Homely Christmas Harmony
You’ve got three people sleeping in your spare room, two on the sofa bed in the lounge, kids (and their stuff) everywhere you look and dinner for 13 to prepare by 1pm. It can only be Christmas! Our usual restful homes can become places we hardly recognise in the festive season as friends and family surge through the doors with armfuls of gifts and heaps of expectations. Here are our 5 expert tips on creating harmony in your home this Christmas.
- Just breathe. If your to-do list is off the scale and your home is looking more Grinch’s lair than Christmas light festooned Griswold Family Home, then you can start to feel overwhelmed. Hypnotherapist and NLP Practitioner Lizzie Falconer, founder of Beautiful Thinking advises: “Firstly, breathe! Remember that it’s meant to be the season for families and friends to get together. Consider the end game is to just create some happy moments that will become happy memories. Make lists and stick to them, so you are completely organised and try not to leave things till the last minute. But if something is forgotten or missed, remember the world isn’t going to go into a holding pattern. I use a mantra regularly, ‘Does it matter, does it really matter?’ Keep repeating this when you find yourself fretting and getting anxious!”
- Tackle the guest room. Chances are you’ll have guests staying over Christmas, and they probably don’t want to be sleeping in a spare room that has more in common with the local tip than the local boutique hotel. Lifestyle Coach and Interior Designer Kiran Singh of Design The Lifestyle You Desire advises: “It is actually surprisingly easy to kit out your spare room in a style worthy of the people you like enough to put up for the night! Get rid of any outdated wallpaper or anything else that you wouldn’t happily have in other areas of your home, add a lick of paint and update the bedding to something neutral. If you’re crazy enough to have house guests for more than a couple of days, storage is important. You don’t want your guests to be tripping over their suitcases if you can help it.” A Hanging Rail in an alcove or some Shelves would surely be appreciated!
- Self-care. With all the Christmas preparations, it can be easy to forget to look after your own wellbeing. Lizzie Falconer says: “Self-care is so important, obviously the food and booze may be flowing, but try to pace yourself with plenty of water and fresh fruit and vegetables over the holiday period. Your body and mind will thank you for it, and you won’t feel so dehydrated and exhausted. We humans aren’t good at being in confined spaces for too long, especially with people we don’t normally live with! Try to take a walk every day during the Christmas period, and preferably in the morning when you get some sunlight. The exercise and vitamin D will help you to clear your head and lift your mood, and if you can persuade your family and guests to do the same – even better!” TV Behaviour Expert Richard Daniel Curtis agrees: “As an introvert, at family gatherings I often find a way of spending a few minutes alone every so often to recharge myself.”
- Look after the children. If you’re not used to having children over, then neither you nor your home is likely to be prepared. Noel Janis-Norton, parenting author, speaker and coach, and the Director of Calmer Parenting says: “There is a lot you can do to help visiting children feel comfortable in your home. Sit down with all the children over the age of three and explain what will be happening, children are calmer when they know what to expect. Explain about mealtimes, house rules and where they can and can’t play. Remember that less is more when it comes to outings, and at home projects are often more relaxing, fun and meaningful, not to mention cheaper! Arrange some activities like board games or card games.” A Storage Box stuffed with family favourite games like monopoly, snakes and ladders and snap help children to feel involved and stave off boredom (and meltdowns!).
- The essential perspective. With less than four weeks to go until the big day, there’s just time for one final piece of advice from Lizzie Falconer: “It’s all about perspective – how you approach this time. Make time for you with a 20 minute meditation, and if others are being tricky either walk away, or remind yourself it’s not for long. When my children were growing up, despite all the noise, mess and chaos, I would stop and remind myself, ‘One day, I am going to miss all of this, and wish it back’. Live in that very moment, it doesn’t last forever.”