Christmas holiday survival guide
Christmas should be an exciting yet relaxing time, but for many of us, it can seem more of a marathon than a well-earned break. Here’s some of our top tips for an enjoyable Christmas, drawn from our own experiences. Even family lawyers don’t get life right all the time!
The pressure to create the ‘perfect Christmas’ is immense, fuelled by slick tv adverts of family scenarios that rarely, if ever, exist in real life. So, don’t build your activities for The Day to unrealistic levels. The stress of overblown expectations will tire everyone out and can also put an extra strain on your relationship. Instead, accept that not everything will go entirely to plan, and that nobody will really mind.
TV Xmas myth: Christmas is always snowy
Reality check: We all would love it to snow, but the last year it “officially” snowed on Christmas Day was 2010, and it got nowhere near Reading. However, with the recent snowfalls, the odds are probably falling as fast as the thermometer…
Get out of the kitchen
As a parent, it’s all too easy to spend much of your family Christmas in the kitchen, missing out on the fun stuff. If cooking’s your thing, and you’ve the organisational skills of Michel Roux and the calm of Nigella, great. If not, prep in advance and get everyone in on the act to help. Ask guests to bring something, even just nibbles or dessert, to ease the burden.
If you’re separated or divorced, and don’t have access to the kids all Christmas, why waste precious time slaving at the stove? Start a different tradition and serve the food you and your family love most, or eat out and let someone else do the washing up!
TV Xmas myth: Christmas lunch must contain turkey and sprouts
Reality check: Takeaway service Hungry House estimates that a third of all their partner takeaways will be open on Christmas Day, ready to deliver anything from pepperoni pizzas to Thai curries.
Eat, drink and be merry
It’s tempting to really push the boat out at Christmas and indulge in lots of extra food and plenty of alcohol. Instead, pace yourself, and you’ll have more of an enjoyable time and less of a headache the next day. Make sure you drink enough water and stay hydrated (the central heating will probably be on all day) and yes, that extra mince pie or slice of cake will keep until tomorrow. You’ll feel better and have more energy for the fun stuff,
TV Xmas myth: You need to stock up on sufficient food and alcohol for a six-day siege.
Reality check: You really don’t. The shops are all open again on Boxing Day.
Set a budget
According to the Centre for Retail Research, the average British family will spend £821.25 on gifts, food, drink and decorations for Christmas this year. That’s an increase of 1.3% on last year and considerably more than the European average of £532. Online spending is set to rise much faster, up almost 12% on last year.
Setting a budget for your Christmas spend should ensure you don’t start the new year in major credit card debt, and in financial arguments with your partner when the bills arrive in January. Setting a budget can also help shared parenting families ensure that the cost is spread between the resident and absent parent, and that gift-buying doesn’t spiral into one-upmanship.
TV Xmas myth: Buy online at special prices for cheaper presents
Reality check: Online isn’t always cheaper, and if you have to use a credit card, you need to factor in the interest on the repayments. Martin Lewis at moneysavingexpert.com suggests that waiting can actually yield the best rewards in terms of price reductions.
Be happy at Christmas
Sad to say, not everyone is not happy at Christmas. Some are lonely, some are homeless, and many may go hungry. It’s a time of year when a little kindness really can make a different, so if you are not keen on the season, why not volunteer a little of your time to help a local charity? Reading Voluntary Action (RVA) have lots of opportunities for volunteering at Christmas on their website.
Not everyone in a relationship is happy at Christmas either. Divorce enquiries rise by more than 300% during January, as couples who held off separating for fear of spoiling Christmas start the process of formally ending their marriage.
TV Xmas myth: Everyone is in love (actually) at Christmas
Reality check: Even the iconic film featured a relationship broken by infidelity. If you have already decided to go your separate ways, why not prepare now, and be ready to move forward in January. With the decision made, and the process started, both of you can hopefully enjoy the season more. Call us to arrange an appointment and start the New Year with confidence.