Any and every book, magazine or blogseries focusing on Christmas should have ‘Plan Well’ as the first chapter. Christmas is a weird festival. We place so much faith in one day a year as a day of happiness, wonder, joy, love and so much more besides and yet we forget that the happiness, wonder and joy we feel afterwards is just as necessary.
Especially this year with the Coronavirus Pandemic making any future planning seem impossible, planning well becomes more important, as we’ll need to be prepared for every eventuality and ready to alter, postpone, hold or create plans at a moments notice. We will, simultaneously, have to plan for everything we want to do and have back up plans in case.
It’s no use having The Best Christmas Ever if we know that, come January, we will be quivering at the sight of That Letter or That Email from the Bank or Credit Card company. No Christmas, however perfect and once in a lifetime, is worth getting into debt for. The first day of December quite likely is too late to start for this year, but it’s a good time to start for next year. Start taking notice of which activities this year have yielded the most bang for the bucks: which parts of the celebration that cost nothing except time or energy were good enough and, conversely, which expensive once-in-a-lifetime moments failed to live up to expectations. Keep a record of them, in a place you’ll find early next year, like July or August and be able to turn to as evidence that spending X on a personal Zoom call for 10 minutes was not as much value as visiting Y for free.
And for this year, look back on past Christmases and see if you can identify the moments of most pleasure that didn’t cost the Earth, either literally or metaphorically. Hygge is about finding maximum pleasure in minimal circumstances. That mug of coffee sipped by candlelight early Christmas Eve, the walk to feed the ducks on an Advent Sunday afternoon followed by hot chocolate and ginger biscuits or the walk after school on the last day of term as the sun sets and the Christmas lights come on in the houses that you pass. Identify them, and record them. To a certain extent, you’ll never be able to repeat the moment, but you will be able to create an atmosphere conducive to recreating them: relaxed family time, the presence of good food or drink, perhaps a sprinkling of Christmas magic. Have a list of quick and easy moments of joy to pull out like a magician’s rabbit when the family spirits look in danger of drooping.
And lower your expectations. Not every moment in the whole Christmas season is about joy and happiness. Especially if you’ve suffered loss during 2020, taking a few moments to admit your sorrow and grief is valuable. You accept your negative emotions, sit with them for a few minutes, and then feel able to lay them aside.
Make a commitment to yourself that this is the last year Christmas will catch you out and have you racing to pay for everything on credit cards. If you don’t or can’t pay off your balance every month, then credit card debt is the easiest way to make everything cost more. Calculate the price of Christmas, presents, food, outings and all, and divide by 10. That’s the amount you need to put aside every month, except for the two when you go on holiday, when that money will go towards your break. Working out the annual cost of something and splitting it into monthly amounts is a good way to make sure that you can save and afford it. Plan. Plan. Plan. After all, even at Christmas, failing to plan is planning to fail.
Daily Reading: Create a Christmas Budget. This article includes a useful budget printable.
Daily Book: Your Money or Your Life by Vicky Robin and Joe Dominguez. Not specifically a Christmas book, but still the best at helping you build a link between the money you spend and the life hours you use earning it. I reread it regularly (I’m due another read this January) and working out how long it takes you to earn the smallest little extra is eye opening.
Self Care Act For The Day: Put a large value note away in a coat pocket or purse that you sometimes use. £20 is good, but £10 will do. It does nothing for you at the moment, but in six to twelve months when you find the note (you have to forget all about it in the meantime) you will have a pleasant feeling at an unexpected windfall. And for the present, treat yourself to a coffee everyday by making it at home and putting the value of the beverage or just £1 or 50p each time into a jar. Spend it when the month is through, or whenever you’re ready to, on something good for you.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted or bought by me with my everyday wages.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
A Self Care Christmas: A short ebook on keeping Christmas simple and making sure it doesn’t overwhelm.
Celebrating a Contagious Christmas: Available in ebook and paperback, it’s about making this year a festival of Hope.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little rhings in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas, however we get to celebrate it this year, and a Happy, Healthy and Simple New Year.