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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- If possible, start your shopping in advance, on one early morning and avoid the crowds.
- 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.
- Look out for elderly neighbours and relatives, those with mobility restrictions and the lonely – they need some warmth and comforting.
- 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.
- 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.
- Get your party dress or suit well ahead of the office party!
- 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.
- 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.
- Visit Kew Gardens after dark and view the seasonal illuminations.
- Sing your heart out and join in with the singing of Carols at St Paul’s Cathedral or The Royal albert Hall.
- Avoid spending money you don’t have! Christmas comes around only once a year, so just buy what you need.
On Christmas Day
- Take regular breaks from cooking and drink plenty of water to hydrate.
- To keep the momentum going, set a time for the big meal and a time for opening those long awaited gifts.
- Keep guests entertained and allocate tasks. Select music, films and games for everyone. Children love board games like Jenga.
- 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!
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.
I love this post as you do a good job of talking about making plans for Christmas. I read from start to finish and I can relate to the fact that Christmas is a time where people have to buy things to enjoy the season; It is true that it is necessary to plan. love the tips of how to have a hassle free Christmas. Thanks for sharing
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Most of us need some guidance at Christmas, regardless of where we are in life.
I agree with you that planning ahead and working at your own pace is one of the keys to a memorable Christmas. The other is to spend only what you can afford. You’ve included some lovely photos here – I like the one you started with, really caught the eye.
Thanks Lenie. Planning ahead is can help us have an enjoyable Christmas and we can work at a slow pace.
All very good tips, especially the planning ahead. For me, that has always been the key because it affords you time to enjoy the holiday too. Loved the photos! Have a wonderful holiday season 🙂
Thanks Jacquie. We could’nt possibly get by without planning ahead. I agree with your point that it affords us time to enjoy the holiday. 🙂
Hi Bola, smart ideas all the way around. I particularly like the planning ahead, as far out as July. If you are looking for gifts that early not only can you find good deals on things, you have time to find truly meaningful gifts that suit the recipient rather than just buying something last minute because you are in a hurry or items are all picked over already. 🙂
Hi Susan. Looking for gifts as early as July puts less strain on us and I agree with the fact that you can buy meaningful gifts that suit the recipient. On the other hand, we wouldn’t have enough time to buy the right gifts by the time we get to November or December. 🙂
As long as I have some candles and loved ones around, the Christmas can’t get more perfect. Gifts are great, some foods, too, and scents like cinnamon and date, but those I can do without just fine. One thing that’s important though is to wear something bit more special, so it doesn’t feel like just another weekend.
Though I “believe” in Christmas, for me and my Hub, “planning ahead” has meant booking a trip away for a few years in a row. Christmas in children’s party and since we don’t have them, well… This year is going to be very special, as we take my Dad along and we’ll go to Spain. Mom passed in Jan after spending last one in a hospital, so his holiday is going to be very different in every way.
One piece of advise of yours I do follow though, which is buying presents a year round. I have an app on my iPhone where I store the ideas as they appear and when I see something that’s on my list for a bargain, I buy it and store in a bag of gifts.
Lighting candles and having loved ones around at Christmas is great, and of course wearing something special for the day makes it better. Although I’ve not booked a trip away for a while, I would love to do so some day.
Sorry about your Mum.
Storing ideas on an app, buying gifts at a bargain and storing them in a bag of gifts is quite clever and saves so much time. I must try this next year! Enjoy your Christmas in Spain 🙂
Christmas in London is fantastic. Loved it when I lived there for 15 years. But still went to Sweden for Christmas Eve and Day to be with the family.
Good suggestions you make. For me it’s easy to have a hassle free Christmas because I don’t care about it. Even stayed in Saudi Arabia one year because it doesn’t mean anything to me. So I just relax, see the family and enjoy.
Christmas in Sweden with your family must have been amazing. Enjoy the season.