Prepping for the Festive Season
Hands up if you noticed it’s almost Christmas.
Is it obvious yet?
Right! So you’ve noticed then!
It’s pretty hard to move at the moment without bumping into something that scream: ITS CHRISTMAS! It’s Christmas its Christmas its Christmas.
Even though you know, it’s most definitely not Christmas.
And you know, I’m alright with that.
December has always been my favorite time of the year, I love the colder weather, I love the festive spirit, the warm seasonal drinks, the lights, the decorations, the amazing gift sets (hello!), the parties and the overriding warmth. My new husbands family are big no Christmas so I’m really getting to enjoy the full experience, with Secret Santas through to massive house parties and I couldn’t be happier for it.
Well I could if my husband would just go caroling with me when we head to Guildford to spend the week with his family. But he won’t. Boo him.
But anyway, whilst the festive season is a lot of peoples cup of tea, its also not a lot of peoples peppermint latte, if you know what I mean. And even for those of us who have our Christmas jammies on the first week of November, it can still be a tiring, stressful, hectic, and frankly unhealthy, time of the year.
So do you have a game plan? Do you just go with it and roll downstairs in the most bright and gaudy jumper you can find come Christmas morning, or do you do the lists and shared wishlists and have your Christmas wrapping and tinsel boxed and categorized come the middle of November?
I think I am definitely an early planner for Christmas but by no means am I one of those people who is super on top of things, festive season wise, and there’s a lot I feel I could do to make the whole time easier, more stream lined, and by extension, hopefully, more enjoyable.
This year the Christmas season has been particular hectic for me. I flew to New Zealand on the first of December (thats almost 17 flying hours, yikes!) to help my sister out (you can read about this on my Instagram), and I’ve been here for the interim, planning to fly back to Dubai (where I started) to transit for literally 36 hours, before flying to London to spend Christmas with my husbands family (thats almost 30 hours of flying in three days, yikes again!)… on the 22nd of December.
This is my first official married Christmas.
Needless to say, its caused me a little stress. I knew it was going to though so I started planning the moment I knew I was needed in New Zealand (mid November). So this is what I’ve done, what I’m doing, and what I’m planning to do to make the holiday season not only easy, but everything I would want my first married Christmas to be, looking back. Wish me luck!
I started off by dividing my festive season up in a slightly clinical way. Who was I buying gifts for? What was I planning to wear? Where were we going to go and what social engagements did I already know were plugged into our personal calendar?
Clearly this is not a post for people who like to go with the flow!
First up of course, came gifts. I know, I totally get that the festive season isn’t about gifting and that its about togetherness, and the whole gift flood and frenzy is totally a capitalist thing that forces us to buy buy buy in a rush. I get it. And I agree. But I also disagree- because I think gifting is a wonderful tangible way to show you care. And I love giving gifts! I see it as a really great challenge where I just feel amazing when I get it right.
Its selfish okay?
But it also makes people happy, and so gifting is right up there on my list.
This year in my husband’s family we’re trying a different approach, to avoid that mad rush of spending that always leaves people worried, feeling less than if they haven’t been able to go all out, and just isn’t necessary. We’re doing a combination of a large Secret Santa gift for everyone, the big gift of the morning, the special gift if you will, and then ‘1 pound’ gifts just for laughs from everyone, to everyone. That’s great because its really made life easier for us this year- I spent last Christmas, before our wedding, with my in laws as well and it was an all out present fest! Which is awesome, but it is ten times more stressful.
Regardless of whether or not your family or friends have got this kind of system going or you’re just regular old gifts, there are definitely things you can do to make the gift giving process fun rather than stress inducing, tear making, and just generally a little awful.
Let’s start with the most tried and true advice, would you believe it, make a list. Just like Santa. But whether your boyfriend or husband or partners been naughty or nice, you still need to get them a gift. Just FYI.
I know there’s nothing ground breaking about making a list and I’m sure you’ve already got one going somewhere in your Notes App, but even though I love lists more than pretty much anything (except you Starbucks Grande Iced Latte with one shot of coffee), I actually hadn’t got a list down for my gifts until well into November, and after I had already ordered some of them. Which is just downright silly when you think about it.
Last year, which was the first Christmas I spent staying at my then fiance, now husbands home, and I have to say I really, really went all out. To the point where, lets be real, I’m a little anxious about this year because I just don’t know how I’m going to out do it! Think five different mix and match gift wrap prints, matching but not too matching ribbons, twine, gift baubles, cards, and… yeah the whole lot.
It deserved a photoshoot let’s just put it that way.
I’m definitely going more minimal this year because not only is that impossibly hard to do when life is getting in the way, but its also really hard to do when you’re flying in the day before Christmas Eve- transporting all of that took a whole suitcase! So this year I’m definitely going more streamline, but still pretty, but the one thing that really helps me with all this is keeping a well stocked drawer ahead of time. You can all the trimmings and lots of tape!
