If you’re anything like us, you will have a full diary this time of year…. there are the end of year parties, catch up’s, Christmas shopping (with kids!), the children’s concerts and parties, planning for next years school/ kinder year, Christmas carols and associated Christmas activities. Then there is the planning of Christmas day; where to have it and with whom, what foods are we going to have, decorations, seating arrangements. Aarg!
All this stress for one day a year! And what for?!? So we make the day special for our children and to teach them the gift of giving, but how can you do all this without becoming stressed and ‘over it all’ by the big day:
This is the most important thing. Keep all appointments/meetings in your diary and plan out your days. Make sure you make enough time in between and schedule time for you! Try and get most of the shopping done during the year when items are on sale, then you’re not stressed out and leaving everything until the last minute.
Make lists of who you need to buy presents for (and mark them off as you get them), what you need to buy for the day and what other family members can help with providing. If you need to do a few things to spruce up the house before Christmas, add these to the list as well.
To save time on wrapping
Give a gold coin (or two) to charity and get your gifts wrapped for you. Charities usually have gift wrapping stations at most shopping centres. It’s a win/ win situation; you get time to do other things, while the gifts are being wrapped and you feel good about donating to charity (it also shows the children the gift of giving to charity). And the charity receive some much-needed funds.
Make shopping easier
Shopping online, all at the click of the mouse and it gets delivered to you! There are a myriad of shops online, anything and everything you could ever want is available. Plus there are heaps of things you would never have seen in the stores. Who wants something anyone can get, when you can give something unique. No running around, no wasting time and no dragging kids around shopping in crowded centres. Not mention trying to find a car park!! Just make sure the site is reputable, you can tell by looking to see if there is a lock in the corner of the address bar.
Don’t try and organise the whole day yourself (yes, I am guilty of this!). Allocate roles to your family. Ask people to bring things, so a) you’re not preparing/ doing everything yourself b) you don’t have to bare all the costs associated with Christmas day.
Get the kids to help
Kids like to help and getting involved. They can help bake gingerbread men, shortbread, slices etc. They can also help with the decorations and setting up on Christmas Day.
Get the food early
Very important this one. Don’t leave the food shopping until last minute. You don’t want to be stuck with Turkey breast slices if you’ve planned your meal around a 20 kg Turkey. Same goes with puddings, these go amazingly fast (Yes, I’ve been caught out before and had to buy a tin pudding!). Also try and precook or prepare some of the Christmas day lunch in the days leading up to the big event.
Stick rigidly to your spending limit. Every year, without fail, one of us will say ‘Oh that doesn’t look that much compared to the other one, we better buy a few extra presents’. Although it may not look as if you’ve bought one of your children a lot compared to the other, the amount of money spent is the same and that’s what matters. Yes, children will notice but if you explain to them, they are usually happy. Our teenager used to get upset that his looked less than the other two, but his usually cost as much for one thing (Yes, the cost of presents goes up as they get older!). No one wants a huge credit card bill in January and wonder how you are going to pay for it. Don’t forget you have the kids going back to school/ kinder fees to pay in late January, as well.
Allow yourself a break during the day or during the lead up to Christmas and New Year. You might think that if you took half an hour to yourself the world would fall apart, it won’t. Take a nap, have a massage, have a long bath, read a book, watch some TV, listen to music, read a magazine and have a coffee, meditate, anything really but make sure you allow time for yourself.
This is not meant to be a stressful time of year, remember what it’s all about, the family getting together, having fun and enjoying your time together. I remind myself that it is all about the children and how they will remember the day that I have created for them.
Don’t go overboard
Presents – kids are quite happy to play with pretty much anything really, it doesn’t matter if it is a $10 toy or a $200 toy. Little ones usually play with the wrapping paper and the box the toy came in. We have bought the kids expensive toys in the past, to only have them sit in the corner after a few plays and they mostly play with the cheap toys ie matchbox cars, play doh etc.
Adults- Handmade presents are also nice. A lot of people appreciate the effort someone has gone to, to make something for them especially consumables or gather a few things up and make a small hamper of things they will use during the year. Bought hampers usually have a lot of things in them that don’t get eaten and/ or get thrown out.
Food – Remember the food waste you have every year. Do you really need so much?!? We don’t eat that much any other time of the year after all!
On The Day:
Don’t stress too much. Let the kids make a mess opening and playing with their presents. Boxing day is when you put boxes in the bin (According to my youngest anyway 🙂 ).
If you can’t stand mess, delegate an area for the kids to play in ie. if your guests are in the kitchen/ dining area, let the kids have the lounge. Same rule if you’re at the grandparents house 🙂 This also keeps the kids busy and out of the way while you are trying to do things.
Try and get it on cooking fairly early. Also, try and have cakes, biscuits etc ready (I usually make these the week before and try and freeze some of it and thaw them out the day before) and waiting to go out, drinks all ready in the fridge. If you can, try and cook the meat in the bbq, get a cheap foil turkey tray from the supermarket, all the mess drips into the tray, ready to be thrown out later (less mess in the kitchen). It also frees up room in the kitchen and oven.
To save time Xmas morning, have all your vegetables peeled the night/day before. These can be left in a bowl of water (or the sink) ready to be put in the oven. You can even have your peas etc sitting in the saucepan waiting. Also try and get away with using paper/ plastic plates and cutlery. there are some very deceptive plastic cutlery/ crockery out there these days… 😉 Less to clean up!
Try to Relax
You’ve opened the presents, played some games, eaten the Christmas dinner, tidied up (a bit), now Relax. Just chill out and enjoy the rest of the day. Put your feet up… you have done a good job! Look around you and be thankful for all you have and done, some people don’t have the fortune a lot of us have.
Have a fantastic and safe Christmas!