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Surviving Christmas – wait that’s a little negative, lets call this thing- thriving and delighting in the festive season

Well, we’re halfway through December and suddenly its dawned on us that Christmas is just around the corner. The school kids (and teachers!) are getting tired and cranky, work deadlines are more difficult and it’s becoming so much harder to be industrious because we know the holidays are nearly here.

For those that have been avoiding the malls and commercial media it can cause one to panic just a little bit. Here’s a few pointers to help you not only survive Christmas but actually thrive and enjoy the holiday season.

The most useful tip we can offer is manage your expectations.

We have all been exposed to the media fantasies of what constitutes Christmas – happy and well behaved families, tables groaning with food, perfect decorations, and the perfect, beautifully wrapped gifts.

We are under pressure to re-create this fantasy which causes other problems like…

Overspending – this causes huge stress for many families. In the bid to provide the perfect Christmas, budgets are thrown out the window and the credits cards are maxed out.

(Ideally you aspire to have a Christmas fund in place but if you paid for last Christmas using credit cards then the focus all year is on paying off credit card debt not saving for the this Christmas and so it goes.)

It’s no fun being on a budget at Christmas – it feels wrong – it is the season of giving after all.

Well, why not mentally re-frame the concept and give yourself the gift of not overspending. Find other ways to show the Christmas spirit, for example

  • decorate using plants, flowers, branches etc
  • use a system of Kris Kringle / Secret Santa
  • make gifts yourself
  • offer services as gifts eg massage, lawn mowing, window washing etc
  • eat at home instead of eating out
  • make Christmas dinner a “bring a plate” affair (visitors want to bring stuff anyway so they might as well make it useful)
  • be on the lookout for food specials in the weeks leading up to Christmas, stock up and hide it from the family
  • avoid too many trips to the shops – personally I find I get caught up in it all, thinking I don’t have enough, haven’t bought enough, haven’t spent enough to have a real Christmas.
  • resolve to start a Christmas fund next year (which will be more achievable if you haven’t maxed out the credit cards this year)

Another area to manage expectations is in our relationships.

If we have family members that don’t get on or get drunk or whatever, try to plan events so that these risks are minimised. Limit your (and their) exposure to the things / people that will inflame the situation. Don’t buy the fantasy that suddenly everyone is going to be well behaved – be realistic, be prepared and above all be kind to yourself…

Take care of your wellbeing – that is get sleep, don’t overextend yourself, don’t drink and / or eat too much and don’t expect too much from yourself and others. Let go of the expectations to provide a “perfect” Christmas. Decide what’s important to you during this Festive Season and celebrate the way you want to, not the way you feel you should.