Lifestyle, Minimalism

Christmas: Surviving the Festive Season!

christmas-surviving-the-festive-season

Ahh the festive season is upon us, ’tis the season to be… completely overwhelmed with buying and receiving presents, a full calendar, hectic car parks and shopping centres, and last-minute Christmas errands to run! AM I RIGHT?

Well let me tell you, it doesn’t HAVE to be that way! In fact, you can choose to have a completely relaxing and enjoyable Christmas! Here are a few tips and tricks to help you tackle setting intentions, buying and receiving presents, the lead up to Christmas, social events, and the BIG DAY!

Set your Intentions

I truly believe in the power of manifestations, and that you attract everything that comes into you life – good or bad. It is really important to set your intentions before heading into a new season. Think about how you want Christmas and the lead up to look for you. If you’re expecting it to be busy, overwhelming and stressful, chance are it will be! If you go into it feeling relaxed, plan for what you can, roll with the rest, and be present, Christmas will be fun for you.

Sit down and write out what Christmas will be like for you and your family. Do you want a busy day fill of food, booze, seeing as many people as you can, and lots of presents? Or are you happy with a simple meal and spending time with family or friends at your own house?

Your manifestation could be as simple as one sentence “Christmas this year is going to be a time of fun and joy for our family, our hearts will be full of love and we will be bursting with happiness over the season.” Or you could go as far as to map out your entire day/weeks, and manifest specifically what it is that you want. For example “We wake up early on Christmas morning, the kids are full of excitement to open their presents under the tree and spend the day with our families. We eat a beautiful, nourishing breakfast and enjoy each others company… the car ride to Nanna’s house is full of fun as we sing carols together… the kids go to bed easily and peacefully, content from spending a day with their loved ones” etc etc. It sounds a bit woo woo, but the power of manifestation really is magic! So set your intentions, read/say them to yourself during the lead up to Christmas, and on the day, and really believe it!

The Lead Up

Budget:

Christmas can be really expensive if you go over the top, and spending a lot of money is stressful for most families. Set yourself a budget and stick to it! Christmas is a time for spending with loved ones, and presents really are a novelty on top of that. The expectations of always buying bigger and better presents are set far to high! Children especially only expect lots of gifts from learnt behaviours. Show your children that Christmas isn’t about receiving lots of toys, but instead about giving time and love to other people. Christmas can be about setting up the tree, going to carols, seeing Christmas lights, a new set of pyjamas, or a new book. It can mean as much or as little, or be as materialistic or not for children as YOU decide to make it. Don’t worry about what everyone else is getting for Christmas, or what people are posting about on social media. Love and time really are the most important things you can give, and that can only be felt in real life, not shown on a social media platform.

The Big Clean out:

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, make sure you do a big clean out of the clutter in your house! Go through the kids toys, your toiletries, fridge and pantry etc. and get rid of everything that doesn’t need to be there to make room for all of the new stuff you’ll receive over Christmas. De-cluttering before Christmas serves many purposes; if you’re selling things you can accrue extra cash to spend on presents or food, and donating unwanted items is always rewarding and is especially important to do at a time of year where people can be going without.

Toys: I know it may be quicker to clean out the kids toys without them there, but I think its important that children learn the art of minimising at an early age, and also see the importance of giving to those who are less fortunate. Separate the toys into piles; BIN, DONATE, KEEP. Talk to your kids about how other children don’t have as much as they do, and how happy their donated toys will make them on Christmas Day, and how lucky their toys will be to go to a new home where they will be played with again!

Toiletries: Last year I came across a beautiful cause called It’s In The Bag – Share the Dignity. They provide pads, tampons, toiletries and every day luxuries to women living in homelessness or poverty. I went through my bathroom drawers and found heaps of unused body washes, packets of tampons and pads, testers of lotions, face masks etc that I had collected over the years. I was able to put together a few bags and donate them at a local store. Charlie helped me pack the bags, and whilst she was still a little too young to understand the concept, it was nice that she was able to be involved. The collection points for Share the Dignity have closed for this year, but if you call a few local women’s shelters I’m sure they would take the bags.

Fridge and pantry: Make sure that the week before Christmas you go through your fridge and pantry and make room for all of the food on the day (if you’re hosting) or eat down your fresh produce so nothing goes to waste over the holidays if you’re eating out a lot. Throw out everything that’s expired, bring the things that can be used to the front so they’re in clear view, and put together a pack to donate any items like pasta, canned goods, unopened spices, oils, rice etc to Christmas hampers!

Presents:

In an ideal world, you would have done exactly what you intended to after the stress of Christmas last year, and bought presents all throughout the year for your loved ones. But chances are that you’ve left it last minute, and you now have about two weeks to buy every man and his dog a present. Cue a mad dash to the shops where you drive around cursing the car park for an hour, and then spend the next 3 hours having your ankles being rammed into by other people’s trolleys. NIGHTMARE! Let’s put together a plan so that you’re prepared to buy presents, and you know exactly what it is you want to get and where you need to get them from.

