Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year; the whole family getting together under one roof, sharing impeccably-wrapped gifts and tucking into a huge, piping-hot roast dinner.
It’s easy to underestimate the level of planning and preparation that goes into creating the type of Christmas Day we’ve only ever seen in movies. In reality, the turkey’s gone cold before it’s hit the table, kids are squabbling over sweets and the dog’s run off with half of the presents.
It’s important to remember the festive season is for celebrating and relaxing so we’ve put together some tips to help make Christmas less stressful and more magical.
1. Prepare Christmas lunch in advance
Christmas lunch is often the main event of the festive season. But it needn’t be an added pressure.
Christmas favourites, including pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, gravy and stuffing can all be made well in advance. Some of them can be prepared weeks ahead of time, if you have space in the freezer to store them.
Be sure to plan your timings and write them all out, if it helps. Also, make sure you have all of the kitchen kit and ingredients you need to avoid any last-minute trips to the shops.
2. Stock up on wrapping supplies
Make sure to stock up on paper, sellotape and any other gift wrapping supplies ahead of time to avoid running out. If you have any leftovers after wrapping all your presents, you can always use them next year.
It’s worth considering some eco-friendly options that can also save you some money, such as recycled wrapping paper or some spare fabric.
3. Set realistic expectations
Whether its decorations, gifts or festive food, Christmas needn’t be absolutely perfect.
Don’t give yourself too much to do. It can help to write a to-do list and prioritise your Christmas jobs. You can involve your family with the planning, too. For example, asking for help with writing Christmas cards or setting the dinner table may save you some time.
4. Keep an eye on your spending
You won’t enjoy Christmas if you’re constantly worrying that you’ve spent too much money. So set a budget and stick to it
More thoughtful gifts can often be the most appreciated. How about giving something home-made or make a pledge to do something nice with your loved ones, such as a day out for just the two of you, after Christmas.
5. Keep your pets happy
If you have pets, remember they might not all be comfortable with the excitement and noise of Christmas celebrations. Make sure they have a warm, quiet space to retreat to, and keep dogs well exercised.
6. Make sure your car is winter-ready
The last thing you want at Christmas is to have problems with your car – especially if you have trips to make to deliver gifts and see family.
With a few quick checks, you can prepare your car for the winter weather and reduce the chances of a roadside breakdown. See our run-down of essential winter car maintenance steps, including easy steps like topping up on antifreeze and checking your tyres.
7. Take breaks
Frequent breaks are important for everyone. Be sure to keep up that routine during Christmas. Even if that’s just sitting down for five minutes with a cuppa, wrapping up for a nice winter walk, or watching some good Christmas telly.
You’ll feel better for it, and it could give you a little boost to get back to your Christmas prep.