It’s the most wonderful time of the year...
...the famous festive lyrics proclaim.
But alongside the joy, laughter and twinkling lights, Christmas can bring a high level of stress.
The whirlwind of parties, cooking, decorating and present buying can be tiring and costly. Fraught parents race around during their lunchbreak trying to source the gifts for their children’s stockings, late nights and too many mulled wines leave many feeling tired and little grumpy while anyone hosting a big group of family or friends over Christmas will know that it can turn into a marathon of food, buying prepping and cooking. All this is compounded by the barrage of festive films, songs, adverts and articles which increase the pressure by building unrealistic expectations of a perfect day.
But Christmas does not need to be stressful. It should be a time when everyone simply comes together to relax and enjoy themselves – it is a holiday after all so don’t let the stress take over.
To help ensure a smooth, happy December for all, here are our top tips on a stress-free Christmas.
We’ve all done it – overcommitted, saying yes to every invite from family and friends dotted all over the country and then spent most of Christmas in the car racing from place to place, trying to pacify bored and squabbling children.
Learn from this, you do not have to accept every invitation. Be selective and organise your diary to keep travel to a minimum and factor in downtime. With the family together there is nothing better than staying at home. If you are planning visits, keep them local or arrange one big trip and stick at that. You might find a quieter Christmas is your best one yet.
No-one should feel they must prepare everything - decorations, food, presents and so on – on their own. Draft in the help of family and friends and delegate out tasks so that everyone is involved – that way everything gets done without anyone being overstretched. If you are hosting Christmas lunch, ask one of the guests to bring nibbles, another to bring mince pies and a third to bring the Christmas pudding. If you have the kids rampaging around the house, task them with some decorating. If you are going to be doing most of the cooking, perhaps your partner can sort the Christmas shopping.
If all the Christmas preparation falls to one person, it quickly becomes a burden leaving them worn out by the time the big day comes. When shared, preparing for a magical Christmas is not stressful but fun and festive.
It is a lovely thing to do to handwrite Christmas cards for all your friends but if you are run ragged and lacking time it is also completely unnecessary. There are lots of other options for sending festive love and good wishes to those you care about without spending hours bent over pen and paper. Happy Christmas messages can be sent as texts, whatsapps or emails. If you are determined to send cards, which are admittedly a joy to receive – and can be used as decorations - then you can either share out the writing between all family members or you could pay a company to write and send them for you. No-one will ever know.
There’s lots of sitting around, drinking and eating over Christmas which can leave you feeling a bit lethargic and scratchy. Getting outside for some fresh air and exercise is an instant energy and mood lifter. We all know that exercise helps reduce stress and releases happy hormones so if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the onslaught of Christmas, it is the perfect antidote. Yes of course the weather may not be great but a good trudge in the crisp air will blow away those cobwebs and get you feeling fresh and ready for your next round of festive toasts. At Porlock Weir Hotel, we’re very lucky to be surrounded by the stunning Exmoor countryside, a beautiful coastline and miles of wonderful walks in every direction, making fresh air and exercise a pleasure come rain or shine.
If you are spending Christmas with extended family, partners and assorted friends, the numbers can get quite out of control. Do not fall into the trap of feeling you must all buy presents for everyone attending. Introduce a Secret Santa style game in which everyone buys just one present, and everyone receives one present. This means you can all still enjoy the Christmas tradition of gift giving and unwrapping without everyone being forced to spend more money and time than is reasonable.
Christmas is traditionally the season of excess with endless feasts and fizz flowing freely but that doesn’t mean you have to overdo it. You can eat, drink and be merry while remaining healthy. That way you won’t stagger towards the New Year feeling bloated and hungover. Much traditional festive food is very nutritious – smoked salmon, dark green veggies such as broccoli, spinach and kale, Brussel sprouts, carrots, turkey, satsumas and nuts are just some of the health boosting foods you are likely to enjoy this Christmas. This is not about denying yourself but trying to enjoy a magical Christmas of delicious food and fine wine while avoiding the kind of overindulgence that makes you feel sluggish. Enjoy a healthier Christmas and you’ll be full of energy and festive cheer throughout.
Have you ever thought about taking off over Christmas? Book into a hotel with the family and leave the hard work of decorating and cooking to someone else. You could spend Christmas on the coast with us at Porlock Weir Hotel where we are offering the perfect festive break – a three night dinner, bed and breakfast package including a mouthwatering six course Christmas Day lunch.
Our wonderful team will give you a warm festive welcome, greeting you with mulled wine and mince pies on Christmas Eve before showing you to your beautiful rooms. With no need to spend any time sweating over the oven, you can relax by our log fire surrounded by our coastal themed festive decorations and loved ones.
The Christmas Day lunch has locally sourced dishes to please every palette with four starters to choose from including Porlock Bay oyster thermidor and roast chicken and apricot terrine, piccalilli, focaccia to the classic turkey with all the trimmings and wonderful vegetarian options such as pearl barley risotto, roast shallots, root vegetables and herb dressing. If all that is not enough we will also be serving up a delicious evening buffet.
At Porlock Weir Hotel we can guarantee you a wonderful stress-free Christmas.
Whatever your plans, take some of these stress-free tips on board and you should be guaranteed a very merry Christmas.