Spending this weekend in Hong Kong, it’s amazing to see how this little nation is preparing for the Christmas festivities. Gigantic trees have been decorated, some even with Swarowski, shops have special crafts sessions for children and magazines are showing the latest recipes. Sounds normal? It would be if I still lived in the West and not the Middle East. But for an Asian, non Christian country, it surprised me. The global influence stops nowhere.
Getting into the Christmas spirit can be fun as well as stressful. Your kids may indulge in the chocolate overflow and you’re dreading their sugar crush a little bit later. The price for gifts and parties may leave you with a financial burden, for you to pay off in 2016. Why not make 2015 the Christmas to make small changes rewarding you with a peaceful advent time?
- Decide where you want to celebrate Christmas. Will you cook at home or go out? If cooking at home, think of your menu. Will you make it yourself or get it delivered from one of the many hotels? If going out, book the restaurant plenty in advance.
- Go through your baking supplies. Which ones have passed their expiration date? Throw them out. Do you need to replace them? Then put them on your shopping list.
- Schedule Christmas parties and other engagements into your calendar. If you have younger children, also schedule down time for you to read Christmas stories or watch a Christmas movie at home.
- Set a budget for presents. Keep a tracking list of who’s getting what and how much you’ve already spent. How about a gift exchange where everyone gets one present from the group? It would help to reduce the number of people you’ll need to gift and will keep expenses under control. This will help you not to start 2016 with a huge financial burden. After all, it’s about who’s there with you, not what is there with you at Christmas.
- As you’re getting your house decorated, throw out broken decor or lights. There’s no need to hold on to them. If you’ve quite a bit of other decoration displayed, do you want to temporarily remove it? It will give more focus on your winter decoration and you can store it in the empty boxes.
- If you and your family love wandering across a Christmas market, these will take place in the UAE.
4 December: Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana, Abu Dhabi
9-12 December: Swiss Christmas Market at the Beach Rotana Hotel Abu Dhabi
12 December: Things Yule Like at DUCTAC in Mall of the Emirates, Dubai
17-19 December: Dubai Winter Festival at the World Trade Centre in Dubai
17-27 December: Souk Festive Market at Madinat Jumeirah
- Will you send out Christmas cards and to who? Given the time it takes for overseas mail, an email with some pictures of you and your family would arrive for sure before the Holidays.
- Consider giving your time and experiences instead of a bought present. Watching the latest movie premier, a day diving in Musamdan, an afternoon climbing an indoor rockwall or reading a book out to your kids. Want to make your own presents? These are some DIY gifts with a wow factor.
- Schedule an appointment at your hairdressers.
- If you have children, spend some time doing some crafty project with them. Need some ideas? Check out these cute projects: Crafts and ornaments.
- Set a day aside for baking. If you’re the next Great Baker, check out these recipes. If you don’t feel like baking, what can you order from the shop? Or could you barter a batch of cookies from your friend against one of your talents? It’s a win-win situation.
- Do a 10-minute power clean every day. Put things back to where they belong. Take care of incoming mail and other paper stuff. Empty the rubbish bin. Keep the entrance hall free of excessive shoes and bags.
- Will you have family or friends visit? Check this previous blog post helping you to prepare for their arrival without any stress. Arrange a prepaid pick up from the airport. Have a few activities or tours ready for them, giving you some space during the day or evening.
- Take some time out to reflect on the peaceful meaning of Christmas and meditate. You can do a quick 5-10 minute-long session or if you’re more experienced, dedicate an hour.
- Everyone wants to have their house clean for the holidays. It’s almost impossible to keep the sand out or to keep things in their place if you have children (or a messy partner). You can either accept it or get a cleaner to come in on a more regular basis.
- If you wrap your presents at home, ensure you’ve enough wrapping paper and bows. Put a sticker on the present to remember for who it is. You can use wrapped gifts as decoration.
- Book yourself in for a massage, get a nail treatment or spend a day at the spa. You deserve a break.
- As you’re getting ready to choose your outfit for your celebrations, use this time to unclutter your wardrobe. You don’t have to go through your entire wardrobe. Think of a section like your dresses and start there.
- Share a Christmas memory from your childhood with your children.
- If your kids are getting new toys and clothes for kids, consider donating their old but yet well maintained toys and clothes at a local charity or shelter. Christmas is about giving and it’s an easy way to get your kids involved in charitable activities. Take the clothes you’ve removed from your wardrobe along, too.
- Listen to some Christmas music like the Nutcracker. It’s entertaining for adults and kids alike.
- Double confirm your restaurant booking or your catering for Christmas.
- Do a final check of the ingredients you’ll need for the Christmas dinner. Write down what’s missing. Take this list with you to your supermarket. Don’t kid yourself that you’ll remember everything. Ideally, shop without your family early in the morning when the produce is still fresh and the store is emptier.
- What can you make ahead of the celebrations over the next few days? Don’t just think of the meals and snacks you’ll be serving. Can you set the dining table tonight? Think of other areas in your house. What you can get ready today, will save you energy tomorrow.
My family will arrive just in time for Christmas Eve and I can’t wait for all of us to celebrate together. We’ll have our traditional Christmas Eve dinner just for us and followed by a relaxed brunch at the beach with our friends. It’s just a lovely time to spend with friends and families. I’m wishing you a peaceful advent. Let the Christmas countdown begin!
Until next time,