I miss Christmas. The magic, the childhood innocence, trees too big to fit in your dad’s car, carols and Christmas number ones, twinkling lights, thoughtful gifts, mistletoe kisses, cocktail sausages, roasted parsnips and Quality Street…it used to all be so exciting, so fun and so guilt free.
But as we get older, Christmas changes. Or at least our relationship with it does, especially when we become parents and the whole festive period becomes entirely about other people’s enjoyment, rather than our own. The stress, the cost, the excess, the pressure to please everybody; it can almost be too much to bear.
But help is at hand thanks to a dear old friend of mine, the brilliant Rosie Dalling – mum of three, life coach, leadership trainer and founder of Healthy Selfish – who’s on a mission to help everyone (especially us frazzled parents) re-focus on what’s truly important this festive season and learn how to love Christmas again!
To achieve this, she’s dishing out free advice, actionable tips and simple life hacks on her @healthy_selfish Instagram feed every day, to help us all get through the next few weeks of festive ‘fun’ and actually enjoy Christmas this year.
So, to kick off the official Christmas countdown, I’ve asked her to share five of her very best Christmas survival tips (all absolute crackers) on the blog today to get us all in the mood. Enjoy!
HOW TO HAVE A HEALTHY SELFISH CHRISTMAS
As a mum of three, I know the conflict between wanting to re-create a scene from an idyllic Christmas movie versus the reality of yelling at everyone to get the hell out of the kitchen.
But follow these five simple tips, tried and tested from my own experience as Mother Christmas over the past seven years, and I guarantee this Christmas will be one of your best yet!
1. Remember that you are not responsible for everyone else’s Christmas
This is a reminder that you can only do what you can do.
If you’re not Kirsty Allsop, don’t try to create twee handmade gifts.
If you are not Nigella Lawson, don’t bother making giblet gravy.
And if you are not father Christmas, don’t buy presents for every single person in your life.
Do Christmas YOUR way and everyone will love it. Even if it’s crap.
2. You do not have to go broke
Here are some cold, hard, festive facts from a recent Deloitte survey.
Over our lifetime, we spend on average £53,873 on Christmas. One in ten adults go significantly over budget, spending £848 each year on gifts alone.
It’s not surprising that 35% of adults report going into debt at Christmas.
Gifting tip: Start shopping early and give yourself plenty of time.
Do not, repeat, DO NOT do your Christmas shopping late at night, on your phone, drunk or during a marital squabble, and avoid leaving it all until Christmas Eve.
This will lead to emotional buying, guilt and impulse purchases – and that’s how you end up with an unfriendly text from your bank.
3. Give kids the gift of giving
For children, Christmas can easily become a fiesta of materialism, about nothing more than the presents they’re going to get. It’s not a stretch to admit that I’ve been tempted to put an electric fence around my tree in years gone by.
Suggest to your children they each pick one person to make a gift for.
Give them free reign: card, pens, paints, clay, sparkles, glitter to make whatever they like. Doesn’t matter if it’s just a screwed-up ball of card and glue. With kids, it really is the thought that counts.
Conspire with them, let them delight in the magic of wrapping their creation and placing it under the tree.
And watch their face when they hand it over. Pure delight.
4. How to deal with people you don’t like
You know what they say: you can pick your friends but you can’t choose your mother in law.
Here is a sneaky psychological trick to help draw out more attractive behaviour from people who really get your goat.
It’s counterintuitive but it works.
Find the thing you really dislike about that person and see it as a plus point. Tell them about it as if it is a positive and they will re-channel this behaviour in a more constructive way.
It’s akin to giving a child a star. They find it much harder to disappoint your expectations.
So for example, if someone is critical, you could say ‘can I ask your advice because you are one of those rare people who really says it like it is.’ 100% they will pick their words more carefully.
For someone who always gets way too competitive at Charades or whatever party game your family plays on Christmas Day – tell them you want to be on their team since they’re so good at winning.
And for someone who is a Brexit bore, tell them you love the way they approach a debate with such passion and gusto.
Just keep your feedback light hearted. Your aim is not to cause offense, but to encourage self-awareness and a positive atmosphere.
Finally, if someone just will not leave, a good tip is to draw their attention to the way they arrived. Has people tapping for an uber / searching for their car keys in a matter of seconds.
5. Remember how your ancestors spent Christmas
Before Christmas, we had Yule – a Celtic fire festival marking the return of light after the longest night of the year. And work was cancelled until Plough Monday – sometimes as late as 12 January.
We’ve known throughout the ages that we need to safe-guard our energy and well-being at this cold, dark time.
So my fifth and final tip for you this Christmas is to become a really nerdy accountant of your own energy, reimbursing yourself when your reserves are depleted.
Be mouthy about the fact that if you are hosting, cooking, bed-making, and spreading cheer, you will be invoicing yourself for this work and paying yourself back – plus a bonus.
See undemanding people who make you laugh, book a course in something that interests you, or just curl up on the sofa reading your book. The latter can be difficult if you have children, but consider gift-swapping this with your partner while they take the kids.
For more from Rosie, she’ll be sharing more tips like these every day leading up to Christmas on her Instagram feed @healthy_selfish – which is also, by the way, a great source for inspirational and uplifting posts about mindfulness, confidence and good mental health, so well worth a follow!