Christmas: Make It Yourself, But Don’t Make It Hard On Yourself
I love Christmas and have always started thinking about it when most people are only thinking about flip flops and sun cream. These days, because of Vintage Folly and Modern Vintage Magazine, it’s perfectly normal, (infact it’s probably expected) that I’ll be thinking of Christmas many months ahead. Finally my obsession with Yuletide is no longer weird!
Christmas is the one time of year when even the terminally ‘un-creative’ amongst us, try their hand at making things from scratch. Men and women who, for the other 11 months of the year feel perfectly accomplished for having juggled, jobs, homes and goodness knows what else, suddenly put pressure on themselves to become masters of craft, cooking and entertaining aswell.
I’m certainly guilty of it. Most Christmases I don’t get to bed until the early hours of the morning on the 25th. I sit up for hours wrapping presents and mending our ‘injured’ tree decorations…….and then I chop the veg, I prepare the turkey, I wrap endless sausages in bacon, I give the dog a talking to for chewing on my hand made fir cone garland, I bake last minute batches of mince pies
with that mincemeat that has been sat there for weeks waiting to be used, I tip toe outside with the rubbish, I discover the Christmas gift that Beth and I made for her teacher, you know, the one she was supposed to have taken to school last week, I feel bad because the carpet is a disgrace; it needs hovering and it’s definitely too late to make all that noise, I consider whether I should make my ‘rustic’ stuffing now or first thing, I consider all the time I’ve wasted ‘half making’ handmade gifts, I remember EVERY SINGLE THING that I’ve forgotten to do and then I look around my home and wonder why it doesn’t feel as warm and fuzzy as it might look in pictures.
Last Christmas I realised why…it’s because I’m exhausted. I can’t possibly enjoy my lovely home, Christmas Day’s lavish meal or precious family time, because I’ve piled so much pressure on myself that it’s all a become a chore. I’ve over committed the magic out of Christmas!
I’m sure that there are so many people who do the same. Why do we do it to ourselves?
I thought about my Yuletide epiphany in early July when I was invited to celebrate Christmas, with Tesco at the beautiful Westbury Hotel In London.
London? Christmas? Beautiful Hotel?….Hmm I might have to think about that…NOT! So I travelled down to the big smoke and stepped out of the scorching hot sunshine into a beautiful Winter Wonderland.
Tesco had created a number of zones for us to look at, showcasing food, gifts and decorating ideas. There was so much to see, from the meringue Christmas trees to the baubles and biscuits (yes biscuits) hanging from the ceiling. Cute little woodland animals peeped from behind buttons and fir cones and joints of meat fit for a palatial banquet sat amongst tarts, roulades and brownies. It was beautiful. But if I’m honest, my heart sank.
It sank because I am basically addicted to making life difficult for myself. I looked around and saw ideas, things that I could make from scratch, customise, experiment with…..I saw things that I would probably add to my ‘to do‘ list. Surely Tesco’s ‘ready made’ ideas and ‘hand made looking’ gifts and decorations went against my own idea of Christmas?
Chatting to a lady about ready baked pastry cases, chutneys and pickles, something struck me.
“I call this ‘presentation ready packaging’” she said. “If you’re anything like me, you probably decant all of your condiments into nice bowls before bringing them to the table?”
Yes, yes I do.
“Well that might only take a minute, but it’s a minute that you could be doing something else, plus then there’s the washing up of those pretty bowls and the fact that anything left in them will probably be thrown away and wasted.”
“Well, with these products, you don’t have any of that. You just bring them to the table, no decanting and they’re so pretty that you could get a couple of each and they’d look lovely wrapped up as an emergency Christmas present. It’s just a tiny little short cut but if you find a few short cuts that you’re happy to make, they’ll add up to hours of extra time to do the things that really matter.”
Cue alarm bells ringing, lightbulbs blinking to life and really loud ‘ping’ noises.
It’s not cheating, it’s not failing….it’s prioritising.
What matters more? Whether the eau deufs I serve guests aren’t made entirely by my own fair hands or whether I have time to decorate gingerbread men with Beth? Whether some of the ‘hand made’ looking Christmas decorations might actually be hand made by Tesco or whether we make it to the local carol service? Whether every Tom, Dick and Harry (who let them in anyway?!) gets lovingly wrapped but store bought gifts or whether I get to bed before midnight on Christmas Eve?
I’m not saying that you should turn your back on the hand crafted Christmas of your dreams (I’m certainly not prepared to), I’m saying….make it yourself, but just don’t make it hard on yourself.
I suppose it’s all about prioritizing. For example this year I’ve decided that I want to be ready to party when my guests arrive over Christmas, not still trying to do the washing up, with only half styled hair and my slippers on. So aswell as a few of my favourite home cooked dishes, I’m actually going to serve some pre-prepared food.
Yes you read that correctly.
No it isn’t selling out, it’s cutting myself some slack and valuing time with friends and family above the kudos that comes from making everything from scratch. Some of our homemade gifts will come from the incredible kits that will be available this Christmas, such as the chocolate truffle kit or they’ll be part hand made and part store bought, maybe some delicious cheeses with a jar of homemade pickle.
I’m not sure I’m ready to give up the preparation of my precious Christmas turkey (there’s a limit to how much Christmas control I’m prepared to give up) but I’ll be honest, some of their offerings offerings really, really tempted me!!!
Do you fancy joining me in a more relaxed, enjoyable Christmas? How are you going to prioritise things so that you get a break this Christmas?
PS. Just incase Father Christmas is reading this…I’ve put this on my Christmas list and have no intentions of trying to ‘make it myself’!
**This post is part of the BritMums project with Tesco**