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.

How to bring bees back into your garden

Is your garden looking a little bereft? Is there a silence where once there may have been a healthy humming of buzzing bees? Are you struggling to produce a decent crop of vegetables? It makes sense to bring the bees back.

Bees are the bee-all and end-all of thriving gardens. If it weren’t for them, our lives would be bereft of the beautiful scents we enjoy in our lives today. These hard-working little creatures pollinate up to 80% of all flowering plants in the world, steadily buzzing from one plant to the next collecting and spreading the pollen that is essential for plant survival.

Without bees, the world would look pretty grim. In the words of Barry B. Benson from The Bee Movie:

We’re the only ones who make honey, pollinate flowers, and dress like this. If we’re going to survive as a species, this is our moment. So what do you all say? Are we going to be bees, or just Museum of Natural History key chains?

 Bees cannot become Museum of Natural History key chains. Nope. We need them, more than many people realise. Here’s how you can do your bit in bringing the bees back into your garden.

1. Give bees what they want: pollen and nectar
Like any species, bees need food to survive. If you create a garden that is full of appetising pollen and nectar, then you are more likely to attract them. And, by attracting the bees, you are more likely to have a healthy, humming garden as the bees do some of the most crucial gardening work for you.

2. Choose the plants that bees love best
Did you know that bees prefer blue, purple and yellow flowers? Some flowers are tastier than others for native bees, and some colours are more attractive. The key is to ensure a steady, year-round supply of pollen and nectar for your bees, so aim for a variety of plants that flower at different times of the year.

Some of our favourite bee-loving plants include a mass of lavender, a copse of flowering gums or hakeas, or pretty little leptospermum. Grevilleas and callistemon are classics in native gardens; and don’t forget to let a few of your herbs and vegies go to seed. Bees find their flowers delicious.

3. Steer clear of pesticides
Bug spray of any kind is going to repel or, worse, kill off the bee population in your garden. Avoid garden chemicals and insecticides if you can. Or, if you must use them, then try to steer clear of spraying near flowering plants. Get to know where your bees are buzzing, and keep these areas as spray-free as possible.

4. Give them a drink
Bees need a drink every now and then. A garden with a reliable source of water is going to be more appealing for buzzing bees than a parched one. Add a cute little bird bath with a shallow supply of water, and plenty of pebbles so that these fragile little creatures won’t drown.

There you have it. Four easy ways to encourage bees back into your garden so you can enjoy their quiet hum and the gorgeous scents they produce for many years to come.