Christmas is constant buying and huge stress about the gifts that are coming more and more expensive year after year. I have seen lots of advertisement about new expensive electronics for Christmas. Many stores are offering loan for Christmas shopping, pay time being next year. All for making the best ever Christmas. What has happened to woolen socks, novels and chocolate boxes?
I think the first step is to know your budget and the difference between a Christmas gift and an investment. Of course one would like to give really expensive gifts to everyone. And I think people would be very pleased. But where is the Christmas spirit when you have to start paying the bills next year? It is nice to plan a bigger investment for Christmas season if you have saved in advance. But I think it should be clear what is an investment and what a normal gift.
It might also be very stressful to come up with gift ideas if you have plenty of gifts to buy. Nowadays when people have lots of stuff it is difficult to figure out what to buy. What I did this year was to give some of my friends little gift in advance instead of a special Christmas gift. I sent a little gift and a card to brighten December days. A nice thought when it is least expected might be more precious than one in a bunch of many at Christmas Eve.
How many of you creative minds have come up with the idea that this year I will make all gifts? In case you really enjoy making and have started early enough to finish all projects this is a great idea. But don´t take pressure of this. A great gift idea is to make a beautiful greeting card and give materials for a project that the person getting the gift can make her/himself.
In the middle of the busiest shopping season a good old don´t buy nothing -day is refreshing. You will save money by staying out of the shopping centers and you get a fresh start to think what are the thighs that are actually needed to make a warm and cozy Christmas celebration.
New Christmas trends every year, how to decorate Christmas 2016 on a budget. It is part of the modern thinking not to waste things that are in perfectly good shape. It is also a trend to mix both old and new elements together. Old decorations are a good base for holiday decor as they bring back memories. Old or thrifted Christmas decorations can also be transformed by paint, yarn or paper. Internet is full of Christmas DIY projects and crafting can be relaxing activity that gets you to Christmassy mood. Remember that all the ideas don´t have to be made this year but you can save ideas for years to come.
One quick way to decorate for the holidays is to buy some festive flowers and mix them with nature materials like moss and branches. Ad some baubles to the arrangement, light a few candles and the work is done.
Some prefer to change Christmas table cloths, curtains and carpets. I would advice to buy pieces that go from year after year for the same purpose or to choose seasonal textiles that go at least through the autumn/ winter season. If you like to make big changes in the home decor every season thrift shops might be best places to shop when thinking economically and ecologically.
Preparing the traditional Christmas menu includes endless hours of cooking and baking plus it comes quite expensive. Traditional Christmas menu is a combination of old and new favorites. Every decade and century has brought it´s own spice to our Christmas table and every year it is nice to try something new. Nowadays different diets (vegan, gluten free..) are also having their influence on the Christmas menu. For example traditional Christmas table in Finland might include some of these: potato casserole, rutabaga casserole, carrot casserole, liver casserole, beetroot salad, mushroom salad, green salad, spiced herring, ham, gravlax, smoked salmon, white fish, dried stockfish, Karelian stew, turkey, rice porridge and plum soup. You get it, quite a lot of food for one or two days!
Good point to begin with would be to make a list of food favorites. What everyone in your family would like to eat during the Christmas season. What are the elements of Christmas? There is no point making something just because it is part of Christmas if no one wants to eat it.
After you have decided the favorites start planning weekly meal plans for whole December. Choose what elements you absolutely want to save for Christmas dinner and what could be transformed into an everyday meal or advent dinner. An example: Rutabaga casserole, mushroom salad and some fish for third advent. Rice porridge with plum soup at Friday evening.
Make smaller portions so you get fresh and good Christmas food every day. Favor vegetarian options and if you like to eat meat prepare little bit of fish or meat. When you eat some of the "Christmas food" in advance and favor veggies you will save both money and time when you don´t have to cook huge amounts for the Christmas table and then think about the everyday meals on December. Also you will have less food waste when you don´t have four casseroles at the same table.
In the middle of everything remember to take time to notice that it is Christmas. For me it is sometimes challenging to sit down and relax as I really love making and preparing Christmas. I think that most adults might enjoy preparing Christmas even more that the actual Christmas Eve with gifts. Last Sunday I took time to just watch silly Christmas movies and lifestyle programs and knit. I didn´t go shopping or do anything productive. It felt so Christmassy to just be and relax. I am going to make time for more this kind of days and evenings.
It is also good to have relaxing everyday activities during the Christmas season and holidays. Simple things like walking and jogging without a rush, reading books and magazines or watching movies or DVD boxes can give a needed pause. There are also some free entrance Christmas concerts, events to sing the most beautiful Christmas carols and markets that are worth going.
During the season you can also think outside of the box and make something nice for your neighbors and passers by. Today I saw an ice lantern on the yard of an apartment building. You could also draw something nice to the snow/ sand, put fairy lights that everyone can see or organize little gift wrapping party for your friends.
Do you have more tips for stress free Christmas season? Please let me hear :)
Merry Monday! And Happy Finland's Independence Day at 6.12.