Christmas Market in Hyde park

Christmas Market in Hyde park

Are you wishing for a hassle-free Christmas this year? For some of us, the prospect of Christmas can be daunting, even for the strong-willed. It’s a time when you might feel stressed over buying gifts or if you’re hosting, you might feel concerned about how to get the preparations going, without feeling overwhelmed. But in spite of our concerns, we can take the pain out of Christmas.

The run up to Christmas

Here are a few questions that might play on your mind:

  • Can you afford to buy gifts? If you are on a budget, it might be a good idea to buy presents every other year and save some money. Send some beautiful cards as a substitute for them.
  • What should you buy and whom should I give presents to? After all not everyone believes in Christmas. How about having a secret Santa and at least everyone is likely to receive?
  • Would people like what you’ve bought?
  • How would you find the time to get the shopping done? Plan ahead.
  • Should you buy wrapping paper, tags, cello tape, gift bags, Crackers or do you have some left over from last year.
  • Who’s going to wrap them?
  • Who’s going to write up the cards?
  • Who’s going to set up the tree, lights and decorations in your home and volunteer to do this painstaking task?
  • Then there’s the food preparation, crockery, etc. – who on earth is going to prepare and cook the dinner for a group of people single handedly? 🙁

Hope nothing’s missing? This list can go on until tomorrow? 🙂

Here’s how to have a hassle-free Christmas:

  1. Planning in advance is the key, but not the complete answer to a hassle-free Christmas. Start with writing a to-do list as early as July and split it into 1) Gift ideas/shopping and 2) Food ingredients and preparations.
  2. Check cupboards for unused items from the previous Christmas, (with the exception of food). Re-use baking trays and other items that are still in good condition.
  3. To relieve tension, take a break from home and see the spectacular lights in Regent Street, Oxford Street, Carnaby Street or your local high street.

    Christmas light in Regents Street

    Christmas light in Regents Street

  4. If possible, start your shopping in advance, on one early morning and avoid the crowds.
  5. Bring/Give joy to the needy by signing up to a charity like Shelter or a debt relief charity. Volunteering can be rewarding and self-fulfilling.
  6. Look out for elderly neighbours and relatives, those with mobility restrictions and the lonely – they need some warmth and comforting.
  7. For friends and family living abroad, it’s worth sending cards in the post as early as November well ahead of the postal cut off date.
  8. Make the most of your support network. You’ll be amazed how some children, teens and young adults  love to use their creative gifting – get the older and responsible ones to safely set up the tree and decorations but remind them to tidy up afterwards.
  9. Get your party dress or suit well ahead of the office party!
  10. Wrap up and get that special gift at one of the Christmas markets – they’ve grown in numbers over the past years. There’s the Southbank Christmas Market, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, Tate Modern and Westfield Stratford City Christmas market.

    Christmas Market in Hyde Park

    Christmas Market in Hyde Park

  11. Have a great day out away from the shoppers, get your skates on and head off to one of the ice rinks. You will find them at Somerset House, Natural History Museum Ice Rink, Eye skate at The London Eye, Ice Rink Canary Wharf, Westfield London Ice Rink and the new one at Vauxhall.
  12. Visit Kew Gardens after dark and view the seasonal illuminations.
  13. Sing your heart out and join in with the singing of Carols at St Paul’s Cathedral or The Royal albert Hall.
  14. Avoid spending money you don’t have! Christmas comes around only once a year, so just buy what you need.

On Christmas Day

  1. Take regular breaks from cooking and drink plenty of water to hydrate.
  2. To keep the momentum going, set a time for the big meal and a time for opening those long awaited gifts.
  3. Keep guests entertained and allocate tasks. Select music, films and games for everyone. Children love board games like Jenga.
  4. You might also want to think about interesting, but non-sensitive topics for discussion around the table. Disputes can be at an all time high around Christmas, especially if family members aren’t used to being around each other for two weeks! Remember the holidays are not for venting!

The Aftermath

Make some sandwiches or rolls with leftover vegetables, Turkey, Chicken or other meat you might have, rather than cooking from scratch.

Ease off the pain of cooking by visiting a Spa for a day or two and switch off from the world or have a few rest days before going back to work.

If the cold weather is stopping you from getting out, wrap up and take advantage of the free events in the London. Let’s make this season hassle-free this year by leaving the hassle behind.