Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, but it can also be a source of anxiety, frustration and disappointment for many people. Whether it’s finding the perfect gifts, preparing festive meals, decorating the house, or dealing with family issues, there are many potential pitfalls that can ruin your festive spirit – which is why this Christmas survival guide is crucial reading!
But don’t worry, the Christmas.co.uk team can help you avoid these common problems and make your Christmas more enjoyable and less stressful.
Here’s a quick round-up of what might go wrong:
Overwhelming stress: The pressure to create a perfect Christmas can lead to stress and burnout.
Gift-giving fiascos: Last-minute shopping can result in less thoughtful gifts or, worse, forgotten ones.
Cooking catastrophes: Overcooking, undercooking, or forgetting key ingredients can turn your Christmas meal into a disaster.
- Family feuds: Tensions can run high when family members with different personalities and opinions come together.
- Budget blowouts: Overspending during the festivities can lead to financial stress in the New Year.
That’s why we have prepared some tips on what can happen, the common mistakes and how to avoid them, so you can enjoy a merry and hassle-free Christmas.
Tip 1: Plan your menu and shopping list in advance
One of the most common Christmas pitfalls is running out of food or ingredients or spending too much time and money on groceries. To avoid this, you should plan your menu and shopping list in advance and stick to it. Think about how many people you are feeding, what their dietary preferences are, and what dishes you want to make.
Then, make a list of all the ingredients you need, and check your cupboards and fridge for what you already have. You can also save time and money by buying some items online or in bulk, or by making some dishes ahead and freezing them.
Don’t believe us? Here’s Christmas.co.uk favourite Jamie Oliver spelling out what needs to be done. His video, Plan Ahead for Christmas with Jamie Oliver, really does offer great advice.
Jamie’s top get-ahead tips and festive inspiration include planning ahead and knowing what you can do beforehand. And that includes parts of your Christmas Day dinner. This means deciding on what you are going to cook (and sticking with that choice!), writing down the cooking times and what needs to be done on the big day and when.
Christmas.co.uk top tip: From experience, as Christmas survival guide, we know that writing a shopping list and details of the cooking times on a cold November might not match up with what happens in your home on Christmas Day. For many, the meal is a daunting prospect and a challenge to get everything cooked and served up. You will need a checklist to ensure everything is bought and a cooking schedule to avoid the stress of not having everything ready on time. The timetable should also include the things you can do in the days before such as laying the table or making gravy. To help, we have put together the Christmas.co.uk’s simple ‘To do’ list and Christmas Day cooking schedule – just download it and use it as your template for festive success!
Tip 2: Delegate tasks and ask for help
Another common Christmas issue is trying to do everything yourself and ending up exhausted and overwhelmed. To avoid this, you should delegate tasks and ask for help from your family or friends. You don’t have to be the perfect host or hostess, and you don’t have to do everything alone. You can assign roles to different people, such as setting the table, decorating the tree, wrapping the gifts, or washing the dishes. You can also ask for help with cooking, baking or cleaning. This way, you can share the workload and the fun, and enjoy the company of your loved ones.
Tip 3: Set a budget and stick to it
Another common Christmas problem is overspending on gifts, decorations or entertainment, and regretting it later. To avoid this, you should set a budget for all of these – and don’t overspend, even though you might be tempted to! You don’t have to break the bank to have a wonderful Christmas, and you don’t have to buy expensive or extravagant gifts for everyone.
You can set a limit on how much you want to spend per person or do a Secret Santa or a gift exchange with your family or friends. You can also make some gifts yourself, such as homemade cookies, candles or ornaments. (We have an article on really great and easy Christmas gifts you can make to impress people!). You can also save money by using natural or recycled materials for decorations, or by using online platforms for entertainment.
We really enjoyed this video from the Budget Mum and while it hasn’t had many views yet, there’s some great advice.
The video – How to stay on track this Christmas | Budgeting plan for low income – highlights that you don’t need to spend a fortune on Christmas Day.
Instead, the presenter highlights that we all will have other outgoings in December so understanding how to plan and budget will be crucial.
But this extends to everyone, and we don’t need to go into debt to have a good time.
The other downside to meeting your financial Christmas budget is that you will be either spending money you don’t have or there will be a dreaded financial headache in January when your credit card bill lands on your doorstep.
There are some ideas on how to plan with a calendar, work out what you need for everyday items and then budgeting for the extra expense that comes with entertaining on Christmas Day.
Christmas.co.uk top tip: Plan ahead and track the prices of the gifts you want to buy. If you have a Christmas budget, you can start buying gifts over several months, to spread the cost. But don’t just buy anything at any time. Make a list of what you want to buy and keep an eye on the prices. You can use online tools like PriceSpy or the Amazon price tracker CamelCamelCamel to compare prices and see the price history of different products. This way, you can avoid falling for fake Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales that don’t offer real value. You can also set up alerts to notify you when the price drops below a certain level. By planning ahead and tracking the prices, you can save money and buy the best gifts for your loved ones.
Tip 4: Be flexible and adaptable
Another common Christmas pitfall is having unrealistic expectations or rigid plans, and getting frustrated when things don’t go as planned. To avoid this, you should be flexible and adaptable.
