Perhaps the most important thing we can remind ourselves is to take a step back and enjoy all the little moments of connection and wonder that pass us by when we’re on the treadmill of perfection. Here are our top 22 tips to make the most of your family’s festive season:
1) Do the things you love
When you think about Christmas, what springs to mind? Relaxing by the fire with your nearest and dearest? Playing board games? Eating delicious food? Taking a brisk Boxing Day walk? Write a list of the key activities that really resonate and make them your focus, rather than the little stressy things that take us away from our heart centre.
2) Visualise your perfect Christmas
Spend time in the run up imagining how you’d like the day to go. Perhaps you have relatives you find it more challenging to be around, or a long tiring drive. Shift your perspective and imagine these things going really well. It’s surprising what an ‘attitudinal shift’ can bring about.
3) Support your liver
If you know you’re going to over-indulge, make sure your liver feels loved and supported! Dose up with some milk thistle and make sure you’re in bed by 3am, the time when the liver is doing its cleansing.
4) Stay in the moment
When you’re rushing from one event to the next, juggling a pile of home-baked cakes for the school fete, it’s all too easy to slip into the mode of ‘what’s next?’ Instead, imagine you are a camera capturing these memorable moments and stop, take a breath and enjoy them.
5) Avoid the shops
There’s nothing quite like a noisy, queue-ridden shop to bring out the very worst in people, especially when you’ve got hungry, tired kids in tow. Avoid the shops altogether by buying online (find gifts, dolls prams and baby accessories and at “prams.net”:http://www.prams.net) or making your own cards and gifts.
6) Buy local
However, it’s worth remembering that your local shops depend on this time of year to flourish. If you want to do a spot of Christmas shopping, head to your local, independent shops. You’ll get the chance to browse at a leisurely pace and get to know your local shop-keepers too. They usually have time to give you great advice.
7) Practise ‘chifting’
Or buying your Christmas and birthday presents from charity shops. It’s always a wonderful delight to find the perfect gift in a charity shop and you get the added benefit of knowing your cash is supporting a worthy cause. I just got my mother-in-law three very new-looking books and a top, so feeling very up on this tip at the moment! Great place to get cards and wrap too (though remember the trees: better to forget cards and wrap gifts in fabric or reusable packaging like boxes etc.)
8) Decorate your house with Nature’s offerings
Rather than buy decorations, set out on a decoration finding expedition with your kids. Nature’s offerings – from fir cones to holly and mistletoe sprigs – brighten a home and smell delicious too. Just make sure you leave some berries for the birds!
9) Have a pot luck meal
Having relations or friends over for a meal? This can get pretty expensive and stressful, especially if you’re trying to fit it in around 101 other things. Ask people to bring a dish: most people are only too happy to be able to help and you never know, you might be starting a new Christmas tradition.
10) Do a Secret Santa
Our large family doesn’t buy individual presents for one another. Instead, we have a get-together in late November where we put our Christmas present wish into a hat (a maximum of £40) and then we all get the gifts we want and the delightful surprise of guessing who our Secret Santa is from their quirky note or wrapping.
11) Order an organics box
There are so many organics box schemes now, it should be easy to find one local to you who’ll deliver. This is an excellent way to support your local farms whilst getting delicious and nutritious fresh veg into the bargain. Plus you don’t have to leave the house – bonus!
12) Take time out to recharge
Whatever it is that gives you more energy, make time for it. Whether you like yoga, a hot bath, breathing exercises, a swim or a run, schedule it in your diary just like you would any other engagement.
13) Don’t send Christmas cards, send e-cards
I love a hand-written card more than anything, and take particular delight in posting off letters at the Post Office…BUT (and it’s a big one) I really don’t get the need to send hundreds of cards with quick impersonal messages at Christmas. It becomes like a chore and we cut down trees to do it. Instead, why not scan a photo or child’s drawing and send with a lovely message via email. Then save writing a special letter or card to loved ones for January or February, when you have more time and their letterbox is decidedly empty.
14) Nurture your soul
Whether or not you practice a religion, there is no doubt that this is a sacred time of year. All around us, nature is quietening down for a long winter’s nap. There is a sense of magic in homes lit by candles, families gathered together, love travelling many miles to faraway friends. Make time for spirituality; whether it’s lighting a candle for departed dear ones, singing in a carol service, gathering around a Solstice fire, or quietly nurturing your heart with love-focused meditation.
15) Get outside in the fresh air
Run about and fling your arms wide in the brisk December air. Whenever things get too much, one of the most restorative things to do is reconnect with Mother Earth and feel her pulse underfoot. Walk amongst trees and fill your lungs with their sweet rejuvenating goodness.
16) Get crafty!
Get your friends or family together for an afternoon of crafting. Making things together is a wonderfully uplifting and fun activity and even if you think you don’t have a creative bone in your body, making a paper-chain from old newspapers and magazines is seriously fun – see how long you can go! You could invite friends over for a mulled wine and crafting evening and catch up on news whilst indulging in some present-making.
17) Reach out to others
Research has shown that helping others enhances our feelings of wellbeing so it’s a win-win situation! Perhaps you might want to volunteer at your local homeless shelter or donate cakes to a charity bake-sale. Or maybe pop in on an elderly neighbour or invite someone who hasn’t got family round for a meal. Helping others sends out a message to our kids that everyone is equal and deserves love, attention and care. See it as your personal antithesis to the grabby marketing at this time of year, and a focus on what really matters.
18) Burn essential oils
The burning of essences and sacred oils has been used for millennia to create ambience and peaceful, clean homes. Try frankincense and mandarin for a warming, heart-centred festive blend, or rosemary and basil to uplift and energise.
19) Hang gratitudes on your tree
Cut out little paper stars or hearts and thread them with ribbon. Invite your family and guests to write things they’re grateful for in their lives, and hang them on the tree as a daily reminder of the good things in life.
20) Make a daytrip a special gift
More than the latest toy, our kids crave our time and attention. Why not tuck a voucher for a trip out in their stocking? Check out our museum and gallery listings for fun free places to go and look at their fab events at this time of year.
Make the most of the long nights by catching up on sleep where you can. Take a tip from Nature and settle into hibernation mode, making space for relaxation and stillness.
22) Give hugs as Christmas presents
Totally broke? Fret not, who can say no to a really warm, centred and loving hug offered as a Christmas present. It’s presence, not presents, right? I know I’d prefer a little love note and a big hug to a bottle of bath oil I’ll never use!