’ve behaved badly and put it behind you. Saying you’re driving can be a good way to ensure that you keep a lid on any temptation to drink to excess. Alternate alcoholic drinks with water to slow you right down. Enjoy, have fun and stay safe.

– Catering and lavish spreads are often the focal point of a great Christmas, but people often tire of rich indulgent dinners and welcome the sight of a delicious homemade soup with crusty bread or a stew or casserole with all the trimmings, especially after a brisk country walk or energetic game of football. Oftentimes these dishes can be prepared in advance and cooked as required, so easing some of the stress of Christmas catering.

– Charity. Don’t forget your favourite charity at this time of year. Many charities used to benefit from the sale of Christmas cards but as more people choose not to send cards it can reflect in a loss of income for them. Also some charities will lose volunteers over the holiday period and need extra help in preparing meals at shelters, caring for abandoned animals or manning phone lines.

Give some thought to perhaps helping out your local charities. People who are alone over the holidays can find it rewarding to volunteer, make new friends and provide a valuable service through donating some of their time. A great sense of camaraderie frequently develops as everyone pulls together through that shared sense of purpose and goodwill.

A little forethought and planning can make your Christmas very special. Adopt some of these ideas to manage seasonal stress and enjoy a happy Christmas time.