By Julie-Ann Sherlock 

Love it or hate it, the holiday season is here. I am a massive fan of Christmas. I get swept away by the excitement of shopping for the perfect gift, planning elaborate menus, and organising family parties. I love all the twinkly lights and beautifully decorated Christmas trees. 

Yes, it IS the most wonderful time of the year. Well, for me, anyway. 

My mother and sister are the same. After Halloween, the countdown begins in earnest. We start to plan where everyone will sleep when they descend on the family home en masse; we plan meals, with, of course, a focus on the big dinner on the day itself. 

We are three Christmas crazy chicks. 

But, it’s not this way for everyone. It can be a lonely time for many, particularly those not close to their family. It can be exhausting, mentally and physically, even for those of us who are self-confessed Christmasholics.

So how do you avoid drowning in holiday spirit and end up drained? Don’t be a cotton-headed ninny-muggins (yes, Elf is my FAVOURITE movie) and follow my advice on how to enjoy the season to be jolly without losing your mind.

Relax, Breathe And Enjoy

Before the shenanigans truly begin and you get tied up in tinsel, make a plan for a few calm days to escape it all. My mum, sister, and I plan an overnight stay in a hotel with some shopping, a nice dinner and some relaxing drinks as part of our build-up to the big day. It gives us quality time together so we can mentally prepare for the mayhem. 

By taking this pause to spend time with two of the most important people in my life, I get to build up my stamina for the fun and frolics. This quiet time of chatting, laughing, and planning leaves us energised and ready to roll!

If getting away somewhere is impossible, take a duvet day with some seasonal movies and relax.

Make Magical Plans

By formulating plans early and writing lists of tasks that need to be done, you can take more control over the chaos. I write lists of who I need to buy gifts for and start buying them months in advance. If I am ordering something online, I place my order early to avoid panicking about it not arriving on time. 

Unless you are mega-rich, setting a budget is a must. Whether it is a $10 or $500 per gift limit, figure out how much you can afford to spend, break it down into where that money should go and stick to it. 

It is always tempting to overspend, and sure, if there is a little extra in the kitty when you have the main things covered, then you can splurge if you like. But, getting into debt or leaving yourself with nothing in the days after the holidays will only lead to stress and anxiety. It is meant to be a happy time, and being with family or friends is what is truly important, not how much money you spend. 

If you can, buy some gifts in advance and stock up on non-perishable things you will need during the festivities. This will free up the last few days for picking up final bits and pieces and fresh food and take some of the pressure off. I pretty much shop all year round, picking up little gifts when I see them, creating a treasure trove ready to go when gifting time arrives. 

We usually buy essentials (like extra toilet paper!) in November and add things like an extra tub of mustard or some snacks or soft drinks each time we shop to build the stockpile so that it is not an overwhelming task in the final days. 

On The First Day Of Christmas…

The holiday season arrives for some with a whirlwind of parties and social gatherings that even the most extrovert amongst us can find overwhelming. We are not always able to attend every cocktail party, fancy dinner or 12 pubs of Christmas. Sometimes I wish I could clone myself so I can show up at every party. But, unfortunately, that is not an option. 

I have learned to say no to some invites or only show my face for a short while. I also tell my friends that I am unavailable from Christmas Eve until St Stephen’s Day (the day after Christmas) as this is strictly family time. 

Even though I pretty much live for the magical time I spend with my family over the holidays, I still need some downtime. I take breaks for a long hot bath or some quiet reading time in my bed to help keep my batteries charged. This allows me to channel my energy to indulge in my favourite thing about Christmas; catching up with my family while playing board games, telling wild stories and toasting another year well lived.