Christmas is an emotive time of year isn’t it. Can be huge fun, annoyingly chaotic, seriously tiring, heartwarming (or all four!). But it’s generally an indulgent time with your family or, for all too many people, an extremely lonely few days. We may or may not be swapping Christmas baubles for Christmas Bubbles again this year but I’m sure some of these how to survive Christmas tips will be useful for us all…
£££££££ A typical UK household usually spends just over £2,500 in a month. But in the run up to Christmas our spending habits change. On average we spend £750 more in December, which is almost a third more than in a typical month.
So it makes sense to make a list of everything you’d like to buy and set a realistic budget for each item. And, of course, only buy those things if you can afford them. Speak with your family and friends and come to an arrangement not to buy each other gifts this year or set a low budget per present (a relief to us all!) As they say, it’s the thought that counts. You could make homemade presents, look for bargains online, or organise a Secret Santa.
VISITING FAMILY If you’re travelling by public transport to visit family or friends between 23 – 27 December, it’s best to pre-book tickets as the capacity of services may well remain reduced to allow for social distancing. On the bright side, trains will be less crowded.
NOT ENOUGH TIME? Buying Christmas presents, wrapping them, decorating our homes and buying food for the festivities can be stressful and tiring. Buying gifts online has obvious benefits – you get a world of choice and parcels are conveniently delivered (often free of charge) to your door. Click here for some original gift ideas. As there are probably very few food delivery slots left by now, go to the supermarket during quiet times – less queues at the tills and easier to social distance. Just Google your local supermarket and you’ll find this helpful information:
THERE’S NO NEED TO BE OWN YOUR OWN Unless you truly relish the idea of Christmas alone, you can do something about it now. If you’ve already turned down invitations, you may regret it and feel lonely afterwards, so call them back and say “yes”. This is particularly important this year when we may well end up being limited to three households depending on what happens with Omicron, so if they’ve asked you, they really want you to come along!
Volunteer. It’s a fantastic way to connect with others, boost your self-esteem, bring joy to people who are less fortunate, and you will feel appreciated. You could help at a soup kitchen, food bank, a children’s hospital, or visit residents at a nursing home. Your local church, community organisation and/or council should be able to point you in the right direction.
Host an online Christmas Do you have online friends? Do you have long-distance relatives? Then organise a get together on Skype, Zoom or Facetime. People can drop in and out as they please, and you don’t have to cook, clean, or even get off the sofa.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP If you are the one cooking on Christmas Day, don’t take it all upon yourself. Ask other family members to bring different elements of the meal – canapes, salads, cheese or desserts for example. Alternatively, delegate tasks in the kitchen and get your family to help out. Cheat – buy ready made stuffing, Yorkshires or puddings (no-one is likely to notice!) Try not to get stressed – it’s only a glorified Sunday lunch after all.
EVERYTHING IN MODERATION Although it’s tempting, you’ll be glad if you don’t overeat and if you alternate booze with soft drinks. Having a bit of a binge on the big day is one thing – overeating and drinking over the whole holiday is another. Although alcohol might make you feel more relaxed, remember it’s a depressant and can cause low mood, irritability or even aggressive behaviour.
FAMLY TENSIONS For many people, Christmas can turn tricky with relatives getting argumentative. Accept that your family is not perfect and that they will probably say things you don’t like, but don’t let it spoil your day. Keep clear of risky conversation topics, supplying too much alcohol, and try and get everyone involved in a group activity such as silly games or a walk in the fresh air. If you do get a bit stressed, take a few long slow deep breaths to help you relax – it really does work. Go for a few minutes walk or a quick bike ride if there’s nowhere in the house that you can escape to.
KEEP CHILDREN OCCUPIED There are three things kids need every day: exercise, entertainment and food. Ask them to put their electronics away and join in the Christmas spirit, for example, by making place names for the table or having a lovely chat with granny.
DON’T EXPECT CHRISTMAS DAY TO BE PERFECT Things don’t always go to plan, but it really isn’t the end of the world.
GET ACTIVE Find some time to do some exercise during the Xmas break. A brisk walk or cycle every day will help work off those second helpings you may have had. Getting active will also help you feel normal again and dispel any festive cabin fever. After the holiday, go back to your usual hobbies and pastimes as quickly as possible.
Last but not least, we all need to do our bit by wearing our masks, getting our booster and, if we haven’t already, our flu jab.
Wellbeing is one of our most popular categories here on A&G – read an article or two here