Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Three Top Tips For A Happy Holiday

Think back - when you were little, what are the things you most remember about this time of year? As well as the toys and sweets, anticipation was always such a big thing. Waiting to take part in the school play, then for the school term to finish, finally opening the last door on the advent calendar and then waiting for Santa to arrive - the time crawled by, without a thought for the supporting cast. Now you're all grown up and likely to be the one doing the hard work, there never seems to be enough hours in a day to get everything done.  This is always going to be a hectic time, but here are a few ideas for making it a bit less painful...
1. PRIORITISE:  Getting the whole family around the table is a major undertaking. Forget about being a martyr - if anyone asks if you want help, accept their offer. Even if it's just taking care of the children for half an hour, it's one thing less for you to worry about. Guests could bring-and-share a pudding or some snacks, and that will help reduce the pressure. If you're cooking for a bigger number of people than usual, don't feel you have to do all the catering yourself. Even if you love cooking, there's so much meeting and greeting to be done, try and find some shortcuts. Good quality ready-made pastry is almost indistinguishable from home made, and if you prepare as much as you can ahead of time (prepping the vegetables and making a chilled dessert, for instance) it'll reduce the stress on the day.
2. HAVE A PLAN B: Take nobody's word for it. If you're lucky enough to buy your Christmas in a box from some grand department store like Harrods, double check delivery times and dates to make sure it arrives when you want it, and have contact numbers on hand in the unlikely event it doesn't. If you're spending Christmas out of town, make sure there's a generator in case the power fails at a critical moment (that's happened here more than once). As insurance, make sure you've got a little something that won't need cooking, fresh fruit, some good cheese, decent crackers - and plenty of chocolate, of course!
3. REHEARSE YOUR SMILE: When everything goes to plan, it'll be the perfect finishing touch. If there are a few wobbles in your perfect holiday, remember it could be worse. Have another bit of cake and tell yourself this was only a trial run. There's always next year.
Finally, if it all gets too much, a look through this list will really restore your faith in human nature - 
What's your best Christmas memory? There's a signed book from my backlist on offer to a comment picked at random - and my sincere wishes for a peaceful, happy holiday for you all.

Christina Hollis has written both Historical fiction and Modern Romance/Presents for Harlequin Mills and Boon Ltd, as well non-fiction for national magazines and prize-winning short stories. Her current release, Lady Rascal is available for download from  AmazoniTunes  and many other retailers, while her next book,  Changing Fortunes, will be published in early 2013. She loves to hear from readers - you can contact her through her website or her blog.


Laney4 said...

I didn't get to act like a child for much of my childhood (as the first 4.5 years were spent in a hospital and the subsequent years were spent being told, "No, you can't do that!"), so my best Christmas memory would be when I was 16 or 17. That's when my mom finally let me go visit a good friend on Christmas Day (to go toboganning for a couple of hours), rather than staying at home the entire time with her siblings (who were all, including my parents, 40 to 64 years older than I).

Pat Cochran said...

I have a mix of memories from over the
years: the last years when Mother and
Mother-in-law were with us, the child-
ren, big eyes shining, as they opened
gifts, and now watching the grandkids
sing "Happy Birthday" to Baby Jesus
and blowing out the candle on a cake!

Pat C.

Christina Hollis said...

Laney, I'll bet you had such a great time when you were finally "let off the leash" it was as though all your Christmases had come at once! Thanks for commenting, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Pat, thanks for commenting. It's a lovely idea to have birthday candles on the Christmas cake - I'm going to suggest that to my sister, who runs a Sunday school. Her young triplets will love it, too! Here's wishing you and your family a peaceful, happy Christmas.

Christina Hollis said...

Oh, and I forgot to credit the little Christmas tree in the top picture. It stands in the office of the ballet school my son attends.

Jeanne M said...

My fondest Christmas memories from my childhood are my father reading Twas The Night Before Christmas, finding a candy cane and Hersey bar in my stocking and most of all a book covered by wrapping paper and a big red bow under the tree!

My favorite was the book and a tree and my husband and I have carried out the tradition of exchanging gifts of books for the past 42 years and it still my favorite gift to receive!

Mary Preston said...

I always loved going out with my Father to choose a Christmas tree. We would head out in the car. There are several areas where young pine grow near the road. My Father would park the car & we would crawl through the fence. My Father had the axe in hand. He was fussy about the size & shape, so this took a while. Taking the tree back home IN the car was quite a feat.

Christina Hollis said...

Thanks for commenting, Jeanne - I used to squeeze all my presents and open the soft ones first, because the book-shaped gifts were special treats, put aside to be savoured. I hope there's still candy canes and chocolates on your tree, too!

Christina Hollis said...

Thanks for commenting, Mary. That must have been so exciting - and the lovely smell of pine must always take you right back to those happy tree-hunting days!

Christina Hollis said...

I've just drawn Mary's name as winner of the signed book. Congratulations, Mary! Please drop me a line with your snail mail address to: christinahollis(at)hotmail(dot)com, replacing the words in brackets as usual.
Thank you to everyone who dropped by. I'm already looking forward to blogging in 2013, and wish you all a happy holiday season, and a peaceful New Year.

Mary Preston said...

THANK YOU!! Email on the way.