News and views on the latest health issues



Get ready for a happy Christmas

Get ready for a happy ChristmasThe run-up to Christmas is always hectic. Shopping for presents, planning parties, organising the family, preparing food and doing the big Christmas food shop are all very time-consuming, so if you’re keen to avoid a last-minute panic, why not make a start now?

Although it can be fun shopping, planning and organising Christmas, it is also very time-consuming. In addition, research shows that, in the UK, shoppers spend more on Christmas than in other European countries, with close to £11.6 billion being spent on gifts alone.

What’s more, according to a poll carried out by supermarket giant Asda, 53 per cent of people end up cooking and eating two Christmas meals as a result of complicated family arrangements; 32 per cent enjoy three or more.

It’s no surprise then that stress tends to rear its ugly head, taking the shine off what should be an enjoyable time of year.

Get prepared emotionally

“Nothing can spoil the magic of Christmas faster than pre-festive burn-out,” says behavioural psychologist Judi James; “the pressure of trying to make everything perfect leads to a kind of festive meltdown, turning shop queues into rugger scrums and the day itself into a nightmare.”

So preparing yourself emotionally is every bit as vital as your shopping list.

Be realistic about what you need and don’t need to do. Your ability to deliver an enjoyable day doesn’t depend on whether you’ve bought one of those designer Christmas puds that you can only get for £50 on Ebay – and don’t feel pressured into trying to make your own Christmas cards or mince pies – the shop-bought ones are great.

Remember to focus on the bigger things and don’t worry about small details, otherwise you’ll spend so long worrying about napkin rings and card trees that you’ll forget to defrost the turkey.

Most of all, don’t wear yourself out. Make time for some rest and relaxation so you can enjoy the day. After all, it is supposed to be a holiday – and fun. 

List, lists and more lists

To help with the practical aspect of bringing everything together for Christmas, lists are a great way of getting organised.

Writing lists helps you work out what you’ve got to do and when, and provides the information in an at-a-glance form. Pin them up where you can see them and focus on how good it feels ticking items off.

Judi suggests listing tasks in order of importance, so that you don’t waste time over the things that don’t really matter. She believes three lists could help solve your Christmas preparation worries:

  • Must Do – a list for all the critical things and crucial purchases
  • Everyday To Do – for day-to-day actions from the ‘Must Do’ list
  • Nice to Have – things you’d like to do or buy but you can do without if you run out of time. 

Your goals for Christmas

If there are specific things you’d like to achieve in time for Christmas, such as fitting into a cocktail dress or cooking something new, then advance preparation gives you time to work on it.

For example, you can set yourself a goal to improve your diet, eat healthily and do more exercise. In just four to six weeks, you could lose a few pounds and fit into your favourite outfit.

If you’re keen to impress guests with your culinary skills, set aside specific times to master a new menu and practise cooking each dish so you’ll be confident on the day – or prepare them in advance and freeze them if possible. 

Top 10 tips for a well-organised Christmas

Here are some more tips from Judi to help you get everything organised in good time for Christmas:

  • Don’t leave gift shopping until the last minute; if you’re unsure what to buy, ask the recipients for ideas
  • Set a budget and stick to it
  • Do your big food shop in one go
  • If you can’t face the queues in store, book an online grocery delivery for a few days before Christmas. If any items are unavailable, you’ve still got time to nip to the shops
  • Make party food in advance and freeze it
  • If family arrangements are complicated, take it in turns each year to entertain and stick to a rota so everyone will be happy
  • Prepare and peel vegetables on Christmas Eve. If feasible, set the table too
  • Don’t push yourself to do everything – delegate tasks and get everyone involved in helping
  • Take a breather, get some fresh air and have time out for yourself
  • Enjoy your celebrations – and get someone else to do the washing up.

If you have any questions about getting ready for Christmas, then you can send a question to our panel of experts.

back to top

Sign up to our monthly Better Health newsletter to receive updates on our latest health and wellbeing updates.

Sign up to newsletter

Ask the expert

Got a question about health or wellbeing?
Our team of medical experts are ready to help.