anticipation of perfection and having to cope with an assortment of relatives that you don't get to see all that often.
My own idea of perfection would be to book into a hotel for a couple of nights, take a token gift to open on Christmas Day and spend as much time as possible walking on the beach with as many members of the family who'd also decided that this was an excellent idea. In fact, I suggested this to a few of them back in September and sadly, they were all horrified. My daughters crave the tradition of a family Christmas after their first semester at university. My grandma, at 94-years of age prefers to be wrapped up at home. My mum's all for it - but would feel guilty for leaving her mother and so the list went on. One year, I'll actually get to do this and I can't wait for that day! But for now, we're cooking Christmas dinner for seven, as well as hosting a huge family party.
And these are the tips I'll be trying to remember as the festive season approaches...
- Gift wrapping - While the kids love to open presents, for adults you can get away with burying gifts in tissue paper inside a gift bag. Unlike wrapping paper, tissue paper can be recycled and the gift bags re-used.
- Be nice or leave - It's a shame that not everyone appreciates all the hard work and effort that's gone into making Christmas a very special family time, but don't allow them to spoil the day. Have a quiet word beforehand and explain how much you value this time of year and hope that everyone's going to get along famously.
- Christmas Eve - Wear the kids out as much as possible in the hope that they'll fall asleep at a reasonable time. If they won't sleep - head off to bed anyway and set a travel alarm for 2 am and place it under your pillow. Hopefully, they'll be sleeping soundly and you can get on with the presents!
- Knocking back the wine - It's tempting to keep refilling your wine glass, especially if you're stressed. From experience I know it only makes things worse and you'll be the one hosting with a hangover! Reduce your alcohol intake by alternating alcoholic and soft drinks, or quaffing wine spritzers instead.
- Time off for good behaviour - Put so many members of a family in one room for a very long time and tempers are going to fray. Encourage everyone to venture outside for a walk after Christmas dinner to lighten the mood. And allow the children to escape from the clutches of relatives and take some time out to enjoy their gifts.
- Do something charity related - When my daughters were little we always made boxes for Operation Christmas Child. And now that the girls are older, we all volunteer for different charities. It helps to put things into perspective when you're a bit overwhelmed with everything. You could always encourage the kids to clear out their clutter and donate to charity to make extra room for all those new presents.
- More time off for good behaviour - You've wrapped, shopped, cleaned, decorated, entertained and cooked to the point of exhaustion and now you need some time off too. Feel free to escape and indulge in a cat nap, curl up with a good book, devour a stashed bar of good quality chocolate, or whatever your heart desires - you've deserve it!
- Designate a driver - Out socialising? Make sure you've decided who's driving before you arrive! Take it in turns, toss a coin, resort to bribery, or whatever - just do it! And if you're hosting a party - make sure you check who won't be drinking and offer alcohol-free options instead.
- Social calendar - Got an invite? Stick it on the calendar and be sure to share that information with everyone at home! The usual rule here - is that the first party on the calendar is the one we will attend. Although rules are made to be broken now that our daughters are nineteen and often have plans of their own! They don't appreciate not being able to spend time with friends and as long as they see all of the relatives during the holiday season that's fine.
- Having a meltdown? Repeat after me...'It's OK, I'm a grown-up, I can deal with this.' And maybe if you say it enough, you'll actually start to believe it!
Whatever you have planned for the festive season - make it a good one x
Copyright © 2013 Izzie Anderton