The next lines will tell you a true story.
Christmas makes people ill. And crazy.
We get it, it’s hard to ignore the myriad of terrible things that go hand in hand with the festive season.
How could it not be, as “if everything doesn’t satisfy the image of an impeccable holiday picture, then it means it’s a failure”.
Here’s the kicker – you don’t have to abide by the rules of perfection. There isn’t a Judgement day for people who “fell short” of producing a Christmas to rival all future Christmases.
Having said that, it’s always worth bearing in mind that the 25th of December comes but once a year. So regardless of what this season brings you, stand your ground, and battle the anxiety makers proudly with the next 12 strategic tactics.
Issue #1: Getting stuck in traffic
TIS THE SEASON to get stuck in car-to-car jams on your way to your relatives. If you are one of the millions of Brits that go home to your parents’ home for the holidays, hear this – traffic jams are unavoidable. They always happen around the holidays, most notably on December 20th or 23rd.
Solution: avoid rush hours
Make sure you are out on your wheels before 11 a.m. on the days leading up to Christmas.
Planning to go back? Then your best solution to avoid traffic altogether is to travel on Christmas day – yes, you may have to skip the roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings, but it’s the day with the least traffic on the roads. Your other options include Boxing day (it’s like any other day, traffic-wise) and 28th of December.
Issue #2: Impromptu or planned relatives visit
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Take the words of National Accident helpline study, for example: “Putting a show for your family and friends and cook the perfect dinner provides the most antagonising pressure on hosts”.
Solution: organise your home in advance.
Get ahead of the challenge and start putting your house, shopping and food menu in order, as early as possible to enjoy a stressless holiday. Empty your drawers and cupboards for all the Christmas shopping you’re about to do. Plus, some of those items can make up for really nice DIY gifts.
Stock up on tins and jars to freeze Christmas leftovers – you don’t want that thrown out.
Finally, make some room for guests’ coats by emptying your wardrobe and entrée hall hangers.
Issue #3: Your successful friends coming over to gloat
Oh well, you can undo what you did in the previous step. If your friends are that bad, do they really deserve your invite? It might also be a good time to ‘edit’ your Christmas card list!
Issue #4: Cooking the perfect Christmas dinner
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Everyone spent their childhood differently and has different memories of what the perfect Christmas dinner would look like. Therefore, trying to suit everyone’s personal preferences would be a lost cause. On top of that, by the end of the cooking marathon, the kitchen looks like a bomb site. So, to combat this:
Step 1. Focus on cooking a good meal, don’t burn anything, and make sure to fill the air with the smell of Christmas food.
Step 2. Assemble your task force. Your kids and hubby can contribute a lot in the kitchen – washing and prepping the spuds or popping the pigs in blankets. If you are not the family type, then invite someone over and cook the dinner together.
Issue #5: Panic-buying Christmas shopping
The best way to do last-minute Christmas shopping is not to do it. Planning your free days up until Christmas ahead of time will save you the worry of arguably the most intense Christmas anxiety you are about to face. However, if you really didn’t find time, there’s still a way to avoid panic. Just shop online – plus, most stores have discounts for online purchases.
Issue #6: Opening presents & realising you were cheap
It won’t matter if your presents were cheaper than the rest, if you put some thought into the gift selection process. No need to feel guilty if you go with a simple gift in today’s era of consumerism – you never know, your friends might even praise you for the environmental consciousness you possess. Try getting crafty…there’s something easy to make for everyone – be it a coffee lover, a gardening enthusiast, a bookworm or a baking junkie. Check out Wikihow’s on how to select the perfect last-minute gift.
Issue #7: Money disappearing from your wallet
Let’s face it – it’s the holidays, you can allow yourself to go a little over the line. But you can put the brakes on the overspending by making a thorough priority list for your immediate and necessary purchases, as well as the ones marked as indulgences. Keep an eye out for £££ saving deals which many companies offer this time of year. You can find anything from hair appointments and gifts to clothing and 2-4-1 cocktails to suit all tastes and budgets.
Issue #8: The impending office holiday party
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Christmas party can deffo turn disastrous if too many people decide to let themselves loose at once. People often drink too much and end up making a fool of themselves (even though it’s kind of like the office Christmas party book rule, right?). God forbid you end up having an argument with a colleague… or worse, your boss! Those things can flush your career down the drain.
To avoid that, simply be reasonable. Eat from the buffet, drink enough water, and put a plug on the alcohol over-consumption. The latter accounts for 99% of the office party failures.
Issue #9: The little one’s tricky Christmas questions
There comes a time that every parent dreads. The awkward questions that children ask around the holidays rarely have an easy answer. You could try a simple distraction technique, like whipping out a party popper (child-friendly ones, of course) and stun the curiosity out of them. Failing that you can always get ahead of the game and watch our CEO, Rune Sovndahl, answering some of the most common questions kids have for Santa.
Issue #10: Gaining weight
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So what if you let loose for one-time meal, it’s just one dinner. It’s all about the preparation. Make sure not to eat too much before and after, and come to terms with the fact that there will be the occasional extra choccy box lurking around. Bonus tip – break out the stretchy comfort clothes. You may not look a million dollars, but hey, there are worse things in life!
Issue #11: Pop-covers of classical Christmas songs. Over and over and over.
Nothing much you can do when your family or friends decide to play them once again. However, if you are at your desk, commuting or shopping, pull out your headphones to the rescue.
Issue #12: Cleaning up after the mayhem
Shutterstock / By iRocco
Don’t let the post-holiday clean-up rob you out of your happiness. Instead, turn the tide in your favour!
Use the help of your guests to wash a few dishes, throw out the bulk of the rubbish together, and move to another room to continue celebrating, so that you don’t have to leave too much for yourself after they’ve gone. And if you’d like to get an extra hand in, our membership programme offers some exclusive perks for its members.
So there you have it, once you speak openly about the anxieties and you have the willpower to combat them, there’s hardly anything that can prevent you from having a jolly time during Christmas. There are many more sides to the coin on how to get through this period without a nervous breakdown. Just remember that if things don’t go as planned, don’t worry too much and turn the accidents into fun stories for which you can tell to family and friends in the holidays to come.
Did we miss anything? Do you have any tips on how to combat the stress around the holidays? Let us know in the comments below or give us a shout on social!