Recipe for an Insta-perfect Christmas (you’re only a proper Instagrammer if you tick at least all of these):
- Start talking about Christmas at the end of August #toosoon?
- Talk about a slow Christmas and how you will be making all your gifts (BTS; pin your life away and spend a fortune on supplies)
- Visit lots of Insta-worthy places and sip mulled wine.
- Buy an Instagrammable Christmas jumper (when you should be buying gifts)
- Spend half of your weekends weekend foraging for foliage to make it look like you’ve not gone to much bother and thrown some ivy together to make a wreath (Insta-perfectly, obvs)
- Make all gifts and photograph them perfectly.
- Have a mild panic attack when you think of how untidy your home might be on Christmas day / the carnage that follows and plot ways to hide Christmas related clutter for photographic purposes (under the floorboards anyone?!
- Don’t enjoy any festivities lest you miss a photo opportunity.
OK. OK. I jest, but I too have fallen foul of trying to create the perfect Christmas – not necessarily for Instagram, but it’s definitely been a factor.
Sometimes in life you come to certain realisations and this year I have decided that I can’t do it this year. I have tried to simplify Christmas before, lured by the natural, beautiful photos of foliage and brown paper packages (incidentally, I will be using brown paper. It’s environmentally friendlier than wrapping paper and cheap as chips!). I thought simplifying meant making E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G from scratch, and as a teacher, a mum, and a normal human being, I find this impossible, unless I start in January, and I just ain’t that person.
But it must be possible to go back to basics? To lose the commercialism without putting myself into a grave marked December 27th?
So I handed over to you guys. What do real people on Instagram think a simple Christmas actually looks like? The response was incredible and I can’t include them all!
Here are the top responses given by you.
- Think about what makes Christmas special. Do those things.
- Think about what makes Christmas stressful. Don’t do those things.
And… That’s it. Blog post done!
OK. It’s not quite that simple but when you break it down, that’s the crux of it. So many of you said you didn’t feel bad anymore saying no to invites that didn’t excite you, or to asking friends and family to visit you rather than tearing round the countryside with children
So, to start again:
- Think about what makes Christmas special and plan those things.
Keep it simple, keep the list small. Ask your kids what they remember from last year (I guarantee they won’t remember many gifts, and as such we don’t buy them as parents, we do a day out instead).
2 Say no to any invites that may overload you and don’t feel bad about it.
You may actually be taking the pressure off others who feel obliged.
3. Think about what you did as a child.
Did you decorate every single room in your house? I doubt it. Christmas of the past meant a tree and maybe a wreath on the door. The pressure to spend on decorations for every room is crazy, and worse since Instagram I think (I love IG, please don’t get me wrong I just think sometimes the pressure can be a bit much for some people).
There’s no need to go nuts on food either – cut your spend by 1/3 and I bet no one will even notice. Less waste too can’t be a bad thing.
4. Traditions don’t have to cost a lot. The key is repetition.
No your children don’t need a Christmas Eve box. If you want to do one then great, but it won’t spoil their Christmas if they don’t have one. A running theme in your responses was repetition. Putting the tree up with the same Christmas music, going to the Christingle every Christmas eve, an annual walk on Christmas day, or a drive around town to see the Christmas lights, the same board games every year with mince pies, reading the same story on Christmas eve or watching the same film.
5. Cut down your gift buying.
Obvious but true. Suggest a secret Santa amongst the adults in your family with a price limit. Do not buy for anyone just because they buy for you, gently suggest that this year you would rather a catch up over a coffee and a mince pie.
6. And the most important one: It doesn’t have to be perfect. It probably won’t be anyway.
Someone will cry or bicker, some of the Christmas dinner will be forgotten or will burn, Uncle Bob will be snoring by the Queen’s speech. But it doesn’t matter. It’s about spending time with people. Take the stress out of the day by having lower expectations. Do Christmas how you and your family want to, not how you think you should.
I hope that’s helped and served as some reassurance. Breathe. Slow down. Look around and enjoy the festive season for the truly important bits. And let me know what your plans for a slower Christmas are.
Finally, here’s my list of what I will be focusing on this year:
- I will make mince pies (but not my own pastry or mincemeat, life is too short).
- I will make some token gifts but only if I have the time and energy. Otherwise people will get said mince pies (sorry for the spoiler friends and family)
- We will go to town and have chips and see the lights as we do every year.
- We will do a secret Santa for adults.
- My favourite day is Christmas Eve. We plan to go for drinks with friends in the afternoon and let the kids run riot with their mates, then home to watch A Muppet Christmas Carol and read The Night before Christmas.
- We will donate to our local foodbank and cut our shopping bill down.
Oh, and I will be throwing myself into the sea on Boxing Day!
Have a wonderful, perfection-free festive season.
(and if you’re joining in, use the hashtag #notquiteperfectchristmas