It is all too easy to get to the end of the year, and realise that the festive period, and Christmas Day in particular, is approaching at a particularly rapid rate.
This time of year can feel overwhelming and being disorganised can add to the feeling of stress and pressure that presents itself.
Being able to take a breath, especially at the end of a year when the days seem short and the night long, is important to a person’s mental health.
Visuals and lists can make all the tasks and commitments somewhat more manageable and a timeline of events can break things down into more workable bite-sized pieces.
Ordering the main Christmas Day food (turkey or alternative) in good time is the best way to start. Visiting the preferred local butcher or placing an order online, wherever the ‘go-to’ place is for a Christmas feast, working out what is needed and how you are going to store it (which will determine when you pick it up) can sometimes be a daunting task in itself.
Similarly, making a start on the food shopping list now will make things easier when things become busier (when something comes to mind, adding it to the list which might be added to a phone) will allow it not to fester.
Going a step further and stocking up on non-perishable items: wine or other drinks, nuts, chocolates and all the other things that makes Christmas the traditional affair that is often remembered, decreases the pressure and mitigates frustration when the shops get busier with frantic people in a feeding like frenzy to get what is needed.
For those with younger people in the household, checking out where the grotto is being held or if a trip to the panto is on the cards, these things that should be considered early on. No child really wants to visit Father Christmas too early and so getting the slot that is preferable can be planned for and well anticipated. The ice skating sessions in and around the areas also often get booked up early and so planning for a ‘day out’ to incorporate a skating session can get everyone interested in the festivities, along with finding out where the Christmas lights are being turned on so that bookings can be made now if not already done.
There is something special about hearing festive music to feel reminiscent. Passing by The Salvation Army band brings a sense of nostalgia that is likely to bring memories of a person or a moment in time to the forefront of anyone’s mind.
It is important to take some time out to recall what people have ‘wished for’ in the past few months. This can form ideas for presents so that any last minute trips can be avoided. One thing to remember is to keep a note of what has been bought and for whom so that it can be tracked.
Taking this time out might be in the form of baking Christmas goodies, settling in for the evening with an open lit fire watching a Christmas film or even taking a non-Christmas approach on something relaxing like reading or taking a bath.
With all the events coming in thick and fast, keeping up-to-date with messages from school, work and clubs can be tricky, however, diarising anything that comes through straight away, even if something isn’t dealt with immediately, allows the task to be noted down or diarised in a calendar so that it won’t be forgotten.
Managing the never ending list of things to do is key to feeling in control. Filling time effectively so that harassment doesn’t set in is vital to feeling on top of what is going on. Sewing a donkey costume the morning of the Nativity play is not going to be a contributor to a positive mindset but completing a handful of Christmas cards while the oven is warming up will provide a sense of achievement with little energy involved.
Starting the shopping early will be a cause of celebration! Some presents might have even been purchased throughout the latter months of the year if something particular has been seen that would be prefect for someone in mind. There might be discounts nearer Christmas and it is worthwhile weighing any financial savings that could be made up with the sheer volume of people shopping to save their money as well. Wrapping paper, Christmas cards, Sellotape can be bought as and when visiting town so that feeling organised becomes a reality.
There isn’t much better getting into the Christmas spirit by wandering around a Christmas market, sipping a glass of mulled wine (or the equivalent) and dodging the hustle and bustle in the hope of a snowflake or two to bring the ambience to life.
‘Pacing’ becomes more notable as age creeps in and by attending the events that are genuinely of interest (that might be work related, club related, personal or social) can help keep energy levels higher towards the end of the year.
If it is a ‘real’ Christmas tree that is opted for, it is likely the annual ‘pilgrimage’ to get it will be made on a certain weekend. It can be a well anticipated event that all family members are expected to be a part of and so having it diarised and understood by all might make it easier for all family members to get on board with.
Once the Christmas tree arrives and it is safely in situ for the next few weeks, the decorating can commence! The tree may not be ‘exactly’ what was pictured if it is adorned with garish baubles that little people’s hands have got hold of but the house is likely to look awesome with the creative flair that the resident designer has put into effect.
Considering the time that is booked off work during the festive period in order to manage the workload will make the run up to the ‘close down’ much easier. Starting now so that the ‘out of office’ can be put on in the knowledge that everything is under control and things can be left until the new year is the aim so that, on the return to work, it is less daunting.
There is something about television during the festive period. Love it or loathe it Christmas really is often the topic that surpasses discussion about the weather at this time of year unless, of course, the talk is of snow!
Lists, calendars, phone notes and all the other aide memoirs that are valuable does not mean that the timings on the turkey in the oven won’t go awry (a list of timings of exactly what goes in and when with alarms on the phone can mitigate this risk) or that the present that was so carefully planned for a loved one is an exact duplicate of what they have already unwrapped (good job the receipt was kept).
It is often the case that such an anticipated event can be an anti-climax if things don’t go according to plan, however, if it important to remember that Christmas Day is just one day in the year and it passes as quickly as it crept up.
Putting it into perspective and truly remembering what is important is a great way to feel more calm, less stressed and overwhelmed and more enthusiastic to get the important things right.
“Whatever lands on your plate leading up to and during the festive period, may I wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2024.” – Best wishes from Anna