Halloween is almost upon us and as ever I had thought that by the end of October our house would be finished and ready for a lovely relaxing festive season. This of course has not happened, but instead of getting into a tizz about it, this time I am going to celebrate the messiness. Because strong relationships, close families and all of our unique little life bubbles are what the holidays are all about and none of them are ever neat, tidy or predictable, but neither are they boring! This post is an essay to myself on how to let go and embrace the wonderful muddle that comes with bringing the family together, without having a complete melt down!
Acceptance is the first step…
So, your Nan has decided that she only wants to spend Christmas at John O’Groats (she has a picture at the Land’s End sign and needs one at the top of the country to match), you have set the kitchen on fire two years in a row by letting the Christmas pudding boil dry and you’ve just discovered that mum accidentally ‘replaced’ all of the baking trays with miniatures because she forgot to check the Amazon description and then also forgot to replace the replacements – I almost can’t believe I am writing these, but they have all happened to me!
I am not the most organised person on the planet, or even my road, but if I were, things still have a way of going wrong anyhow. Accepting this will make everything go smoother and be especially beneficial to keeping your blood pressure down! I find it helpful to remember that these things are what you will all laugh about next year.
Plan what you can!
That all being said, there are many things that you can actually do to reduce the stress of seasonal festivities. The first being getting a serious plan together about how everything is going to run. Choose where you will be spending the festive period and stick to it, last minute plan changes can upset the older generations unless they’re absolutely necessary. This also allows the host to get organised and make sure that there are enough plates, cutlery and back up trays in case mum throws them out again.
I love this printable Christmas Planner blog that has a plan for each week leading up to Christmas to get you organised! We’re already in Week Eight now, BUT in the spirit of not freaking out we can just hop on the organising train at this stop and it will all be fine I promise. If you’re making a ring binder at home here are some of the sections you might want to include:
- Advent Calendars
- Gift List
- Christmas Cards
- Meals and Menus
- Entertainment items
Find ways to refine your budget
It is so easy to let your spending get out of hand for pretty much any holiday and especially at Christmas, which can really add to your stress levels. Last year I ended up blowing over £300 on gifts for Mike because I knew there were so many things that he wanted and needed! But it meant a tight couple of months to start 2017, which really isn’t what you want during the cold period after Christmas. This year we are setting ourselves a budget of £75 for our gifts to each other. It’s still quite a lot, but should allow us to get something special without going completely crazy!
Similarly, when it comes to family we want to spoil our loved ones, yet with new additions to our clan coming almost every year it can be overwhelming. Last year we chose to have Secret Santa gifts for the adults, which were set to a limit of £30 per person. This worked quite well, but £30 is a lot of money if you misjudge the gift! So, this year we are going to have an official wish list, on which everyone can put something that they really want. The only rule is that it must be something they wouldn’t normally splash out on for themselves – it should still be special after all!
Keep it simple (very simple)
There is a Christmas thread on MumsNet that I absolutely adore aptly named Poncetastic 2017, which is a place for all of us who love to go all out with decorations, food, gifts and anything else you can think of to share their extravagance. Here are a couple of examples of the poncery that goes on there to give you an idea of what it’s all about:
Tea Cake Poncery:
As you can see, it’s a fabulous thread and exceptionally entertaining if you have a cup of tea and 10 minutes to marvel at how involved people can get! However, this is an example to myself of a rabbit hole not to go too far down. Instead of trying to carve the New York skyline on your pumpkin, go for something simple yet effective like this awesome Pokemon stencil:
Photo by ammiesjodin on Instagram
Whether you are having friends over for a Halloween pumpkin carving session or already well into planning your Christmas festivities, I hope these tips help you as much as they do me! Just remember to accept that things will go wrong, plan what you can, and keep yourself in check when it comes to setting your budget and deciding how many homemade goods you really need!