As we draw closer to the end of 2016 it's time to prepare for Christmas and reflect on the past year. Now is the time for planning, for friends and family to come together and enjoy the seasonal festivities. Although it can be a stressful time if you are doing most of the organising which can take the joy out of the event. But with a bit of forward planning you will be able to cope with the extra pressure, it needn't be such a chore and you can still enjoy the festivities.
So what can you do differently this year? For a start, don't try and do everything yourself, delegate, put your trust in others and let them take some responsibility. Discuss the plans with your family and friends and get them all on board. Make a list so everyone can have a job, however small – it will help. Have a fun forfeit for anyone who doesn’t stick to it
Think about anything that may have caused you stress or upset in previous years, what you can do to prevent similar things happening again?
Where are you going to spend Christmas? Why don’t you have a break and spend it at someone else’s house, you can still help out and it will be far less pressure on you. Remember Christmas is about people enjoying themselves which doesn't depend on how amazing the hospitality is. The most memorable times are usually those when things don't go according to plan and ones to laugh about in later years.
If you're going to be in charge of the 'shopping' pre-order fresh food and buy non-perishable items and drink in advance. It will be less stressful if you avoid leaving it all to Christmas Eve! Remember, there are some good bargains to be had if you buy early - don’t risk those ‘all important’ items selling out!
Buy and organise your presents now, don't wait and leave it too late or you will be stressed if you can't find or decide on what you want to give. You may not get what you're looking for or it could be out of stock! You need to have this all done at least a week before Christmas and make sure you keep the receipts.
Are the decorations out of the loft / cupboard? No? Well now’s the time to decorate the house. If this is your job, put on some Christmas music to get you in the mood and untangle those lights. Ask someone to help you, it will be more fun.
One of the most stressful things can be worrying about the costs of everything and how much you will need to spend. Not just for presents, you need to work out a budget for everything, food, drink, travelling or you will find yourself in debt in January which isn't a great way to start off the New Year.
So make a promise to yourself not to let this happen. Set yourself a budget and stick to it. Don't allow yourself to get sucked into Christmas consumerism with all the advertising and marketing at this time of year. The most thoughtful and appreciated presents don't need to be the most costly ones, they can be a hand-made gift, a promise of a kindly deed or time spent together doing something you enjoy. Don’t spend too much time looking for the ultimate present, which can easily be exchanged, most people are just grateful for the thought.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to deliver the perfect Christmas, remember its each person’s own responsibility to have a good time, regardless of how much effort you make. Don't invite more people round than you can reasonably cater for or socialise with. Or that casual invitation to the neighbours could end up with a house full of people you don't really know very well.
Remember the budget and don't get carried out by pre-Christmas sales and offers, only buy as much as you need to. Keep that list with you all the time and stick to it.
There's never a more likely time for family squabbles than at Christmas when people who may not see each other often are in close proximity. After a few drinks and some light hearted banter, situations can soon erupt into arguments and misunderstandings can occur. Get someone to step in quickly and calm things down - a fun game like charades can help to diffuse the situation. It will soon have everyone laughing and having a good time again. Try to remember that you may not see each other for a long while and to make the most of it. Create some good memories, not bad ones!
ON THE DAY
When Christmas Day is finally here, put on some uplifting Christmas music and take a calm approach. If children are around you and getting over excited, give them some small tasks to do or get someone to supervise some games.
If you're doing the cooking, allow yourself plenty of time and try to keep a people free kitchen if you find it easier to work alone but make sure someone is nearby to help if you need them. Don’t allow anyone to clutter up your work surfaces and delegate the simpler tasks - greeting guests, table laying, drink pouring, tidying up, clearing dishes and most definitely the washing up!
Don't forget the important fun things that make the day special – crackers, novelty games, secret Santa, playing charades and some family board games that the children can join in. If things don't go exactly to plan or as well as you would have expected, remind yourself that it really doesn't matter and to see the funny side of it. The only thing that is important is that you are surrounded by the people you love and care about.
But maybe you're spending Christmas alone this year? You may think you have no choice other than to stay at home in front of the TV with a dinner for one, but you DO have a choice. Try some voluntary work which can be very rewarding, you will truly be ‘giving’ in the spirit of Christmas, while surrounding yourself with other volunteers and people less fortunate than yourself'
Or is your partner spending the festive period with their family? This can be difficult and you may feel excluded, but remember it’s a very short time so try not to be resentful, and pamper yourself to feel in good shape for when they return.
If you’re bereaved, try not to dwell too much on your loss at this time, if this is your first Christmas without your partner or close family member, it may be difficult but try to focus on happy memories and be thankful for the good times you spent together. It may help you to attend a church service, even if you're not religious. Churches can be a special place to feel connected with your loved ones at Christmas.
IT'S ALL IN THE STARS
From 19th December until 8th January the Universe will be entering Mercury Retrograde which you may not be familiar with, but it can cause a period of uncertainty. The best laid plans can go wrong, so just remember some things will be completely out of your control. Allow extra time for travel and don't be too hard on yourself if things go wrong. Although it's an excellent time to reflect on the past and our intuition is very high during this time. So make sure you act on this intuition and you won't go wrong to ensure a memorable time.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Finally, bear in mind that Christmas is only for a few days, so keep calm and ENJOY yourself! And don’t forget - if things really get too hectic, TheCircle’s experienced, sympathetic Readers are available 24/7, even on Christmas Day to help you make the most of the festive season.
PUBLISHED: 27 November 2016