Have a Calm Christmas

Shutterstock © A family at Christmas Pic: Shutterstock

Really enjoy the festive period this year…

Each Christmas is as unique as a snowflake, and just like the weather, however much we plan for it, we never quite know how it is going to turn out. Christmas is likely to be much calmer if you can be flexible and fluid with your plans. Create the circumstances you need for a great Christmas, but then try to go with the flow and make the best of whatever unfolds.

Here are some ideas for being a mindful host, to pave the way for a relaxed experience for you and an enjoyable event for your guests.

Top 15 Tips

  1. Consider what single aspect of Christmas your guests might most like to experience. They will be delighted if you include the one element that really matters to them.
  2. Ask for any special dietary requirements or preferences well in advance, as well as any specific daily routines.
  3. Share the load of preparing and cooking. Be specific about what you need your guests to bring or do. Invite them to bring reusable containers so they can take home leftovers.
  4. If someone has had a really hard time this year but might not want to talk about it in front of a large group, you could leave a welcome card on their pillow. On the card, perhaps explain that you are always available for a chat, and that they shouldn’t feel obliged to join in with any activities if they feel uncomfortable.
  5. If you want to steer the conversation in a particular direction or avoid a potentially divisive subject, consider making your intentions known when you send out the invitations. For example, you could invite your guests to “Festive fun and feasting (politics-free zone!)”.
  6. If you have a no-screens policy, tell people well in advance.
  7. Take some time to prepare your guests’ rooms. Think about the little luxuries of a good B&B: a spare blanket, magazines, a jug of water, fresh towels. Perhaps leave a Christmas decoration on their bed along with an invitation to come and hang it on your tree once they have unpacked, to mark the start of the celebrations. Making your guests feel truly welcome, preparing a restful space for them to sleep and letting them know they are not obliged to spend every minute with the whole group, will put them at ease.

    Guest bedroom at Christmas Pic: Shutterstock

    Pic: Shutterstock

  8. Create a small, quiet corner to which you (and your guests) can retreat, even if only for a few minutes.
  9. Take a few deep breaths just before your visitors are due to arrive.
  10. Keep your mood light, and don’t drink too much.
  11. Plan some fun activities: a treasure hunt, board games, pin the nose on the reindeer, a long walk or a festive singsong.
  12. Let people help and try not to fuss.
  13. If you feel anxious, imagine all of your worries as a tangled set of fairy lights. Step back, look at them as separate from you, then imagine untangling them slowly.
  14. The time will go in a flash. Savour it. Make time to talk to people, as well as serve them food and drink.
  15. Any time you start to feel stressed, make yourself a hot drink, close your eyes and feel the shape of the mug as the warmth seeps through your skin and into your bones, up your arms and around your heart. Then take a deep breath and open your eyes.

And then once your guests have left, take a moment to enjoy the lingering good energy of your calm Christmas gathering, and to reflect on all the good in your life this year.

Beth Kempton is the author of Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year: A little book of festive joy (Piatkus, £12.99). Available from Amazon.