Love it or hate it, there’s no way you can ignore Christmas. From mid October, we are subject to a constant slew of advertising messages, telling us how perfect our lives will be if we would only buy X, and how happy and fulfilled our kids would be if they received Y under the tree this year. Even the most grounded amongst us will admit to an occasional wobble if they don’t have a roaring log fire in an oak-panelled room with an 8 foot tree, a table groaning with homemade mince pies and mulled wine, children fit for the John Lewis ad, the perfect present bought and wrapped for everyone, snow billowing against the windows and an organic, corn fed monster of a turkey roasting in the oven… …and… breathe! Here are some tips to surviving – and enjoying – Christmas and for starting the New Year as you mean to go on: November – December
- Take the pressure off yourself. Chances are, it won’t be like it is in the adverts. But that’s someone else’s idea anyway. What’s your version of the ideal Christmas? Take time to think about your own favourite Christmas memories. They’re probably mostly not gift related. Write them down and think about what made them so special. How can that be recreated? It might be about time spent with people, not money spent on them, for example.
- Delegate! There isn’t a big medal for doing everything yourself, so why not share out gift buying, card writing, present wrapping, house preparing and cooking tasks with your partner, children or even guests? That gives YOU the chance to enjoy yourself too, and (most!)people generally like to feel helpful. It’s no fun being a Christmas martyr, and no fun being around one either.
- Use the internet. Yes, the idea of carefully selecting personal gifts whilst wrapped up in your snuggliest woollies in a snow-dusted Christmas market is a beautiful one. But often the reality is trudging along a drizzly, grey, overcrowded high street, grabbing whatever 3 for 2s haven’t sold out yet. So make yourself a list, pour yourself a drink and investigate what’s out there in cyberspace. You don’t have to stick to the old favourites such as amazon – try folksy.com for handmade, unusual items, or get experience vouchers from redletterdays.co.uk. You can even club together online with friends or family to buy a special, bigger gift at shareagift.com.
- If you’re looking for an innovative and inspiring gift, how about giving a voucher for my Rock Your Resolutions mini course? 😉
- Keep costs down but creativity up. Challenge your friends and/or family to spend just £5 on each person’s present. You can trawl your local charity shops, put together little hampers of sweets, or knit them a scarf but it has to be under that fiver! Fun and frugal.
- Look after yourself. There’s so much rich food and alcohol going around at this time of year, and that’s great, but don’t overstock your house with it so that you end up eating it constantly. Buy in some treats, for sure, but remember that dates and satsumas are as Christmassy as chocolates. And brisk walks in the fresh air will boost your mood. You’ll feel so much more energetic, as well as giving your body a better chance of fighting off any bugs going round. And you’ll be very glad of it in the harsh light of New Year’s Day morning…
- Make space. Christmas inevitably involves a large influx of ‘stuff’, be it presents or visiting in-laws(!), so now is the perfect time to have a clear out in preparation. And if you do it early enough, you can make some money from your clear out on eBay to go towards the present fund! Why not join in a Throw Out Thursday on the Straightforward Coaching facebook page to get some support?
- Pass on unwanted Christmas gifts with love and gratitude; don’t hang on to them with guilt. Exchange them, sell them or give them away, but don’t let them take up space in your house or your head.
- A new year dawning can bring on the post-feast guilt like nothing else. But, however much of a good idea it may seem, don’t start a full-on detox on New Year’s Day. By all means cut back on the treats and up the fruit and veg count, but too big a change too quickly is almost always doomed to failure. Make your good intentions sustainable.
- Dark and chilly evenings or rainy January weekends don’t have to be a dead loss. Times like these are perfect for batch cooking warming soups and stews or baking bread. Bung them in the freezer and they’ll be ready for you whenever you want a healthy, homecooked dinner but you just don’t have the time or the inclination to cook from scratch.
- New Year is famously a time for resolutions and new beginnings. That’s great, but remember it can also be very dark and gloomy too so don’t be too hard on yourself with the turning over of new leaves! Be realistic and give yourself some time – see the whole year as a work in progress and don’t expect to be totally sorted by January 2nd. Join in on my Rock Your Resolutions mini course and set realistic, exciting and achievable aims for 2012.
- Get out whenever you can. Fresh air, however chilly, will make you feel better as it blows away the cobwebs. Walk or cycle instead of taking the car for short journeys – you’ll feel better, look better and save money too. Result!
Keep it real and be kind to yourself throughout the run-up, the event itself and its aftermath. Have fun, and remember it’s just another day to be lived from your heart, not stage managed to an anonymous ad-man’s fickle prescription! Cheers!