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Rediscovering The Magic Of Christmas

Author: Lauren Coleman

The last two years I have found Christmas exceptionally stressful. In 2015 my Mum was having chemotherapy as we undertook an exasperating house purchase finally moving in on the 18th of December. Last year was nowhere near as traumatic but I’d say spending November and December decorating and clearing the house to accommodate 12 overnight guests was hardly a barrel of laughs. We were shattered by the time Christmas rolled round and my eyes still water and with all the hidden costs of hosting – new bedding, towels, glasses and whatnot. It took a long time for the bank balance to recover!

I used to adore Christmas. I’d start shopping in September and have a calendar packed with social engagements that would make the Kardashians jealous. The last couple of years though have left me jaded and I’m peachy keen to get the magic back this year. I feel very lucky to have a wonderful, healthy family, a bevy of lovely friends and a welcoming space to gather together my troops.

Last Easter I reckon I got the celebration nailed and think theres a few valuable lessons to be learned in keeping it simple; I put up a beautiful wreath on the front door, filled the house with posies of spring flowers and laid the table with miniature eggs and tulips. It took all of twenty minutes.
We decided on a menu on Good Friday, had a food delivery on the Saturday and then James and my brother-in-law spent a couple of hours on the Easter Sunday cooking beef and a few side dishes. My mum made the dessert and we had a load of wine and cheese. There was minimal stress, heaps of love and we all had a splendid time.

At the risk of sounding like someone in their eighties, at the time I did wonder if the simplicity of our Easter celebration had a sense of what Christmas was ‘back in the day’. In the bygone age when festivities started a few weeks or so before Christmas and ended on Boxing Day. When kids got a couple of presents rather than the whole of Hamleys and Amazon put together and people didn’t go food shopping at 3am in the morning getting throughly disappointed that all the Turkey trays had sold out. (Yes that was me last year).

So for Christmas 2017 I’m embracing the simplicity and I’ve decided the year to cut back on the faff and load up on the memory making with my nearest and dearest instead.
I’m making my list now and will give myself two weeks at the end of the month to bash the plastic rather than let the whole process drag on. (I save money all year round for presents so I might as well take advantage and blitz the shopping).
If it seems like a chore to decorate the house then I’ll just put up a tree and be done with it.
I won’t slave away in the kitchen making canapes, I’ll just buy them.
They’ll be no DIY after mid December, no crazy deadlines and no midnight kitchen painting.
I’m going to take my godson to see Father Christmas, go to a wreath making workshop and lie about on the sofa watching Christmas films. All the things I was too busy to do last year as I either had a paint brush in one hand or was down the tip. I’m also thinking of making James an advent calendar however I accidentally left a receipt on the worktop and he’s already started querying why I’ve been buying Lindt chocolates and salted caramels which has taken the magic out of the surprise.
Back to the subject of festive outings, last year I did manage to do a couple at the start of December so I’m actually fibbing when I said I was always decorating. James and I went to Christmas at Blenheim and then my mum, sister and I went to Chatsworth too. This year I’ve booked James and I tickets to Waddesdon Manor which was a bit of a mission. Do you have to book these things in June?!
I always donate to charity at Christmas but this year I’d like to do a little bit more to help out. Lottie has some really lovely ideas over on Rock My Family today for giving back to those who need it most.

Here’s to making Christmas less stressful! What memories are you looking forward to making? How are you giving back this Christmas?

{Contributors}

Photography by WE ARE // THE CLARKES taken from Tamsin’s Christmas Room Tour

Author
Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
Follow Lauren on instagram @mrslaurencoleman

26 thoughts on “Rediscovering The Magic Of Christmas

  1. Lovely post Lauren 🙂 There’s so much pressure to put on the perfect Christmas, I like your motto of embracing the simplicity and concentrating on what’s important x

  2. I love this Lauren, there seems to be so much pressure on the ‘perfect Christmas’ when actually it can be a really hard time for a lot of people. I definitely agree that by keeping things simple there is more time to enjoy it all. Where we live it is also a really lovely time with the local community with lots of non-commercial events going on such as the Children’s Christmas tree party where they all get an orange from Father Christmas and Christmas Eve carol singing. Things in our house will start with stir up Sunday and then we’ll blitz Christmas shopping online in a day leaving us to enjoy December! x