You don’t have to follow every tradition or custom, and you don’t have to stick to a strict schedule.
You can be open to changes and surprises and embrace the unexpected.
You can also be creative and improvise if something does go wrong, such as using alternative ingredients, recipes or games. You can also be grateful for what you have and focus on the positive aspects of the situation.
Here are some other tips to help you cope on the big day:
- Set your expectations realistically. Don’t expect everything to be perfect or try to please everyone. Accept that some things may go wrong, or some people may disagree. Focus on the positive aspects of the festive season and enjoy the moments that make you happy
- Avoid known triggers. If you know that certain topics, activities, or people tend to cause you stress, try to avoid them or limit your exposure to them. For example, you could change the subject if someone brings up a sensitive issue, or you could politely decline an invitation if you feel overwhelmed by too many social events
- Take care of yourself physically. Eating well, getting enough sleep, and staying hydrated can help you cope with stress better. Try to avoid overindulging in alcohol, caffeine, or sugary foods, as they can affect your mood and energy levels. You could also do some physical activity, such as walking, dancing, or yoga, to release some tension and boost your mood
- Spend time with family and friends while still taking care of yourself. Christmas can be a great opportunity to reconnect with your loved ones and share some joy and laughter. However, it can also be exhausting and overwhelming if you feel pressured to socialise or accommodate everyone’s needs. Remember that you have the right to say no, set boundaries, and take some time for yourself. You could also reach out to someone who makes you feel supported and understood, and talk to them about how you are feeling
- Learn to switch off and do nothing regularly. Sometimes, the best way to cope with stress is to take a break from it. You could try to find some time each day to relax and unwind, without feeling guilty or worrying about your to-do list. You could do something that you enjoy, such as reading, listening to music, meditating, or watching a movie. Or you could simply do nothing and enjoy the silence and peace.
Tip 5: Christmas survival guide – relax and have fun!
The last and most important tip is to relax and have fun. Christmas is not a competition or a performance, but a celebration of love, joy and peace.
You don’t have to stress over every detail or worry about every outcome. You don’t have to please everyone or impress anyone. You just have to be yourself and enjoy the moment.
You can also do some things that make you happy and relaxed, such as listening to music, reading a book, watching a movie or taking a nap – these are crucial activities as part of a Christmas survival guide.
You can also laugh at the mistakes or mishaps that may happen and make them part of the memories.
Social media will be ablaze on Christmas Day with funny mishaps that have affected other families. Our quick research highlights these incidents – all avoidable, so take note!
- Getting decorations down from the loft can be a risky business. One out of every 50 people have taken a tumble while doing so.
- The festive season is not always merry and bright. For eight percent of the young adults aged 16-24, it has meant a trip to the A&E.
- Hanging up decorations can also be a dangerous task. More than 2.6 million people have lost their balance and fallen off a stool or ladder while trying to reach the higher spots.
- Even the Christmas tree can pose a threat. Around 1,000 people get hurt by their tree every year, usually when they are putting decorations on the upper branches.
- Badly wired Christmas lights can also cause a shock. More than one in 40 people have experienced an electric jolt due to faulty wiring.
- Cutting vegetables can be a tricky and painful chore. Nearly one in five people have sliced themselves while preparing the festive feast.
Having fun at Christmas means different things to different families. Some people like to go to church, others will fit in a snooze or a walk. Others will want to play games.
If you do want to play games with guests, you not only have a range of board games to enjoy but also some fun things you can do too. While many of us will find playing a board game relaxing, not everyone else will do. Be wary of competitive guests who might lose control on what is meant to be a calm and peaceful day for families.
ITV’s This Morning show has a great segment on this and there’s a lot to enjoy.
Josie’s Christmas Party Games is a great video and will help break the ice while dinner is cooking (or you can leave these until the evening….).
The first fun game involves a bottle – it’s not spin the bottle – but a great fun game for most people. It involves tying a pen to a ribbon, tying the ribbon around your waist and trying to drop the pen into the bottle. Not as easy as it sounds and it’s a great one for children.
The second is a fun drinking game – mainly for adults, to be fair – but this is a great chance for children to enjoy non-alcoholic drinks too! However, while this game is great fun we should recommend drinking in moderation – and, again, be wary of competitive family or friends who take the drinking a step too far. You have been warned!
Christmas survival guide – How to avoid common Christmas pitfalls
Let’s face it, being prepared will help you have a smooth and enjoyable Christmas day but remember that the most important thing is not what you do or have, but who you share it with.
And being prepared for the festive season is crucial because it allows you to enjoy the season of goodwill without unnecessary stress.
Remember, when you plan ahead with our helpful Christmas survival guide, you can:
Avoid last-minute panic: By starting early, you reduce the chances of running into unexpected problems that can arise from procrastination.
- Focus on the joy: When you’re well-prepared, you can fully embrace the joy of the season, knowing that you have the essentials covered.
- Create lasting memories: A well-organised Christmas Day allows you to create cherished memories with your loved ones without the distractions of last-minute chaos.
This really should be a time of happiness, togetherness and celebration.
By recognising and proactively addressing common Christmas pitfalls, you can ensure a stress-free and joyful festive season.
So, start planning early, set a budget and remember that the true spirit of Christmas lies in the love and connection you share with family and friends.