Do you always want to have the perfect Christmas?…
Do you always seem to be more stressed at what is supposed to be a perfect time of year?…
Don’t worry we’re all in the same boat! I often fall into the trap of wanting to curate the perfect Christmas and in doing so losing sight of what it was I actually wanted.
Christmas is something that is built up to be this picture-perfect time with crackling fires, pristine houses decorated and themed, perfect bakes and dinner spreads large enough to feed the entire street. The sad reality that many of end up with is 4 hours spent trying to fix the Christmas tree lights, countless hours scouring the internet for that perfect gift for a loved one, and then countless more hours trying to wrap the presents we settled for in beautiful paper with the eco-friendly sticky tape that just won’t stick! And the latter usually happens at an inconvenient hour on Christmas eve after hours of prepping the house and food for the big day. And then we get to Christmas day and it all seems lovely till you realise that there is a massive pile of washing up, piles of wrapping paper, and a family argument over the rules of monopoly. Can you really not pay rent if someone doesn’t notice and should you get £400 for landing on go?
Many of us have grown up watching Christmas movies, listening to Christmas songs and just generally jumping on the hype that is the festive season. We spend at least 1 month and more increasingly 2 months, planning for the big day only to the reach it exhausted, depleted and with the most anti-climatic half-hearted pop of a champagne cork. Not really what we saw in the movies, right?
But what can we do about it? Well, the good news is we can create a calmer Christmas. It still probably won’t look like it does in the movies but that is okay.
Here are my top 5 tips to help you create a calmer Christmas
1. Plan where you want to fail. Creating a picture-perfect Christmas is probably not a possibility for you without losing the plot. If it is then go forth you Christmas angel. But if you are a little like me and want to excel in everything even at the cost of your own sleep and sanity then my tip to you is, plan where you want to fail.
Over your next cup of coffee, work out which parts of Christmas tradition you don’t care about and don’t bring you joy, and then either get rid of them completely or cut back on them. One year when I was young my family had pesto pasta for Christmas lunch because that is what we said we wanted, granted we’ve switched back now to a roast with all the trimmings but don’t be afraid to throw caution to the wind and scrap a core part of Christmas if it doesn’t bring you joy.
Your Christmas won’t look like a Christmas movie, we have to accept that and be okay with that, and we have to create the Christmas we want not what society expects.
2. How do you want to feel? Whether you want to feel relaxed, happy, calm or whatever it is, then everything you do in the lead up has to contribute to that. So, after you’ve shortened your to do list with tip one, check it again and make sure that everything, and yes I mean everything gets you closer to that feeling. For example, if you want to feel joy for your family, you probably don’t want to spend the week up to Christmas falling out over getting everything done. And if you want a calm Christmas you might want to reassess that 6-course dinner you had planned, or perhaps pre-make some of it. Never lose sight of how you want to feel, be it fun or quiet, it has to be the essence of all you do.
3. Christmas is more than presents and food, it is the memories we make. I read a quote earlier this year and it is probably one of the most poetic and powerful things I’ve ever read…..and it was by a 7 year old!
“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening the presents and just listen” – Bobby, Age 7
Turns out the youth of today really are going to save the world, and certainly going to save Christmas!
So, when you are worrying about not being able to cook the stuffing just the way your grandparents did, or not being able to buy your child the latest x-box game they want or not getting the decorations up on the first of December; remember what Bobby said and remember that Christmas is not about the material things. It is about what is in the room when we pause. It is about what is in our hearts. And that is where the magic of Christmas lies.
4. Keep some semblance of your normal life For me this means that yoga and meditation don’t go by the wayside. I know that I want to do these things regardless, and therefore I make sure that I can fit them in around preparing, and even more importantly around family time. I enjoy spending time with my family but at Christmas I want to be able to sit down and read a book, after all if you can’t at Christmas when can you. I want to be able to do my yoga practice and participate in family fun. You must figure out a balance of completely uprooting your normal life for Christmas and not changing anything at all.
All of us sit somewhere on a spectrum of this balance, and at times you have to put your foot down and say ‘no I want to do this and so this isn’t going to happen’. To fit my yoga practice in I will either wake up early while my family are insisting on a lie in, or if my family want to play 3 games in the afternoon I may play two and spend some time doing yoga or reading.
So, work out where you sit on the spectrum. Decide how much of your normal life you are willing to give up and how much of it is non-negotiable to make sure you can show up engaged and happy. Self-care is important even at Christmas!
If you want to do yoga or meditation over the festive period but aren’t sure how to keep it as a priority, then perhaps the inspiration of a course might help, in which case you can check out my online courses.
5. Plan ahead. In a relaxed way. I know you’ve heard this all before, ‘plan ahead and Christmas is easy’, but I don’t mean start planning in November, I mean play the long game and start in January! I keep a list on my phone of ideas for presents. Whenever someone suggests something they want in passing, I write it on my phone and over the year come up with a pretty successful list. I am also always on the lookout for little presents, in independent shops and abroad. By the time Christmas rolls around I have a few tricks up my sleeve even for the trickiest of people. It might be too late to do this one this year, but start now for next year and I promise you it will make your life so much easier
Bonus Tip: Do not compare your festive period to anyone else’s. Everyone has a different Christmas, but we all suffer from the same worries, the same strains of spending so much time with the family, or perhaps not enough time with family this year. No one is going to post the argument they had with their loved one on social media, so just remember to create the calm Christmas you want to have.