This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
1. BEAT THE SYSTEM Go to the supermarket as early as you can bear to fling off the duvet – that way you will have a chance of doing your festive shop in under four hours. Cheat – buy brandy butter, ready made stuffing, Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshires – no-one will be sober enough to notice on the 25th. While you are there, buy a few glass jars of fruit, Italian boxed cakes and chocolates as an emergency supply to save you from embarrassment if someone arrives unexpectedly with a pressie for you.
2. DON’T EXPECT TOO MUCH Just have fun. Don’t beat yourself up expecting to have a perfect Christmas. And remember, that turkey/goose/beef/gammon – it’s just a normal Sunday lunch on a slightly bigger scale. Probably best not to try and compete with the countless celebrity chefs you have been watching on TV during December. Or easier still, book a table for Xmas lunch at a local restaurant instead.
3. TRY AND REMEMBER WHAT CHRISTMAS IS REALLY ABOUT Even if the vicar is astounded to see you just once a year, think about going to Midnight Mass or a carol service or starting Christmas Day by going to Holy Communion. Better still, do something for others like inviting a friend you know would otherwise be alone to share your day. Or helping out at a soup kitchen. Or donating a few pounds to a charity that will provide a gift for a child who otherwise wouldn’t get one or a bed for the night for a homeless person.
4. DISCONNECT Turn off the TV, tablet, mobile and laptop. Just for the day. You can do it.
5. BE TOLERANT Take a deep breath, bring out the photo albums and board games and share common ground with your family. If it all gets too much, try to see the good in your (irritating) family members – and then vent your spleen on your blog on Boxing Day. If your family are really driving you nuts, try and find a few minutes to yourself while the family are staying – perhaps by going to bed earlier than everyone else or getting up later. Or invite a new friend over – that will keep everyone else on their best behaviour!
6. SHARE THE WORK Instead of sweating buckets doing absolutely everything yourself, accept when people come into the kitchen asking if they can do anything to help. Sharing can be great fun. Christmas is for you as well.
7. IF YOU ARE SEPARATED Best not to compete with your children’s other parent when it comes to presents – what kids need more than anything is free and it’s called love and cuddles.
8. EVERYTHING IN MODERATION What a wise adage! Even though it’s tempting to eat and drink to excess, might be wise to say “no” to that fifth slice of Christmas pud and try to alternate every glass of booze with a soft drink. And if you find yourself waking up after a quick snooze on the sofa, get up and drink plenty of water to alleviate what may well turn out to be a hangover.
9. WHEN YOU WAKE UP ON BOXING DAY Think about putting on a coat, scarf and an extra pair of socks and taking the dog for a walk in the fresh air. Getting active will make you feel better and less guilty about all those potatoes roasted in goose fat that you munched on yesterday.
10. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR HOLIDAY Renew your energy by taking time to rest, picking up that paperback/Kindle you’ve been meaning to read, or simply having a long hot soak in the bath surrounded by candles and with a glass of something chilled in your hand.