I always have mixed feelings whenever I hear the first Christmas song for the season—part excitement for the upcoming festivities, part sadness for another year ending, part stress for all the preparations and gift-giving, part nostalgia for childhood Christmases. This year however, I am decidedly more chill about the holidays, and I’d like to think it’s because I’ve finally learned to navigate this madness better. Here are my tips for getting through the December fever in one piece:
- Shop online. If you are one of the unfortunate people who did not buy gifts well ahead of time, forget trying to do that now. It is total mayhem at the malls, with long lines at checkout, frazzled parents looking for toys, stocks flying out of the shelves, kids trying to see Santa Claus, and all that jazz. So preserve your sanity and shop online instead. There are loads of sellers on Facebook and Instagram who make cute, personalized or monogrammed items, or sell unique pieces that you can’t find in stores. They’re ideal for gift-giving, are usually much more affordable, can deliver the presents directly to your door–and in just a few clicks your Christmas list has been crossed off. And the best part is, this way you’re choosing to support small local businesses and entrepreneurs. A word of caution though: do your research and make sure you are buying from a reputable source that won’t run off with your cash!
- Master the art of scheduling. I think most of us get into trouble and a lot more stress by trying to cram too many get-togethers in an unrealistic time frame. You know—the “I have another dinner but I’ll follow right after” types. First of all, double the time you usually allot to get through traffic. Plan your route so you don’t go back and forth from one direction to another. Be prepared to have issues finding parking (or ditch your car altogether and either carpool with a friend or take an Uber or Grab). Schedule a maximum of two things in a day so you have enough time to prepare, get there, and enjoy with friends.
- Hassle-free hosting. If you’re hosting a holiday party at home, try to make it as easy on yourself as possible. Get a caterer, or order the classics from your favorite restaurants. Yes, more costly than cooking things yourself, but it saves you from grocery time (another madhouse this season), cooking time, and other possible disasters. If you really want to show off your culinary prowess, stick to simple, quick recipes or prepare wayyy ahead. As for table settings, get creative instead of excessive. Use clear jars and put Christmas balls in them for example—gets the job done in minimum time and hassle, instead of attempting to arrange and spray paint a bunch of twigs.
- Doll up. This is the best time to invest in treatments that will cut your beautification time in half. For instance, get a keratin treatment and you won’t need to blow out your hair the rest of the holiday season—it will naturally dry in a relaxed, sexy fashion. Get that eyebrow microblading session done (around 2 weeks before all the parties go full swing) so you can show up anywhere with perfect brows already (and we all know how long it takes to create brows on fleek!). Wear Kylie or Colourpop on your lips for hours and hours of matte color without any need for retouch. As for your outfits—make sure you try them on ahead in order to avoid the horrific realization that the dress you were planning to wear no longer fits, or the skirt has a busted zipper, and you have nothing else to put on (as is always the case for us women). Mix and match neutrals, and learn to accessorize to create a festive look without too much effort.
- Easy on the décor. Yes, you want your home to look Christmas-y especially if you have children or are expecting guests to drop in from time to time. But really, resist the urge to go overboard. You do not need to hang up Santa in a hot air balloon. You do not need to go wild with the Christmas lights and potentially cause a fire in your home. You do not need so many cliché’ garlands and fake poinsettias. If anything, home décor has evolved to something a lot more tasteful, sophisticated and highly individual: wreaths with dried citrus fruit and other such quirky things. Christmas trees with ornaments coming from your different travels. Alternative colors to red, green and gold. Or, white linens with decorative green bottles and live poinsettias. Think classy, understated, and elegant instead of over the top, mall-like proportions.
- Keep calm. No matter how crazy things get—like your pie getting burned in the oven, children making a mess, decorations crashing to the floor, gifts not getting delivered on time, running very late due to traffic and parking woes, and so on… always remember the reason for this season and remain grateful. What always helps me de-stress is listening to my favorite Christmas songs on either jazz or Rnb while wrapping presents and thinking of all the friends and family I’ll be seeing. I never skip watching the movie ‘Love Actually’ every single year as soon as December comes around. Sometimes, just for kicks, I still write Santa Claus a note because He always used to give me whatever I wanted (most things I asked for were intangible anyway), and I don’t think He’ll stop now…
- Be kind. This season, while we enjoy all things lavish and extravagant, may we never forget others who do not have the means to celebrate for Christmas, the ones who need to work instead of spending time with their loved ones, the ones who forego their own comfort in service of others. Orphans, soldiers, prisoners, the less fortunate, the elderly, the sick, service workers (especially our own). If there’s a way for you to share some of your blessings with them, please do so. Be the Christmas miracle instead of waiting for one to happen to you.
Wishing you all a bright and beautiful December!