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Celebrating Christmas with Family

Celebrating Christmas with Family

How was celebrating Christmas with family last year? 

All perfect and hunky-dory?  Or was there times during the 'perfect season' that you felt weren't all that perfect?

A mentor once said to me 'Why expect different results, if you don't do anything differently' and she's absolutely right.  Why do we expect things to be different if we don't change anything about how they unfold?  Why do we keep encountering the same issues when celebrating Christmas with our family year after damn year?

Because most people don't review.  They don't look back at the last year, just after it's happened whilst it's still fresh in their minds.   They don't look at what worked really well, and what didn't.  They don't look at which actions still serve their family well, or what is outdated.  They don't make notes, just after it's happened, to remind them of things for next year.  It's just one of those things that isn't done.  

This year, let's get different results.  This year, let's celebrate Christmas with family as you want it to be.  Your perfect Christmas.

Change how you are celebrating Christmas with family this year

Below are lots of prompting questions to get you to think about how Christmas was last year for both you and your family, and these have been split into the main areas of Christmas planning.  Browse through the questions, and make a note of those that worked really well for you, and why.  Likewise, anything that wasn't so great, make a note of, and why.

Celebrating Christmas Presents with the family

Picture of family as part of the celebrating Christmas with families article

I'll bet if you're celebrating Christmas with young family this year, some would say that the presents are the biggest part of Christmas.  And judging by the number of Christmas gift guides that come out, it seems to be one of those areas that give people the most anxiety.  Have a think about the presents that you gave last year.

  • Were they thoughtful gifts?
  • Were they well received?
  • Were your presents within budget?
  • Did you 'keep on buying' out of guilt?
  • Did you have any surprise gifting that wasn't expected?
  • Did you get the presents early enough?  

 Celebrating the Advent Countdown with family

Celebrating Christmas with family and how you mark advent

This can also a big part of celebrating Christmas with family.  How many people in your household have an advent calendar for example?  Or attend church?  Here, think about the actual advent itself, the counting down the days to Christmas, rather than the activities that you do during the advent period.  That will get covered further on.

  • What did you do to celebrate advent last Christmas as part of a family?
  • Did you acknowledge the spiritual aspect, if this is important to you?
  • Was there anything that was not enjoyed?
  • Was there a stand out event?
  • Was there anything that you wanted to do, but didn't get round to?  Why?
  • Was all of these different costs factored into your budget?

Celebrating Christmas through activities with family

The activities we do as part of celebrating Christmas with family, including trips to places such as Christmas markets

This is all of those activities that we do when celebrating Christmas with the family that allow us to feel like we're #makingmemories.  The trips to the grotto. The meet ups with family/friends that are organised to exchange presents.  Trips to Winter Wonderland, or a fantastic light show.  Watching the pantomime at the theatre.  The Christmas Eve trip to the cinema that is your yearly tradition.  

Have a think of all of those Christmas activities that get organised as part of celebrating Christmas with family, and how they all turned out.

  • What activities did you do as part of celebrating Christmas last year.  List them all down.
  • Were there any that you absolutely loved?  Why?
  • Were there any that the family really didn't enjoy?  Why?
  • Was there anything that you wanted to do, but didn't get round to?
  • How did you feel fitting in those different activities?
  • Did any of these activities require anything extra that you didn't already have to hand?
  • What could have made you better prepared, if you feel that was an issue?
  • Did all of these extra factors get added in to your budget?
  • Which activities would you want to do this year?
  • Which activities would your family want to do this year?
  • Which activities do you not want to do this year?
  • Which activities do your family not want to do this year?

Do you start celebrating Christmas with your family by getting all involved in the decorating?

Decorating the house as part of the Christmas celebrating with family

  • Did you get the decorating completed, by when you wanted it done?  Why?
  • Did you feel the decorating was too much?  Too little?
  • How was storing the decorations for you last year?  Does anything need improving/changing?
  • Did any of the decorations get damaged last year when they were brought out?  Why?  How can you make sure that doesn't happen again?
  • Does anything need replacing due to damages?
  • Do you like family helping you out with the Christmas decorating?
  • Were there any Christmas decorations that you didn't have out on display?  Why?

Does celebrating Christmas in your family involve house guests and visitors?

Preparing the guest bedroom if celebrating Christmas with family from away

  • Did your overnight guests request things that were not in the guest room, but they may have needed?
  • Did you try undertaking big house projects during November/December ready for Christmas?
  • Did you have enough space for your decorations?
  • Were there any niggly little issues about your home that bugged you?
  • Were your house management systems efficient (if you have any?)
  • Did you know what was going on, when, or did you find yourself losing track of events occurring?

What can happen is that in an effort to get our house looking the best it can, we start trying to complete projects that are just too big.   Projects that are going to take up too much of our resources, both financial and emotional, when there's already so much going on.  It's those pesky big retailers again.  Making you think you need a new sofa, when actually a throw over it is more than adequate.  Or that the guest bedroom needs new wallpaper and co-ordinating bed linen when it only needs a good clean, and some fresh flowers or a  houseplant!  When you're celebrating Christmas with family staying over, they're going to be too excited to see you, to see whether your wallpaper has been up for 4 years!

Did you find yourself falling into this trap?  Make a note of it here, so that you don't fall into that trap again this year!

Celebrating Christmas with food, all through the Christmas period

Picture of mince pies, just one of the tasty treats that get consumed when celebrating Christmas with family

Christmas isn't just the day itself.  The period for about 10 days leading up to it, during Twixmas and New Year really falls into Christmas, with our eating and spending habits.  And yet, we only consider the meal for the day itself.  

