"I really do hope and pray that the following tips and ideas will help to ease what at times seems an overwhelming even ‘humbug’ lead up to what at our very hearts we all want to have – an amazing, joyful, celebration, minimum stress free, organized chaos Christmas Day."

Hi everyone – my name is Avis Owen and I have “OCD”…. ‘Obsessive Christmas Disorder’.
LOL I have had it for as long as I can remember! My first memories come from about the age of 4yrs so at 57yrs I have been in this happy state for a very long time!

However, with this wonderful state comes many years of prep, planning, experimenting, budgeting, team work, creativity, fun, mess, blessing and bliss and I so hope that I have many more years to ‘play’ yet.

Christmas for our family collectively, past, present and into the future has been about 80% ‘home grown’ and 20% ‘other’, meaning that we have created, made or grown etc. from scratch, 80% of what has made up our Christmas celebration and brought the other 20% always with the golden rule that no debt will be entered into. Although one year we did ‘grow’ our own turkey along with the hams so that year we gave ourselves an extra pat on the back!

So with all this rambling in mind I really do hope and pray that the following tips and ideas will help to ease what at times seems an overwhelming even ‘humbug’ lead up to what at our very hearts we all want to have – an amazing, joyful, celebration, minimum stress free, organized chaos Christmas Day.

Take heart people, it can be yours I promise!!!

Number 1: prep and planning!!
Lists will become your friends!

  • Begin as early as you possibly can in the New Year to set a budget – and stick to it!! This includes but is not limited to: food/presents/decorations/postage/travel/holidays/emergencies/Store cupboard stock up items/crafts etc.
  • Create the list for each budget and then set your amount accordingly. It’s helpful to work out rough menus also including all beverages/food and extras – just write everything down that comes to mind and then you can suss out what you want to make and or create yourself and what you will need to buy in. Look on the internet, visit the library, pour over your recipe books for inspiration and ideas. From there you can do a ‘shopping’ list/prep list for the year and the weeks leading up to the big day and this will help you set your budget.
  • Look seriously at supermarket/department store Christmas clubs or setting up a separate bank account just for Christmas – easy to do on internet banking and you will be surprised how many places actually do Christmas Clubs – including butchers!
  • Laybys are also an amazing way to keep the budget in check and again heaps of business now do them – it does not have to just be for the presents you could layby special dinner ware, linen, decorations etc etc as well!
  • Keep your lists in an exercise book, somewhere close by so that you can check, revise, tick off and make notes as the year progresses.
  • Make/buy to the season – e.g. jams December through till end of March, crafts throughout the year, start Christmas baking preparation in September/October and do a wee bit each week. A fantastic way to slash the stress!
  • Shop the specials leading up to Christmas and if possible build up a ‘store’ cupboard so that over the School holidays especially you have a bit of a buffer with those hungry tummies!

Number 2: Delegate and include others.
Share the load and the fun!

  • Include the children no matter how old, and the rest of the family for that matter! Eg: If wanting fresh veg for Christmas get a garden going – no matter how small or big, be it tubs, tires, buckets, raised beds or dug over lawn – spuds, peas, carrots, heaps of salad greens, tomatoes etc all will be awesome to enjoy fresh home grown and fun for the family to plan, create and tend. If you don’t have the space see if a neighbor or another family member/friend does and do a joint effort with them. Kids love being in the kitchen and creating so always include them as much as possible – even with the planning. Seriously you may be surprised how much ‘buy in’ they actually want!
  • Don’t hesitate to share around the cooking and creating for your Christmas meal and set a limit for presents early or maybe look at a present swap/secret Santa option. It's ok to have the discussions early on in the year – preparation is way better than cure!
  • Work to your strengths – ask for help, barter, share a skill/talent or ability – ie: swapping out your lovely home baking for someone to come and wash your windows before Christmas, or babysit while you go shopping…………..again delegation really is your friend!
  • Baking or creating days with friends and family are a neat way to get through your list and have a heap of fun at the same time!! Crank up the Christmas music and suss out who is doing what and then at the end of the day share the spoils!

Number 3: Breath and relax!!
Its ok to ‘stop and smell the roses’

  • It’s ok to say ‘no’ and set the boundaries – busy people are always the ones that others call upon for help LOL! And as the end of the year creeps up suddenly the yells for help can get very loud so.. do as much as you can, when you, can but not to the point that your own ‘stuff’ gets put aside, you get stressed, tired and lose your joy. You are entitled to have a wonderful Christmas too!!
  • Put “me time” in your prep and planning at least once a week from October, whatever that looks like and for however long it may be. Don’t think about, or talk about it – DO IT!! You won’t only love yourself for it so will your family LOL!
  • After Christmas and New Year feel free to give yourself permission to ‘let go’ what didn’t work that year and try something new – that’s how family traditions are made and enjoyed throughout the years.

So from my kitchen, the heart (for sure) of my home, to yours… much blessing, much joy, much peace and have an awesome and amazing Christmas – oh and just cos you can…"misbehave a little and do me proud”.

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