Oh no, It is that time of year again! I could have sworn it was only last week when I put last years decorations away, but no … it is here again, the Christmas madness. This matter was brought to my attention this week when my friend Sally popped in for a chat. She stomped in to my kitchen, dropped her bag on the floor and drinking a well-earned glass of vino, burst into tears. Between the sobs I heard about the numerous pressures of her life. Buying and affording presents for numerous family members, undertaking a very demanding work project, a heavily pregnant daughter who needed help with her older children’s’ childcare, a sick mother and “poisonous” father in law, a husband who works abroad and the problem of looking after all these folk and cooking Christmas lunch when she had a business trip to Scotland the week before the dreaded day. “And” said Sally “as if that is not enough, my sister has gone off to work in an animal sanctuary looking after monkeys in Costa Rica and I have her four adult children as well! I am so, so angry and jealous”.

The wonderful thing about friends is that you can move from this sort of despair to laughter in a very short amount of time. So within an hour we were both howling with laughter and joking about what we might wear for Christmas lunch so we looked fabulous, as we cooked this, “oh so perfect” Christmas meal. My personal choice would be a reindeer onesie …. from table to bed – perfect!

Sally of course is not alone, and for busy families everywhere Christmas can soon become a real trial if we let it take its own momentum. So here are some tips to get you through this busy period with a smile on you face and cheer in your heart.

  • For all you women out there, first sort out your outfit for the day! This need not be expensive. Supermarkets have great deals and charity shops have great finds at this time of year. It will make you feel in control and you will look fab. Make sure it is easy to wear.
  • Boundaries, boundaries and boundaries! Ensure you agree when folk are coming and going and stick to it. Guests, like fish, go off, so keep it short, fun and sharp.
  • Give everyone something to bring. Christmas is an expensive time and you do not have to shoulder all the expense. Delegate!
  • Give everyone a job, even the young and old.
  • Cheat! Of course we all love to look at the wonderful cooking programmes, and we all dream about “sashaying” around our Christmas table looking seductive like Nigella, but the reality is somewhat different from TV cooking. SO cheat a little – all the supermarkets let you do this easily. Don’t let their effort be wasted! Use it and do not feel guilt. If you get compliments just smile and take it.
  • Keep it simple. It really is just a Sunday roast tarted up a bit. Do not let your thinking make it more than this!
  • Give everyone a job.
  • Plan events and games. This keeps everyone occupied and stops family arguments.
  • Do not bother with all the presents. Every year, so much is wasted, unwanted or unused and so many of us run up debt doing it – madness isn’t it? Why not do a group donation to a local charity or buy yourselves a day out with friends and family. If you must do presents, why not just do a bran tub.
  • Plan a reward day for yourself after it is all over, perhaps a walk, spa day, cinema treat or duvet day … your choice!

Have a great Christmas!

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