But sadly, there is a tremendous amount of waste that comes from Christmas food.  We overbuy.  Why?  So that we feel that our family isn't lacking?  Buying food that in reality, the household doesn't eat.  Over 270,000 tonnes of food waste happens just during Christmas week.  Is this something you're guilty of?, Do you still have food that is hanging around in your cupboard now?

Take a look at your whole Christmas where the food was concerned to help you see areas where you could get more organised, get more help, or save yourself a little.  Both in terms of finances, and in sanity!

  • Did you use any freezer food during this time?
  • Was there much food wastage in your household?  Why?
  • Was all of the food necessary?  Eaten?  Liked?
  • Do you still have any Christmas food purchases left in the cupboard?
  • Did you do any meal planning at all over the Christmas period?
  • Did you go shopping with a list?
  • Did you find yourself going food shopping whilst hungry?
  • Do others join in with tasks like washing up?  Laying the table?  Why?
  • Was there any last minute dashes to the shops, before Christmas or during Twixmas, for anything that was forgotten?

If any of these points are making you feel a little uncomfortable, think about how you may be able to combat them this year.  Meal planning and lists are a great tool to make sure you've remembered everything, and forseen everything, and by jotting down how many people you're feeding at each meal will help you determine quantity bought.  

Celebrating Christmas with family costs money.

Coins hanging on a Christmas tree.  Keeping track of expenses is a big job when celebrating Christmas with family

There's no getting away from that.  But knowing what is important to you and your family, means you can spend money in those areas, and cut back on that which is no longer important. 

Being aware of your finances helps too, and that is why budgeting and money management are hot topics right now.  By thinking about the true cost of Christmas for you and your family, you can choose where to spend your hard earned cash.

  • What was your budget for Christmas last year?
  • Did you include all of the 'extra' costs of Christmas?
  • What was your actual spend, including all of the 'extra' costs?
  • How do you feel about the amount of money that was spent?
  • Did you have savings put to one side to assist with the extra cost of Christmas?
  • Did you use credit to help towards the cost of Christmas?
  • Was the credit paid back swiftly?
  • Didi you allocate a budget to each different category for Christmas?

The Christmas gift wrap and Christmas cards 

Celebrating Christmas with family through the gifts that we send. Eco friendly wrapped parcels on a table

A sure way of celebrating Christmas with family, either together or with those that live apart is done with the Christmas cards that we send, and the gifts that we give them.  But, are you like I used to be?  Wrapping presents at midnight on Christmas Eve?  Or writing Christmas cards out hurriedly for the class school children the day before the kids break up from school?

  • Was your wrapping done in plenty of time?
  • Did you have enough supplies?
  • Did you give yourself enough time?
  • Did all of the cards actually get delivered/posted?
  • Did all of the presents get delivered/posted on time?
  • Was your wrapping sustainable?
  • How could you introduce an element of sustainability into your card giving and gift wrapping?

The Christmas dinner 

Picture of table laid out.  How can celebrating Christmas with family be made easier with the Christmas dinner

I imagine this area of Christmas celebrating, is second in anxiety only to Christmas gifts.  The volume of articles about trying new Christmas recipes, or about the perfect way to cook a turkey is phenomenal.  We put a huge amount of pressure on ourselves to provide the perfect Christmas Dinner, fuelled by the media surrounding us.  Telling us how we should be doing it.  How we have to change things up.  Is this pressure that we put on ourselves why the cook doesn't let anybody else help? 

But actually, if our family love what we're doing, why do we need to change it?  If you're adept at cooking roast dinners throughout the year, why are you panicking about the Christmas roast dinner?  

Have a quick think about these questions, and see if any apply to your household.

  • Did others help out with the Christmas dinner?  How?
  • How do you find cooking the Christmas dinner?  Why?
  • Do others join in with tasks like washing up?  Laying the table?  Why?
  • How could you make things easier for yourself?
  • How could others' help you out?

Celebrating Christmas with family depends on the family members themselves.

How celebrating Christmas with family goes depends on the people themselves.  Picture of family gathered together

This is a sensitive topic for many families, and by addressing this early, it allows you to come up with some ideas and solutions about how to combat family tensions this Christmas.

If you feel any of the prompts below are issues that cause anxiety and stress at Christmas, make a note of them, and you'll find that identifying them will help you find a solution.  If you can't work any ways around a particular issue that bothers your family dynamics, take a trip to Google.   There's sure to be articles written that could give you ideas about how to handle your particular situation.

  • Does everybody get on?
  • Does everybody contribute, either through tasks, time, financially?
  • How do people staying over work with your family?  Do they contribute to the household in any way?  Helping to lay the table at breakfast, or similar small tasks.
  • Do you have children staying or in the household?  How is their excitement managed?
  • Did you see as much of everybody as you wanted?
  • Were there any major incidents that you don't want repeated?
  • Who gels particularly well together?
  • What skills/talents/qualities do members of the family have that could help?
  • What skills/talents/qualities do members of the family have that could hinder?

Is celebrating Christmas with family in your household a joyous occasion?

These above prompts will hopefully really help you to review last Christmas.  And hopefully, will act as a catalyst for you to really dig deep into what you would like to focus on, and do differently (if anything). Creating your perfect Christmas to celebrate with your family, and not what the big retailers want you to think your perfect Christmas should be.

If you feel there's something that has been missed from this article, drop me a comment down below, and I'll get the blog updated.  

Related articles to Celebrating Christmas with Family:

Image of person budgeting for the True cost of Christmas article  Picture of roast turkey on rustic farmhouse table for the article 10 things you can cook in advance and store in the freezer for Christmas dinner  Picture of open freezer for the blog post 10 Essential Foods to keep in the freezer  Image of woman holding present wrapped in fabric for the eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas article

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  • Annabelle Summerfield
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