People these days seem so stressed out about Christmas, and too focussed on trying to have a perfect day that they lose sight of what really matters. Instagramming a perfectly plated Christmas dinner, or showing all your friends on Facebook how many presents are under your tree is not the way to a happy Christmas. My first tip is to limit screen time and as much of a kill joy I may sound, you won't regret it. I know there might have been presents involving technology, but if you lose your children for the day to a screen, what kind of Christmas is that? Make sure you spend the day together. This sounds obvious, but with parents in the kitchen and children in front of screens, how often does this happen?
Don't stress about the food, it's just a roast dinner. Not enough in the budget for turkey or smoked salmon? Buy a chicken and some prawns. There's always a way around things. If you read my post on How to Vegazzle you will see that fancy vegetables are so cheap and easy to prepare. If you have guests coming, why not ask them to bring something each, a dessert or a side dish? Try buying a few value range products instead of splashing out on everything from the luxury range 'just because it's Christmas'. I wonder how many people get into debt because of that phrase. Keep an eye out for luxury items on the run up to Christmas, that are reduced, if you can freeze them buy them and keep them. To save stress cooking you can pre cook a lot of vegetables and freeze those ready to put in the oven Christmas day. Keep portions smaller, after all you need room for Christmas pudding and people tend to over fill plates anyway.
Only spend what you have. I know this is hard when the kids have such high expectations, but you are teaching them such valuable life lessons if they learn they can't have everything they want. It sounds harsh I know, but I have done it with my children and they are the happiest and kindest of kids and don't expect the earth from me. They know they have my full attention, time and love which is worth more than anything money can buy. You will feel so much happier knowing you don't have a load of debt to pay with added interest.
If you can't afford presents for all your relatives, group them into family presents, or suggest a secret Santa, where you all each one person a decent gift and swap them Christmas day. What better excuse for a get together. Make time for thanking people who have been good to you in the year, even if you can't afford a present, why not invite them round for a drink, or send a nice card?
Start a little tradition with your family that doesn't cost anything. It could be the order you do things on Christmas morning for instance; we have our breakfast while opening our stockings, to keep the suspense going a bit longer. Santa wraps us out of the living room in our house, because its open plan. The kids love ripping there way into the room. Be imaginative and think what would you have liked as a child, or what did you do that was fun?
Be thankful for what you have. The most simple and profound message of Christmas is to give thanks. I know a lot of you have had a tough year, myself included but there is always something to be thankful for. Having just lost my dad, I'm thankful I had him in my life at all. I'm thankful he got his wish of dying at home surrounded by love. I'm thankful he showed me How to be Hard up and Happy.
Merry Christmas Amy x