According to the classic Christmas song It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, but the countdown to the 25th of December is also the most stressful. It’s a quadruple whammy of end-of-year work deadlines, school holidays, and manic social commitments all gift-wrapped around the 101 pressing demands of organising a memorable family celebration.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little clever planning, and the right state of mind, it is possible to take the stress out of the season of goodwill. Follow our ten Christmas tips and you’ll be left as chill as your glass of festive bubbles!
1 Fake it!
A real tree smells nicer than a plastic one, and is more environmentally friendly – helping to reduce Christmas’ giant carbon footprint – but they are a lot of work. There are the fallen needles, the watering, the bugs that crawl out of the branches. Then you have to dispose of it, once it’s bald and brown. A quality fake tree looks better than the real thing and can be used year after year. Don’t waste time decorating it yourself, either. Get the kids to do it. Yes, it’ll look like an explosion in a tinsel factory, but they’ll love doing it.
2 Make like a squirrel
One of the biggest seasonal stresses is money: how to pay for all the giving, sharing and merrymaking. If you set a budget at the beginning of the year and put money aside into a separate savings account, come December you’ll be able to splash out without worrying about a New Year debt hangover.
3 Shop on line …
Online equals streamline when it comes to shopping for gifts. It’s a no-brainer to avoid the shops and malls whenever possible at this time of year. On-line shopping is stress-free and many sites offer a gift-wrapping service. Buy all your purchases in one hit and be prepared for an onslaught of couriers. There’s nothing more frustrating than popping out for 5 minutes and missing the delivery driver.
4 … or shop at dawn …
Okay, dawn is a bit of an exaggeration, but if you are going bricks-and-mortar shopping get it over and done with in one well-planned hit. Go early in the morning, and don’t leave it until the last week before Christmas. Plan to be leaving the shopping centre’s carpark just as everybody else starts arriving. And don’t forget your wallet!
5 … or don’t shop at all
Think before you spend. Do you need to get gifts for everybody? As our families and circles of friends expand, it’s easy to keep adding names to our Christmas lists. But drawing a line on that list can save a lot of bother and expense. Do you really need to buy a gift for each of your cousin’s kids or work colleagues? If it makes you feel too much like Scrooge McDuck, just give a sum to charity instead, and let those dropped off your present list share in the good vibes.
6 Food kit yourself out …
The popularity of meal-delivery kits has skyrocketed over recent years, and with good reason, as they’re an economical way to take some of the time and stress out of cooking. All of the biggest food kit companies offer Xmas menus, and many supermarkets sell pre-prepared Christmas fare, too. So why spend all Christmas Day in the kitchen, when you could be spending it with your guests?
7 … or just thrill with a grill
Take all of the hassle out of your Christmas Day menu by keeping it deliciously simple. Weather permitting, move your meal outside and stick to a traditional Kiwi BBQ. Get your guests to chip in by bringing a side, use disposable plates and cutlery and your Chrissie present to yourself will be a worry-free day of celebrations.
8 Join the club
One of the biggest expenses at Christmas is alcohol, especially if you’re hosting a number of guests.
Joining a wine club is a good way to keep the vino flowing on a budget. Most have introductory offers for new members, good-value festive selections and deliver straight to your door. Another plus is they usually feature an interesting mix of international wines, so you can pretend you’re a bit of a wine buff too!
9 Focus on what’s important
Don’t overburden yourself with expectation. At Christmas, family is to the fore, not the expense, size or intricacy of festivities. Don’t set yourself overambitious goals, and if things don’t go to plan, just adapt and go with the flow.
10 Netflix and chill!
On Christmas Day, streaming services are your best friends. A seasonal playlist is the perfect accompaniment to slices of ham and platefuls of pav and, once you’re stuffed to the gills and the kids are past tired, a family movie on Netflix or Disney+ is the perfect way to unwind. Happy Christmas!