  3. I must admit I’ve always been a traditionalist. More the merrier and it’s dig in here aka bring your own bedding if we’re short. Ideally on your own duvet already so I don’t need to waste time making up beds. Hosting is a bloody faff. Christmas is chaotic, manic and the only sparkles we need are people. And from the board games which get a bit too competitive.
    Personally I find throwing some potatoes around the beef and roasting my own less manic than battling the shops.
    Christmas starts here Christmas Saturday (Panto), Christmas Eve (baking in the morning then drinks in the local pub with my parents’ 15 friends, their 30 kids and 30 partners and 60 kids – see what I mean about manic) then home for bed and mince pies. Christmas Day is less about fancy marble toasted orange nutty parsnips and Boxing Day is waving off the Hunt and a walk across the fields.

    We have a quiet New Year.

    I mean, don’t get me wrong. Christmas starts mid November with hot chocolate from the markets, ice skating, trip to pick out the tree, NT reindeer hunts and a trip to Santa but I think the fact we have kids now makes it more about them – the benefit being we’re home with candles lit by 7.30pm and less TIRED.

    1. Definitely agree with more the merrier. Just want to make sure I have time to see all these people rather than being down B&Q!

  4. Thank goodness for your post. There is so much pressure on Christmas – how to make the day special etc etc.

    Now I love Christmas but the husband and I are time poor and travel a lot with work (sounds glam, often isn’t, but I do prefer it to an office), so we do Christmas our way.

    I like to get 90%+ gifts done by 1 December, decorations up the first weekend of December, and chill the rest of the month. Little to no crafting here! None of our family are local so we do two days trips. Christmas day is just us two and the cat. Simple, relaxed, no pressure (although this year I’m in the middle of an Open University qualification, so will be essay writing in the seasonal break – not on Christmas day though!)

    1. Oh Caroline, I take my hat off to you with your OU qualification. I really do hope you get a little break. Heres to keeping it simple x

  5. Such a lovely post Lauren.
    I am hosting this year for the first time, we have been in our house a year and a half so we are getting there. I have a few jobs on the list to get done before Christmas, including sprucing up the unloved spare room but am trying to keep it minimal! I tend to go a bit crazy with the expense and last year, like you, it took a while for the bank balance to recover and I don’t want to do the same this year!
    I love the idea of a beautiful wreath on the door, a big gorgeous tree, a garland around the fireplace and done! My aim is to keep the food very simple and cost effective where possible but on our annual trip to London will be buying a few special bits from Fortnum and Mason just to give it a touch of extra sparkle! x

    1. Sounds like you have the right idea Sarah. Best of luck with hosting and yay for a bit of F&M at Christmas 🙂

  6. Christmas is definitely going to be low key for us this year – our first leg of travel back to New Zealand! (so many British people are utterly horrified by this!) We are having a farewell/Xmas dinner with friends on the 22nd. We are cooking the turkey and other bringing all the sides and dessert. I am super looking forward to it but not looking forward to saying goodbye to everyone! We will then have another mini Xmas celebration when we get home. J is only two, so he wont know the difference. Christmas is what you make of it and doesn’t need to be a big fuss. I feel like the advertising and shops getting earlier every year is blowing it out of proportion and I expect a backlash to occur in the next few years where people boycott it all for a simpler Christmas 🙂

    1. Oh Emma it’s going to be emotional on the 22nd! Lovely that you have double celebrations planned though.
      I think with Halloween becoming big in the UK Christmas is actually getting pushed back a bit, but when it gets here, it’s on steroids!!!!

  7. What a lovely post Lauren. I’m a complete fan of Christmas too, but ours was brought back into perspective in 2009, when our middle daughter fell incredibly ill as a baby. We were in hospital for most of November / December, let out for Christmas, then back in for January. I initially felt utterly miserable – I genuinely thought we’d be eating roast turkey in the hospital canteen. But funnily enough it simplified everything for us – I bought all my cards and wrapping in the WHSmith in the hospital (instead of traipsing round town trying to find the best looking cards & gift wrap), wrote the cards on the ward, I did all my shopping online, and we had a simple but gorgeous Christmas day meal due to leaving hospital on the 23rd so no time for shopping. 8 years on and we keep Christmas really simple now – granted we still have a house full and much merriment, but that Christmas taught us a lot – keep it simple, everyone mucks in. Whilst I wouldn’t wish that illness on anyone, it sometimes takes big events to shift your focus somewhat. Cheers to a merry, peaceful Christmas to you and yours xx

    1. Thanks Nicola, it’s so hard that it’s often illness which leads to a shift in perspective. When my mum was poorly, my sister and I struggled with whether we should try and go all out and go to town for Christmas or keep it really low key as the only thing that mattered what that we were all together celebrating. Last year when my mum was on the mend I felt guilty for getting stressed about Christmas but the thing was our house just wasn’t ready to host that amount of people. There were boxes in every room (some you couldn’t even get it to!) and we were so time poor as I was working three jobs then.

