The mulled wine is flowing, the minced pies are in full supply and that all-too-familiar Michael Bublé album is serenading on repeat from your Mum’s kitchen. This can only mean one thing: the Christmas season is back with a vengeance. Whether you are a jolly-saint-Nick-on-pills-after-eight-coffees type around the holidays, or more of a Scrooge-fused-with-the-Grinch-on-the-day-Dobby-died character, there is no escaping it. All you can do is plan ahead, get everything ready and ensure you have a fully stocked bar!
In order to avoid any festive freak-outs this year, I’ve put together an essential survival guide of the dos and don’ts this season to ensure your Christmas is stress-free and enjoyable.
Embrace your inner child:
Christmas would be nothing without the kids: hyperactive, energetic and sugar-overdosed children are the true harmony of the holiday. However, they can certainly get to be a bit much – especially when the Wi-Fi won’t work, or the batteries die on their brand new toy. Make sure they have their own space away from the adults, kitted out with treats, games and movies to keep them busy and out from under your feet. But don’t avoid them all Christmas, embrace their enthusiasm and integrate your inner child. You might just find the evening to be far more fun.
Know your limits:
There is nothing worse than having to cater for the 5000 without any word of warning. It’s always advisable to plan your Christmas period ahead of time to ensure you know exactly who will be staying and when. Whether you are hosting a small get-together, or having your family and friends stay for the duration, don’t over-book yourself. That will allow you more time to make the necessary preparations, as well as giving the guests you do have the attention and quality time that they deserve.
Load up on festive cheer good and early:
Christmas is a marathon, not a sprint, and you will need to pace yourself. Consider carolling your warm-up. It is a great way to get into the festive spirit, as cheesy as it may sound. Belting out ‘Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Oh Christmas Tree’ to a bunch of strangers can be an excellent bonding experience for you and the family, as well as a witty anecdote to recount after several eggnogs on Christmas Day.
Another great way to bring the family and friends together could be to decorate the tree. Nothing says family-bonding-sesh quite like an explosion of tinsel. Make it an annual tradition, with Christmas songs playing, gingerbread cookies baking and the yearly argument over who gets to hang the star.
Get help with the cooking:
Not everyone is Nigella Lawson in the kitchen (as much as we like to pretend we are). If you consider yourself more Bridget Jones than Bree Van de Camp, there is no shame is enlisting some help. Caters such as Sweet Apple Catering can have everything delivered right to your door, ready for you to make the final touches and then enjoy with the rest of your guests. If you’d prefer to go full-service, they can also offer a waiting staff and a chef to finish the food and serve.
If you’d rather take on the challenge for yourself, make sure you get some reinforcements – assign your family and friends task, even if it is just peeling the potatoes or getting things from the fridge. Having others in the kitchen will make the task of cooking far more gratifying and pass the time much quicker.
Relax and enjoy the day:
Make sure you schedule in enough time during the day to relax and enjoy yourself. Whether that is allowing for a long soak in the tub, or a sit down with a sparkling glass of champagne, remember that this is your day too. Make the most of it.
Over-indulge on Christmas Eve:
There is nothing worse than facing a mountain of chores of Christmas Day with a pounding hangover. As tempting as that extra glass of red wine is at the office party, think of the squealing children and overpowering wafts of rich Christmas pudding the next day.
Forget to plan some games and activities:
Whether you love them or hate them, party games are what make Christmas unique. The union of family and friends over a heated game of Monopoly or charades is what keeps the festive merriment alive. Be open to suggestions and try to cater for all of your guests – especially the little ones.
Forget to document the day:
We are most definitely the technological generation; even five-year-olds have iPhones nowadays. Making your Christmas memorable is crucial, but documenting those memories is even more important. Keep a steady stream of snaps and videos coming in so that you can reminisce long after the hangovers have passed.