Halloween is over and whether we like it or not, the countdown to Christmas is well and truly on. The shops are decorated, Christmas adverts are all over the television, Santa lists have started and my own personal marker that Christmas is coming – I’m a Celebrity is set to return to our screens!
While certain “celebrities” are preparing to feast on kangaroo testicles and ostrich anus, those of us not renowned for reality show appearances will probably be more focused on the million and one things that have to be done ahead of December 25th - and how many types of potato are too many for Christmas day.
It may well be the season to be jolly but that doesn’t make it any less a stressful time. With that in mind I have compiled a list of 6 things that I have found help with the financial, emotional and time pressure stress of the coming weeks.
1.Make a list
Before you hit the shops, make a list of what you are looking for. It’s easy otherwise to get caught up in the frenzy and supposed offers in the various shops. With a list, you know exactly what you’re looking for, which hopefully can save you time. Without a list, there’s a huge temptation to buy lots of bargains and blow your budget on things you didn’t want or need. There’s also the danger that you’ll forget some of what you set out to buy!
2. Look out for offers
The shops are in competition mode with seemingly daily changes in offers, from 3 for 2’s, to half price gifts, to vouchers if you spend a certain amount, to the lure of Black Friday deals! Details of most of these offers can be found online and while advertising naturally actively attempts to encourage us to part with our money through the promise of “must end soon” and “while stocks last” the reality is that a lot of these offers are ongoing for a period. Take stock of the offer, “google” around to see how it compares and make your decision then. Don’t feel the pressure to jump right in and buy something that you didn’t really want or need anyway.
3. Online saves time
Online shopping has given us, not only the opportunity to buy what we’d like from home, but to also do our research before we leave the house, if we fancy braving the shops. Many websites now let us see if the desired item is in stock in particular locations and, if such is the case, let us reserve it before we make a wasted trip. So very important as the crowd levels increase and parking becomes a nightmare!
4. Wrap as you go.
Rather than leaving all the wrapping until Christmas week, or worse still Christmas Eve, free yourself up by wrapping your purchases the day you buy them and label and bag ‘em . You’ll be grateful in the long run. Just don’t hide them too safely!!!
5. Remember Santa is on your side.
The man in red has come ever more on board in supporting parents in their choices of appropriate gifts. Santa recognises that there are different rules in different houses. It’s worth reminding your children that Santa only brings things that he knows parents allow – that goes for dwarf hamsters too!
6.Don’t sweat the small stuff.
We’re all guilty of wanting things to go a certain way and Christmas can magnify that as we attempt to recreate idyllic scenes from childhood, or create our own new "picture-perfect" ones. Life is life though, and things go wrong. Try to keep everything in perspective. It’s not the end of the world if your Christmas tree can only be decorated from two-thirds of the way up thanks to an inquisitive and destructive toddler. It’s not the end of the world if your domestic goddess skills are somewhat lacking and you have to buy rather than make your own Christmas cake and pudding. It’s not even the end of the world if your annual family Santa visit is somewhat overshadowed by your toddler’s screams of terror and the photographic evidence that you’ve paid for.
What is important is that you’re a family, spending family time together, celebrating the joys of the season and supporting each other too. While Christmas can be a magical time it can be an emotional time also, particularly if you’ve lost a loved one that year, if illness has been prevalent or if it stirs sad memories from Christmases and times past. Be kind to yourself, be kind to each other and celebrate in a way that suits you and your loved ones best.