Today is the first Sunday of Advent and I have just spent the weekend celebrating a mini Christmas with my family up north. As such we are firmly in Christmas mode, and I am actually feeling not only very good about it, but vaguely organised and pretty unstressed too. Following both my own and my friends bitter experiences (!) I have honed Christmas over the years and I thought I’d share someof the things we're doing to keep stress-and bankrupcy-at bay and actually enjoy the festive season.
- Give yourself permission to prioritise you and your family. You don't have to visit every relative under the sun this Christmas. We now visit one family per year meaning lots more time to relax at home; and both families have actually been super understanding.
- Use these 5 words: "I won't if you won't." Save everyone the unnecessary crap and just agree to not buy gifts, especially for adults. Spend the time, effort and money on a lovely meal together instead. If you must, do so in a mindful, planet loving way. Here are some ideas.
- choose an experience that brings you together- book the theatre or afternoon tea.
- Secret Santa. We have don't this with Dave’s family this year and it means so much less hassle.
- If it needs to be an object, then use Patchwork Present to get something you or your child really wants.
- Or make some small simple homemade gifts. DIY's coming up.
- For kids,
- If you can't cope with the thought of not having traditional Christmas dinner, then spread the cost of Christmas food and arrange for everyone to bring a dish. Or go off piste and make something totally different (and cheaper)
- Try not to do too much. Sometimes the list of lovely festive things to do can be a bit overwhelming. There are lots of things to be excited about this season but you don’t have to do them ALL. For the sake of your (and your families) wellbeing, choose just a couple of activities and prioritise rest time at home. (Psst, If you must, use your own/your child's 'illness' as a cover. I didn't say that)
- Don’t expect too much of the kids. This brilliant article hits the nail on the head with this, but in short, although Christmas can be really magical for kids, it can also be really intense; long car journeys, rarely seen relatives demanding kisses, having lots of strangers in the house, going to other strangers houses, the expectation to eat rich food, show gratitude for gifts they don’t want, be polite and gracious at all times… So. Have their backs.
- Don't buy decorations. Either Scrump (responsibly) or use garden greenery. Make snowflakes and paperchains. Or have a Christmas decoration swap. If you're bored of yours, chances are your friends are too. Arrange a swap night.
- Use fabric wrapping paper, especially if you're a fabric hoarder like me. Save any white tissue paper or brown paper you receive and re-use- any wrinkles add to the effect, as demonstrated beautifully in Lapin Blu’s post. Look out for some tips coming up.
- Make time to see people you actually want to see, people who nourish you. I know that for some, this isn't always the people they 'have' to see over the Christmas period. A coffee/gin with a few good friends in the middle of the festive season, and an opportunity to offload, can be a balm for the soul.
- Don’t bother with christmas cards. Or if you must, reduce the list or send a tasteful E card instead. They’re a source of stress/rubbish for many. We're hoping to send an E-Card with a short family newsletter (I confess to loving a family newsletter, bragging and al!)
- Take steps to look after you. Rest, eat nourishing food where possible, don't forget to drink water and go for that walk.
What steps have you taken to simplify life this Christmas? Have you got any sanity/money/planet saving tips to share?