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?