The build-up to Christmas is a truly magical and hectic time filled with last minute shopping, snatched minutes to wrap everything, visiting family and friends and, for families with children, trying to keep everyone occupied and away from the stockpile of Christmas food in the fridge.
Over the past few years the build-up to Christmas in shops has begun earlier and earlier, and this year we saw Christmas decorations and selection boxes up on the shelves before Halloween had even happened. It does seem a bit extreme, and many people think it’s ridiculous. But there does come a point where the excitement starts to kick in; it might be when you give in a bit some mince pies, or when Starbucks releases their Christmas drinks. Maybe it’s the Coca-Cola advert appearing on TV, when you pick up the family advent calendars, or when you can finally put up the tree – or when you decide on the day you’re going to put up the tree. And once the excitement and planning kicks in, it’s all just a tidal wave that won’t stop until Christmas day.
But once that day is over, that tidal wave crashes. Boxing day is universally acknowledged to be a day of lying in, eating leftovers in the form if a buffet, and watching Christmas TV films. For some, it’s a day to do the last bits of travelling. But it’s also the time when everyone can declare that Christmas is over – because Christmas isn’t dedicated for a day, it’s a time of year, weeks of celebration, of gifting and family, culminating in one spectacular day, and ending on Boxing day. After that, it’s all a bit of a slow decline towards the New Year when everyone picks themselves up, musters that last bit of excitement for one night, and then crashes once more on New Year’s day.
So in that time of non-Christmas, what do you do? After weeks of preparation and planning, what do you do when there’s nothing left to do? For most people work doesn’t resume until next year, so there’s a good week of no work, no planning, no visiting and no gifting. So what to do?
It’s time to get your life back out of Christmas mode and ready for the New Year.
A lot of families have guests come to stay over Christmas, and it is the perfect time of year to do so. But family can very easily out stay their welcome. The clichés of mothers taking over, father-in-laws disapproving, and too many people crammed into a house are clichés because they can very easily happen. As much as we love them, family can be extremely irritating after a while. So make sure that you agree on a leaving date before the visit even begins. And don’t be afraid to remind them of it if it’s getting too much. It might seem harsh, but family won’t mind, explain to them that you need your space back. Particularly if you have children, school is going to start again soon, so you need to be able to get them back into a routine as soon as possible. Set a date for when they can next visit, or when you will go and visit them, and it’ll make the process so much easier.
In saying that, don’t just dump them out as soon as Christmas is over. Take time with them, go on a day out, or play some games. Enjoy the time you have, because time isn’t infinite, and you will regret not putting up with your intrusive, overbearing, criticising, lovable family for a couple more days.
Particularly in families with children, the stacks of gifts can just sit there for a while. Boxes and bits are just sitting there in the lounge or, once you have gotten fed up with them there, in their bedrooms. With no clue where they are going to go, where to put them, and not really wanting to get them out of their boxes because then you really do have to put them away.
Well, start by having a good sort out. As you put away clothes, make space by replacing rather than adding to your wardrobe. Donate anything in good condition to charity, and anything that isn’t you can sell to a clothes to cash organisation. As you put away toys, you can donate the toys your children have outgrown to charity shops or to friends with children of an appropriate age – although seeing as it’s after Christmas they might already have enough new toys. There are so many families out there that can’t afford to give their children gifts at Christmas, and just because you’re a few days late for Christmas day does not mean that you’re too late full stop. Find a local charity and donate to them.
Taking down Christmas decorations is a lot more depressing and a complete mirror of putting them up in the first place. And because of the excitement in the build-up, putting up the decorations is a lot less of a daunting task than getting them down again. But it’s a job that needs to be done. Pick an afternoon to crack on and get things done. Start on the outside of the house and get the big things taken care off. That way when you come back inside that cold air will have woken you up and invigorated you into doing the rest. When taking down any decorations pop them into separate bags and use sheets of cardboard to wrap your strings of lights and beads around. These little things that might be annoying to you know will save you plenty of time next year when trying to unravel the light for the tree.
Why not start thinking about your resolutions? And try to keep them realistic. The problem that most people face when setting their resolutions is that they make the goals too big or too unreachable that the task is too much to handle and keep up with. Rather than setting a vague resolution to go to the gym, or get fit, or to lose weight, set one to lose 10 pounds by March. Rather than setting one to have a happier year, set a few smaller ones that will ensure you do if you follow some of them, if not all. For example; do one act of selfless kindness each week. Keep a journal listing one good thing that happened that day. Go through your social media and mute the people that only post negative things all the time.
A New Year means a new budget. It’s very common for people to overspend at Christmas. Most people set a budget for presents and food but forget to factor in the fact that heating and electric bills are bound to go up over winter, that you need to buy wrapping paper, present bags and Christmas cards. That there will always be something that breaks – like the boiler, the car, the tree – something is going to break and will need fixing or replacing. And that does mean that people overspend, have to dip into savings or have expanded their savings and have had to use credit cards or even take out a loan. So going into the New Year a lot of people are in a bit of debt, but no one wants that to set the tone for the whole year. So take it easy for a month or two, get your spends under control and work out a budget that will help you to build back your savings and reduce if not get rid of your debt.
It’s time to think about getting back into your old routines. Start plotting out a way to ease your kids into their bedtime routines, because we all let those times slip a little over the holidays. When getting into your new fitness routines, throw yourself into it. Don’t overdo it of course, but if you try and ease yourself in, then you’ll just get into a loop of only working out once a week, or for less time. Now that the Christmas leftovers have all been gobbled up, you can start sorting out your meal plans again. If you’re planning on eating healthier, this is a great way to implement it; by planning your meals and snacks for the next week. Only buy in the food you need to eat, shop online to avoid impulse purchases.