As 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.)