If you're stressed out because you can't have a Christmas like on all of the TV adverts, please be kind to yourself. No-one has those sorts of Christmas days! They're a fantasy to make you spend all of your earnings on materialistic things that just don't matter.
So here are a few ideas to help you spread the Christmas cheer!
1) Go to Poundland/B&M/Homebargains, Y'know the discount food places and buy all the gravy granules, stuffing, tins of vegetables and chocolate coins that you can afford. You can get plenty for under £5. Then donate this food to your local food bank. Many people simply can't afford to have a proper Christmas dinner and this small act will honestly make someone's day. Tony Robbins recalls the time that someone did this when he was young and look how it affected him.
2) If you have an elderly relative/neighbour/family friend who will be by themselves this Christmas. Bake them some mince pies and write a handmade card. Go and visit them and give them the gift of your time. Ask them about their most memorable Christmas, Who would be their favourite guest at the dinner table? Eat the mince pies and drink tea/mulled wine with them. You will really make their day.
3) If you know a family with kids who are always non-stop and never get a chance to go out, offer to babysit for free one night! You can wear Christmas jumpers, watch Elf and have a good old time whilst the parents can finally get a moment to themselves to do as they please.
4) Volunteer at a charity/organisation that is close to your heart. You could do some dog-walking or kitten-cuddling at your local animal shelter. Litter-pick on the beach! Perhaps offer a helping hand with a community project in your area. You could offer to wrap some presents for your local children's charity as they often have many gift donations that need wrapping! Think about the less fortunate this year and volunteer at a homeless shelter, serving food and chatting is one way to show your humanity to people who have been shunned by society.
5) If you don't have a penny to spend on gifts but still want to give something meaningful, print some 'Christmas Cheques'. Instead of giving a physical gift you can offer to do just about anything:
- Cleaning the Car/House/Garage
- Breakfast In Bed
- DIY Spa Day
- A Spontaneous Day Out
- Movie Night
- Massages ;)
Think of a talent that you have and share it with others. Even helping with fairly simple yet time-consuming things like listing things on eBay or sorting out that old PC would be a big hand for a technophobe.
There is a free template here, or if you're a whizz on Photoshop then you could make some personalised ones which would be even better!
Yeah, I know this is a list for if you're super broke but even something as simple as paying for a stranger's coffee in Costa or buying a random scratchcard and leaving it somewhere with a little note is a fun thing to do! It'll cost a couple of quid and you can feel that warm, fuzzy feeling inside. If you want some inspiration watch the Pay It Forward film.
7) Have a creative crafty day with your family, even if you're artistic skills are practically non-existent! Everyone can decoupage or paint something abstract. Put on Kirstie's Handmade Christmas in the background and make some silly decorations for the Christmas table or some paper snowflake garlands. Cheap and cheerful and you can enjoy a being inside on a cosy winter's evening.
8) Decide to do Secret Santa if you have a large family, this way you can set a budget and get something that they might actually want instead of trying to spread yourself so thin that everyone gets's something just for the sake of it. Drawnames is a great website that does all the hard work for you and they can add a little list of things that they might want, perfect if you're a gift overthinker!
9) Organise a 'Festive Indoor Treasure Hunt' if you have younger siblings or cousins. This could be a fun activity on the big day itself! You just need to write a few clues and hide them around the house and then the treasure can be some chocolate coins. I remember my auntie doing this when my brother and I went to visit her and it was so amazing! This was before computers were a thing, so she had written the clues and personalised them for her home. You can print off some indoor clues if you're a little short on time!
10) Make sure you send thank you notes to everyone who got you a gift, not just e-cards either, a proper handwritten note saying how much you loved the gift. Especially nice for older relatives but make a habit of noting down who got what and sending a card, even if it was a box of chocolates!
11) If you're in any way sporty why not run/jump/skip/swim/hula-hoop for a good cause. Anything from raising money for equipment at a school, blankets for the animal shelter or helping raise funds for a wheelchair for someone in need. The opportunities are endless!
12) If you've experienced some great service this year from your smiley barista, helpful supermarket assistant, or anyone who works in the retail/customer service industry. Make sure you take their name and write a quick email to the company praising them. It takes minutes and the person that receives the compliment will have their day made. Working in retail is tough over the festive period and some anonymous encouragement really goes a long way! Same for local independent business, a glowing Trip Advisor review really helps small business!
13) Struggling for a sentimental gift? Print off one of your family's favourite photos and put in a frame. So many of us have hoards of snaps on our phones but rarely do anything with them! You can pick up a cheap frame from the pound shop and customise it if you're feeling creative.
14) If you have literally no money but still want to give a sincere gift, how about writing someone a heartfelt letter? Barely anyone takes the time to write with an old-fashioned pen and paper anymore. It's always so lovely to receive a letter in the post amongst bills and junk mail.
It is especially wonderful if you've not seen that person as much as you should've lately. Write a pact that you'll promise to see them more, share your favourite memory together or write them a list of stuff you admire about them! Christmas can really be a tough time for some and an unexpected piece of snail mail really brings out the feels! For the sake of 55p for a second-class stamp, it is so worth it :)
15) Instead of lounging in front of the TV when you get back in from work, go on a Christmas lights hunt! Wrap up in your warmest things, take the dog (borrow a dog!) and go on the search for the best festive house in your area. The local vet close-by always has a ridiculous display of Christmas lights, you can see it for miles around. So we usually go for a wander up and donate some money to the NSPCC who they fundraise for.
17) If you're feeling like 2016 hasn't been the best year for you, I recommend reading Gala's post '10 Questions To Ask Yourself To End 2016 Feeling Positive & Powerful' here
Take an evening to yourself, find a notebook and spend a couple of hours evaluating the past year and what you want from 2017.
Sometimes at this time of year when you're thinking about everyone else, you just have to take some time out for yourself. Light a candle, put some relaxing music on, turn off your phone and journal to your heart's content.
18) It's ok to say 'no'. This bit of advice was difficult for me at first. I always like to make the effort to see everyone and do everything. In December that just isn't possible. All the invites, get-togethers, work do's, Christmas markets, ooh and the festive vintage fair will fill up every spare evening/weekend. If you do it all you're going to end up burnt out, penniless and cursing the fact that you are such a social butterfly! Why do you think so many people get ill around this time of year? Too much on their plate and all the extra stress that comes with trying to live up the 'perfect' Christmas.
I know it's really difficult at first, I've been there, I used to make up elaborate excuses but it's ok to say 'I'm sorry I can't make it, I've got too much on.' No-one will hate you I promise. Have a read of this, How To Say 'No' To People You Can't Say No To!'
After backpacking for three months (...on my gap yah...) I'm glad to be back for Christmas festivities! I just have a collective feeling that this year everyone seems to be more stressed about Christmas than usual! Anyone else feeling this way?
I really hope these ideas have helped you get rid of the inner grinch and think of Christmas time in a slightly different way.
What is your favourite Christmas 'tradition' ?
Thanks for reading :)