We can all picture the scene. Grandma’s had one too many sherries and grandpa’s asleep in your favourite chair. You’ve spent half the day trying to piece together toys that apparently take a degree in rocket science to build. Someone ate all the purple Quality Streets. And now the cat’s got its paws on your lovingly prepared three-bird roast. Why did you think this year would be any different?
Despite our lofty expectations, the reality of Christmas can sometimes leave us feeling anything but festive. If your holiday season has become less about magic, more about money, stress and squabbles, it’s time to make a change. So say goodbye to your inner Grinch and read on for a few top tips to turn your Nightmare before Christmas into a Miracle on 34th Street…
Fail to plan, plan to fail
Planning out Christmas like a military operation may not seem very festive, but it’s the only foolproof way you’ll get to enjoy it when it finally rolls around. Now’s the time to start writing and addressing cards, check your decorations, make a gift list and buy frozen items before the crowds get too manic. It’s also time to make any bookings for upcoming social events, last minute haircuts or a hire car to make sure you get where you need to be without worrying about public transport schedules and delays.
You may think online shopping “takes the magic out” of gift buying. And if you do, then your memory may be deceiving you. There’s nothing magic about grown adults wrestling each other over the last LEGO City coast guard or Furby Boom. And if you’re too polite to actually wrestle in public, you’ll still spend your shopping trip secretly hating your fellow festive foragers. This is a part of Christmas that can be swiftly crossed off the list of traditions. Shop online and save your sanity – as well as lots of money.
Keep kids busy
The excitement of a child is one truly magical thing about Christmas. But sometimes you could do with that magic being contained a little when you’ve got a lot of other things on your plate. Make your kids feel involved by having them help with the Christmas preparations. If you’re hosting then why not have them design a festive menu for each guest? Or pre-bake a few batches of Christmas cookies and freeze them, ready to whip out for some colourful icing decorations. If all else fails, the words “Santa needs these” tend to work wonders.
Be the master of your own destiny…
How many times have you uttered the words, “let’s catch up before Christmas!” knowing full well that between work, parties, pantomimes, relatives, shopping, and everything else, your calendar is already overflowing? This year, try pioneering the phrase, “let’s not catch up before Christmas!” with your friends. They’ll probably thank you for it.
Organising your festive catch-ups for the New Year can also do wonders to dispense those January blues – and it means you can take advantage of all the low-season offers. Try daily deal websites like Groupon for great savings on your merry post-Christmas catch-ups.
Make a list…
…and check it twice. No, really. Plan your menu and make a list – and stick to it. It’s easy to get caught up in supermarket panic buying when you see everyone else stocking up as if it was the eve of the apocalypse. But when you feel your heart rate start to increase and that doubt creeping in, just remember – the shops are open on Boxing Day. You’re going to be fine.
Do your bit
With all the stress of organising the perfect Christmas, it’s easy to forget the true meaning of the season. However you choose to celebrate this time of year, it’s a time to think of others as well. There are hundreds of charities vying for your attention and making it easier than ever for you to do your bit. Cash for Kids Mission Christmas asks members of the public to buy just one extra gift this season to donate to a child in poverty. Help someone less fortunate than yourself and remember what it’s all about.
Stay one step ahead
As if the roads weren’t bad enough in the winter, suddenly at Christmas time everyone starts plonking six-foot fir trees on their roof racks or stuffing them into boots that won’t close properly. Don’t be a festive fiend – hire a van to transfer that perfect tree with ease and avoid finding pine needles in your car until July. A van is also great for getting extra furniture round to relatives’ houses so no-one has to eat their Christmas dinner from the comfort of a garden chair.
Share the load
The days of expecting the woman of the house to slave over a hot stove for her extended family every Christmas are over. Modern families don’t fit traditional moulds, and your Christmas dinner doesn’t have to either. If you’re hosting this year, think of your job as a coordinator rather than a cook. Ask everyone to bring a dish – then you don’t have to worry about their gluten intolerance, dairy allergy, carb-free diet or inexplicable love of Brussels sprouts.
If all else fails…
Leave the country. Just go. After all, next year will roll around in no time. If this sounds like your perfect Christmas wish, check out our winter car hire deals and don’t look back!