How to GIFT at Christmas:

  1. Make a list of everyone you need to buy a present for, and be ruthless! You really don’t have to buy for everyone. Your kids teachers don’t need gifts at the end of the year, and a heartfelt letter telling them about the positive impact they’ve had on your child’s life that school year will be more meaningful than another box of chocolates.
  2. See if you can organise a Secret Santa in any groups that you have, i.e. your extended family, or a group of girlfriends. This will automatically cut your list down, as you’ll only have one person to buy for in the whole group! There are even apps and websites that will organise it all for you.
  3. ASK people what they want/need! Isn’t it so much nicer to actually receive something you wanted, or something you’ll use, rather than a well-meaning gift that you could really do without? Ask what people want or need, and actually get them that. You don’t need to get them a surprise gift for the day either.
  4. Give presence, not presents. You know what your Grandma would REALLY love for Christmas? TIME! Make up a cute voucher booklet which she can use to request coffee dates with you throughout the year. If you’re buying for kids, get them a zoo pass, or a trip to the aquarium. They’re the memories that children will love and remember, not some plastic toy which will be forgotten about in a matter of months.
  5. See what you can buy online with express shipping, to avoid the shopping centres all together!
  6. Call ahead to stores to see if what you want is in stock, and ask them if they can set it aside for you to save you from making the effort of going to the shops, and ending up disappointed.
  7. If wrapping isn’t your thing, invest in some brown paper bags and an olive branch. You can write the recipient’s name on the bag, and sticky tape a spring of olive leaves to the front. Simple, cheap, yet festive and aesthetically pleasing.
  8. Don’t worry about cards, unless you know its someone who will really cherish and keep it. They’re a nice gesture, but often end up being hoarded because people feel guilty throwing them away, or they go straight to the bin – a bit wasteful if you ask me!

How to RECEIVE at Christmas:

  1. Sit down and think really hard of things that you want or need. It could be as simple as you’ve run out of your expensive skin care, or you would love a cleaner to come in and clean your windows, or a car detail! Then, let your family and friends know! Most people will appreciate some guidance as it saves them having to come up with something on their own.
  2. Be gracious when it comes to unwanted gifts, and appreciative that someone thought of you and went out of their way to get you something. But then once the day is over, donate, re-gift or sell it. It may seem ungrateful to do so, but its a lot better for your mental clarity to clear it than to add unwanted clutter to your life.

Social events:

This time of year is always especially packed with social events, as everyone loves to take the opportunity to get together and celebrate. This is where you need to practice saying a nice, firm NO to occasions that won’t serve you, so that you can say YES to the events that you will really enjoy! You can try to do it all, and if you get through that and don’t burn out at the end, you’re a superstar! But I know for those of us who have kids especially, it can be really exhausting. Saying a polite “no” to events that you don’t really want to go to, means that you’re able to commit to those that you do what to attend, and enjoy them fully without being exhausted!

On Christmas Day

Family first:

The very first thing you need to do on Christmas Day, is take a quiet moment with your family. It’s important to set boundaries and enjoy some time with your immediate family to start the day, whether its opening a few presents, or a small breakfast together. Don’t commit to being anywhere too early, stand firm with well-meaning family members who may want to pop over at the crack of dawn, and take a moment to relish in the gratitude you have for your family and the memories you’re going to make throughout the day.

To host, or not to host:

There are pros and cons for whether to not you should host Christmas at your house, and it’s something that you definitely need to take into consideration! This year we’ve chosen to host Christmas at ours, as our house is already set up for the kids, and they’re at an age where getting them in and out of hot cars all day just won’t be enjoyable. But that then leaves me with the responsibility of organising everything for the day, and dealing with the clean up. Here is some guidance to help you with which ever decision you make:

If you’re hosting:

  1. Ask everyone to bring something to contribute to the day. Whether its food, drinks, ice, plates etc. Delegate as much as you can to ease the pressure off yourself.
  2. Use paper plates, cups, plastic cutlery etc to make clean up easy. I’m always one to minimise waste, but on Christmas Day convenience takes precedence, and being able to bin everything is a lot easier than doing endless dishes.
  3. Don’t overdo the food! Last year we did DIY sandwiches, and it was super easy and delicious! We got a few loaves of bread, some cold meats and salads – sliced everything up onto a big platter and everyone made their own lunch. Never underestimate the power of a good sambo!
  4. Make sure you’re stocked up on toilet paper, nothing worse than having to dash to the shops on the day because you’re run out.

If you’re travelling around:

  1.  Plan your day. Let people know when to expect you, and whether to cater for you.
  2. Prepare the night before. Set out clothes for the day, presents that you need to take with you, organise food etc so that it isn’t a rush to get out of the house on Christmas morning.
  3. Be realistic with timing, and don’t over commit. Make sure you factor in your kids naps, whether you pop home for a few house, time a long drive so they sleep in the car, or have a space for them to sleep at a family members house. Your long day will be a lot more enjoyable if you prioritise nap time!
  4. Offer your help to the host! Whether its bringing something on the day, or taking the initiative to get out a bin bag and throw away all the wrapping paper, every effort helps to take some stress off the host.
  5. Drive safe.

Seeing the whole family:

A lot of people struggle with getting around to seeing everyone on Christmas day, and feeling like they need to please everyone. When you factor in in-laws, grandparents, extended family, step families etc. it can be a lot of places to go and people to see. A handy tip is to take advantage of the whole festive period – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. It shouldn’t matter when you see your family, rather that you’ve got to see them at all. You have the power to set new traditions, like having a big gathering at the in-laws on Boxing Day rather that Christmas Day. My Mum’s side of the family all get together a few weeks before Xmas, and it always works for everyone. If it stresses you out driving to 5 different houses on Christmas Day, cut back and set boundaries.

~

Alright! I think I’ve covered almost everything for the Christmas Season, and if I’ve left anything off people feel free to contact me either in the comments, via Instagram, or by email! I hope you have a magical festive season, a relaxing month, and a joyful Christmas Day!

Typography credit: The Girl Creative

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