Christmas Day survival tips


6_cover_1200x600As kids, it’s that one magical day we spend all year looking forward to. But for many adults, Christmas loses its lustre and turns into a source of stress and anxiety. The collision of scorching summer temperatures, the arrival of extended family, and perhaps one too many glasses of champagne can leave you with a festive hangover … in more ways than one.

Short of booking an overseas holiday, how does one survive the big day unscathed? Here are our top tips to enjoy the festive season.

1. Be sensible about gifts

Finances can get stretched to the limit at Christmas, particularly if you’ve got an extended family and friends you want to share the joy with. This year, set yourself sensible price limits and think about practical, useful gifts you could give instead. Set up a Secret Santa tradition with the extended family, too, so you don’t have to buy gifts for all the nieces and nephews.

2. Get outside

We’re lucky enough in the southern hemisphere to have some glorious summer weather over the festive season. If you aren’t eating your Christmas meal outside, make sure you take time to step out and enjoy the sunshine. Tempers can quickly fray and family tensions surface when the clan is cooped up around the air-conditioner. Take a walk to burn off Christmas lunch and breathe in some fresh air.

3. Share the jobs

Make sure whoever is hosting your Christmas gathering doesn’t end up saddled with all the tasks – from stuffing the turkey to baking the perfect pudding. Guests want to feel useful, so give them something to do to help the day run smoothly. Share out the meal preparation in advance, and get everyone to help with table clearing and cleaning up.

4. Limit the booze

From champagne breakfasts to brandy soaked puddings, it is easy to overindulge in alcohol on Christmas Day. It might be the great social lubricant, but we all know it does your old Uncle Arthur no favours. You’re probably not going to be able to control what everyone else drinks, but try to limit your own alcohol consumption and make sure there are non-alcoholic beverages on offer. And maybe give Uncle Arthur a wide berth…

5. Make your own traditions

Sometimes Christmas can start to feel like one long marathon social engagement, fitting in all the family lunches and dinners. It’s not always possible to do it all, and you’ll end up exhausted. Take the time to reflect on what you most love about the season and start your own traditions – perhaps a simple picnic at the beach or a rousing rendition of Christmas carols around a campfire. Whatever works for you.

(And, if the turkey’s drying in the oven and the kids are going feral in the backyard, don’t despair. Keep a soothing sniff box up your sleeve and take a few deep breaths. Christmas calm will be restored in no time.)


Gifts that make sense this Christmas

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to show someone you love them. In fact, some of the most beautiful gifts are the most simple – carefully crafted or personally chosen to show your mum, brother, niece, neighbour or BFF how you feel.

Here are some of our ideas for gorgeous, useful gifts this Christmas.

1. Candles in glass jars


Once a divinely scented candle has run its course, the glass jar that it came in can be used for all sorts of practical or crafty purposes. A mini-terrarium. A stout little vase of daisies. A drink tumbler. This versatility is one of the reasons why candles are one of the most popular gifts on the market today.

2. Herbs in a pot


Herbs smell so good when fresh! If you are giving to a keen cook, then they are sure to love a gift of fresh basil or mint in an oh-so-cute little pot. They can pop the pot on their windowsill and think of you every time they take a snip off its endlessly giving greenery.

3. A home-sewn heat pack


If you’re at all handy with a sewing machine, then a homemade heat pack makes a wonderful present for anyone likely to get muscular aches or pains. Filled with rice or wheat and covered with funky fabric, it is an inexpensive, thoughtful gift that soothes the aches away.

4. Heavenly hand creams


Gardeners, golfers, home cooks … there are so many people out there that appreciate a good hand cream to slip into their bag or beside their bed. Gorgeous hand creams don’t cost the earth – you could pair one with a beautiful hand wash for a very pretty little present to pop under the tree.

5. Homemade food

Preparing Christmas Gingerbread Cookies

There’s a tradition in our house at Christmas (don’t tell Sarah Wilson, as it’s loaded with sugar). The kids stock up on blocks of best quality chocolate and turn it (along with other goodies) into rocky road to give to friends and neighbours. It’s a fun, simple activity that we love and (we hope) our friends love too. Cooking up Christmas treats is a wonderful way to wind down after a busy year.

6. DIY voucher


Craft cute little vouchers for all manner of services – babysitting, lawnmowing, a coffee-and-cake date, a game of tennis followed by a glass of wine at a local bar … you name it. Think of what the gift recipient would really appreciate as a favour from you, or something that they would love to do with you.

If you’re still stuck for gift ideas, pop over to Oscura to get some scented inspiration.

5 tips that make scents these holidays

Scents of the holiday season can be incredibly evocative. Citronella and sunscreen take us straight to summer holidays spent by the water; while cinnamon and cloves transport us to family kitchens where delicious Christmas feasts are lovingly prepared.

Of course, every family in Australia will have its own scented memories of the holiday season. It depends very much on your family’s culture and traditions – while the redolent waft of summertime barbecues fill some people’s homes, for others the rich scents of roasted turkey and Christmas pudding pervade.

If you are looking to create new memories for your family, here are some ideas for introducing beautiful fragrances into your festive season.

1. An aromatic Christmas tree


How good does a real Christmas tree smell? There really is nothing quite like the natural, earthy pine aroma of a freshly cut tree – it fills the house with the scents of Christmas and puts everyone in a festive mood.

Or, if you don’t have the space or inclination for a real Christmas tree, you could get crafty and make a eucalyptus wreath to adorn your front door. Get your hands on some fresh cuttings of the dusty green leaves, weave them into a grapevine wreath, and enjoy the distinctive scent every time you come home.

2. Guestroom heaven


Welcome your holiday guests with a divinely scented candle in their room and a freshly washed towel on their bed. Little touches like these go a long way to making your guests feel extra special.

And don’t forget to pop a diffuser in the bathroom. It can get a little busy in the bathroom over the holidays, with so many people coming and going. Choose an aroma reminiscent of Christmas to keep the festive vibe going throughout your house.

3. Gingerbread delights

Bee on Lavender

When was the last time you baked gingerbread? This delicious festive treat is a Christmas classic! It’s heaps of fun to make and decorate with the kids, or go solo and enjoy the rich gingery scents wafting from your oven as you bake another tray.

You could wrap up cute collections of gingerbread stars or angels to give as gifts to your neighbours, or keep a fresh stash in the pantry for when guests drop around for a festive cuppa.

4. Light up the room with candles


There’s no better way to end a long day of festivities than with flickering candlelight. Choose candles with relaxing aromas and light them up to help everyone unwind after a long day of celebrating. Or go with spiced aromas to perk everyone up … with a glass of bubbles in hand, you’ll all be singing carols by candlelight well into the night.

5. Wrap it up


Add a sweet, scented touch to your Christmas wrapping. Instead of going for gaudy colours that have rolled off a production line, give your gifts a beautiful homemade touch by using recycled brown paper with your own unique touches. Eucalyptus leaves and raffia; lavender and twine; or perhaps sweet cinnamon sticks secured with string. With brown paper as your canvas, you’re only limited by your imagination!