This really helps me out for two reasons. One, these are the things I generally tend to forget, so the last minute stress of that is gone. And two, the best wrapping and cards tend to get picked up really fast and sell out really soon. Problem avoided!
Now its hard to give advice on the actual gifts without moving into the territory of gift guides, and I’ll be honest, I am not up to doing a gift guide this year! I love doing a gift guide but it does take a lot of work and dedication and there are tons of people out there doing an amazing job already.
But how I’ve been dealing with particularly tough people to buy for is this: remember that not all gifts are bought in a store!
We all know this, and yet year after year, I find myself forgetting!
Gift hampers made yourself around a theme that really matters to the recipient, vouchers for date nights (!), chores you’ll do, projects you’ll help them finish, DIY memory books… there’s a whole world of lovely, sometimes funny, personal gifts you can literally make yourself at home, for next to nothing. And you’ll know no one else in the world will be finding that under their tree.
Or there’s always experiences: walking food tours, the chance to drive and F1 car around the track, a spa day, or a pottery class. There’s a literal world of experiences out there to choose from. And you can always wrap it up in a nice box of sweets and chocolates so they still have something to unwrap and enjoy in the moment.
The final thing I’m trying to remind myself of this year, because I do have a tendency to go a little ham with gifts, going all out and ignoring the cost (I have to admit I once sent a friend 25 gifts on their 25th birthday- not sure if I’m proud or ashamed of this! She was having a tough year okay?), is that gifts don’t have to be costly to be great.
Yes I would love to give every female I know a Mulberry bag for Christmas. And if I could I actually 100 per cent totally would. But I can’t.
So a pouch from Accessorize filled with makeup minis will have to do.
And that’s not half bad is it?
After gifts, another key element in my festive season radar is of course, what I’ll be wearing. I may well be totally over the top and totally alone in this, but I do think truly hard about what to wear each Christmas and New Year season.
I like to take that cheesy but amazing annual Christmas picture, no matter who I’m spending it with, and I feel like wearing something really special and festive that you can see and remember when you look back over the years, is a really special part of making festive memories. You also just feel that much more in the party mode when you’re wearing something you’ve especially bought yourself, or something you really love that makes you feel shiny and new.
If you can budget for it go ahead and splash out on that special dress! This year I’ve really spoilt myself and bought a beautiful deep maroon Ted Baker midi dress, thats understand and wintry, but still feels very feminine and sophisticated for Christmas. Honestly, as sad at this sounds, its already made me excited for Christmas Day photos. That can’t be a bad thing right?
(And I am planning to wear it again on New Years Even since we’ll be in England for Christmas and Dubai for New Year’s, so I’ve bagged myself a bargain right? Right?).
But I honestly don’t leave it there, I’m that… organized (crazy).
Since we’re going away for a week over Christmas I decide on my outfits well ahead of time so that I know I’ll be warm, well dressed enough for the random dinners and house parties that always crop up in the festive season (especially when you’re visiting friends and family you rarely see!), and know that you won’t end up in a random skirt and top that make you feel less than your most put together and festive self.
At least that’s the last thing I want to feel!
I tend to plan around seven outfits, not a hard and fast rule, but something I more or less stick to, and that really settles my mind and also, bonus, sure makes packing easier!
And finally, the last bit of the festive rush that I like to take some time to plan ahead of time, is possibly the most obvious of the lot.
My eating and health habits.
Let’s face it: Christmas doesn’t do your healthy eating plan the best of favors. And that’s alright: part of the fun of the festive season is going all out and enjoying yourself. I totally 100 per cent get that and that’s how I want to be.
And this is a big however: I also don’t want to feel awful as I go into the new year, both physically, and because I feel like I’ve undone all my efforts over the year of eating mindfully and healthily, and actually not stuffing my face with anything and everything I feel like.
So it’s a delicate balance.
I’m not a drinker, I literally hate the taste of alcohol, so there’s that, that makes handling the plethora of bad choice around the festive season much easier for me.
But I have a huge and unrelenting sweet tooth, which I do struggle to keep in check at the best of times. So hello advent calendars, mince pies, cake, biscuits and hot chocolate.
This year I’m trying to be a little different.
I want to enjoy all the yummy things that come out around this year, but food isn’t what I love the festive season for the most and it’s not all it’s about. I really believe you can fully enjoy the season whilst indulging in moderation and I am trying to repeat that to myself from now, so I got into the season with the right attitude, and feel healthy, light and refreshed when January first comes around. I don’t know that I’ll manage to do it but I will try my hardest! Sure I’ll indulge on Christmas Day and New Years Even dinner, and I am more than happy to accept chocolates as gifts and have a few mugs of hot chocolate.
But I will also be going for walks, getting to Zumba, and remembering that really I can eat chocolate at any time of the year- I don’t have to eat my entire years quota between the 24th and the 1st!
So there you have it, that’s how I’m prepping for the festive season this year.
I hope mine will be amazing and I hope yours will be amazing.
All the festive love and good cheer,