      Keep it simple and everyone mucks in is such a good ethos. I hope you and your family have an amazing Christmas. x

  8. Oh this is making me want to make plans and write lists for all of December! I agree that it’s all got here too soon and I like the idea of just doing the little low key Easter style celebration. This is my first Christmas in my own house with my lovely boy (last year I was newly single and had strained relations with my parents so couldn’t face going to them). I can’t believe how things have changed and we are both so excited about Christmas this year.

    I’ve been busy making pompoms to make a funky wreath. We’ve got a trip planned to a local National Trust village event which turns off all electric lights and everyone uses candles, the shops open late and there is lots of mulled cider etc! I am also plotting a lovely walk at the seaside over the hols at Lyme Regis.

    I am starting to think about presents, like the idea of blasting it all online in one day. I am also trying to choose a colour theme for my Christmas decorations and plan to visit a Christmas tree farm to make it a bit more of an event.

    Gosh I’m excited!

    1. Congrats on your first Christmas together Bunny. So exciting!
      Your candle lit event sounds just magical. What a lovely way to mark the season x

  9. I think Christmas commercialism is crazy- I don’t relate to that side of it at all, sure i want to have a good time but i don’t understand the strive for perfection. A couple of years ago i laughed reading some reviews for a paint brand at B and Q online (also- noting its rather sad that i spent so long researching paint but that’s another story) one person claimed Christmas was “ruined” because the paint was so bad and patchy and that they didn’t have time now to go and fix it in time for Christmas day and that their dining room was a state- what would the family think! I can honestly say that my family or friends couldn’t give a flying funk if they came to mine for dinner and my paintwork was less than perfect, i think they would be more grateful that i had cooked! But i see it everywhere- furniture stores advertising to get your sofa/dinner table etc before Christmas- sure, get one if you don’t already have one but why is there this pressure to show off to everyone?
    Over the past 4 years we just had one Christmas where everyone in our family was healthy/not in hospital, and it was very much cherished, not because we had beautifully painted walls or excessive gifts, but because we could all sit around the table for dinner with paper hats on and bad cracker jokes and enjoy some good food.
    I hope you enjoyed a slower pace Christmas this year and generally just think that everyone should chill out, have some good food and drink and a few presents under the tree and plenty of sofa time!

    1. I’ve never understood those ‘get it in time for Christmas’ ad’s either – I’d rather wait until the unruly drinking / eating is over, THEN buy the new sofa / furniture in January, when everyone is being sensible and sober 😉

      1. Haha- exactly-my dining table is tablecloth free all year but come December it gets covered in a garish red and white vinyl tablecover from Lidl to save it from inevitable booze spillages! I’m a florist so i make us a big, natural styled wreath for the door, but all good taste is abandoned as soon as you get through the front door- tinsel all the way!

  10. Oh a simple Christmas! My idea of heaven. With a two year old we really can’t be there’s making everything perfect for it all to get ripped to pieces seconds later. I’m all about the making this year. My friend just started out with her own floristry business (lilac and lace, it’s fab) so I’m going to her wreath making workshop this month. And I think I’ll do a garland and work out a way to put out our baubles without getting the tree down. It was a ridiculously priced Balsam Hill one which is beautiful but actually too big for our current lounge and can only be decorated at the top third to keep naughty fingers at bay. And we have a climber – so thugs could be even worse! I think it’ll come back out when someone is older and we move house next year! Any alternative tree ideas ladies?

  11. Dear Lauren, I enjoyed your post as I also think that Christmas should be spent with family and friends. Most of all, the real meaning of the holiday is to share love and good wishes with our dearest ones! A simple Christmas family celebration sounds like a dream to me!
    Here is another article on the topic that I’ve read recently, it is very interesting as well: https://www.handyflowers.co.uk/get-into-the-christmas-spirit
    Sending you my best wishes!

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