Make a list and check it twice
Write all Christmas related activities on a list. Write everything that needs to be done and that you want to get done. Include appointments, parties and also anything that needs to be done for the beginning of the year; if you were planning a trip in the spring booking the flights and hotel should probably be on your list.
Do this based on the terrible consequences of not doing something and how much you really, really want to do something. If you don’t care about the tree and it’s all about the dinner, menu planning and shopping comes first. If you don’t care about the dinner or the tree and want to leave the country as soon as possible, booking flights and packing should be top of the list.
Be harsh and real about this; if anything drops of the bottom of the list will you cry? The only tears we want at Christmas are tears of joy or indigestion.
It is the advent of your tasks.
Print out a calendar from your computer or draw one on a piece of paper with a pencil. Allocate a time for all your most important Christmas tasks. Again, be harsh and real about this. If you will be screaming with exhaustion by 10pm (like I am) don’t plan too much for an evening.
My top tip is – leave some time free. Only allocate your top priorities as the rest will fall into place or won’t happen (and no-one will care). For example, when we decorated the tree we wrote a list of things we needed including 3 extension leads. One week later we can’t remember why we need the extension leads. Everything works. I guess we don’t need them, thereby saving some money and time spent on looking for extension leads.
Do what is on your list at the times allocated on your calendar. I know; rocket science.
For the other less pressing tasks, just take a little look at the list now and then. If you are watching Christmas cooking shows maybe you fancy writing some cards while you do it. Maybe you pick up those batteries when you are shopping for chocolate during a lunch break. Stuff will get done and if it doesn’t so what? Nobody gets maimed.
In an ideal world…
Start shopping and card writing in November or even October. I know loads of organised people already do this. Good for them!
It’s all yours
The 24th, 25th and 26th are your days. If you want to turn your house into a winter wonderland for a party with multiple trees and an elf-themed dress code then go for it and please send me an invite.
If you want to sit home alone, drinking rum and cola, eating crisps in front of a massive TV hey you do just that.
No matter what you do people will probably judge and disparage you (or respect and admire you) so just do what you want and be happy!
It’s (not quite) all yours
That annoying aunt, those only just bearable in-laws and the devilish step-children all deserve a bit of your time. Just go round, listen to the complaints, fights, [insert relevant irritation here] and do your best not to kill anyone. Sometime you have to do your duty and when you get home you can drink as much rum and cola as you want. Your visit probably means a lot more to them than you think. It probably means more than they think. But it does mean something.
Make or buy
In an ideal world I would be hand making Christmas cards and cooking edible gifts. I would be hand printing wrapping paper and making stencils for snowing the windows like I did when I was younger. If I was given something handmade I would be thrilled, but I also realise some people are a little afraid of the handmade, especially food. But really it doesn’t matter one bit. I am thrilled with everything and if making stuff is more fun I say make. If shopping is your best hobby – go shop (and pick up some stuff for me while you are there?)
Time or money
In these times (or any times) time is precious and money is scarce. Dispense with gifts and give your time and attention. It should be more than enough. Experiences can mean more than stuff so a gift of a lunch together at home or a long walk in the hills can be more memorable than anything else.
I don’t have any so I am no expert but what I do know is this: When we were kids we helped with everything. Decorating the tree, making cookies, making paper chains and Christmas cards and we always got a new board game under the tree (Nessie Hunt – awesome).
A fascist Christmas tree with all baubles equally spaced and matching in colour with contrasting tones and textures can be stunning I agree. But… why not let the kids help? Stuff will get broken but what do you care about more? The baubles? This also applies to partners, relatives or anyone lacking in coordination or creative flair.
Of course there is always a compromise; keep the tree fascist but they can go crazy making inappropriately shaped Christmas cookies. The point is: join in.
Don’t do it
Like marriage and gardening, Christmas is not for everyone. If you want to check out of the whole thing please do. I ask Christmas lovers and haters not to preach either state of mind. No-one is right because we are all right.
Whatever you do, I wish you a very happy, healthy, safe and satisfying festive period. Now I’m off out to buy some more rum.
Co-founder, The Clean Sheet