The Unreliable Guide To… Surviving ChristmasStudies have shown that there is a greater chance of dying on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day than on any other day of the year. This is not due to an excessive consumption of eggnog or a penchant for overly dramatic games of charades; it’s down to stress. Why do so many of us find the Yuletide season so demanding? Who knows? Fear not, though, for the Unreliable Guide has some tips to help you survive the festive season…
1. Don’t overspend – According to the Commonwealth Bank, in 2014 Aussies spent $7.6 billion on Christmas gifts alone. Dealing with the commercialisation of Christmas is hard; it’s the time when all the marketing departments in the world increase their determination to get cash out of your pocket. Except most of us don’t use cash anymore, we just wave our magic credit cards and try not to think about the January bills. Here’s a tip: decide on a budget for Christmas, take that amount out of the ATM and leave your credit cards at home. When the cash is gone, your Christmas shopping is complete. Guilt free.
2. Give and receive gifts gracefully – One in four of us will re-gift an unwanted present this year. Two percent of you will just throw it away and almost a third of us would rather give money to charity than buy gifts. It’s understandable: gift giving and receiving gracefully is tricky. We feel judged by what people choose for us, but we shouldn’t. Pressies are a minefield. We’ve all seen less than enthusiastic responses to our carefully chosen gifts. In 2015 Australians received more than 20 million unwanted gifts, but they were all bought with good intentions. If you get something rubbish, smile, say thank you and hope they’ve included the receipt.
3. Coping with relatives – Relatives are fine at a distance, but extended exposure mixed with too much brandy makes it almost inevitable that something will explode. Christmas Day is like a wedding; everyone has expectations of how it should go. This may lead to disappointment, frustration and arguments. Make a clear schedule so people know when things are going to happen: food, pressies, cricket matches, charades, etc. Don’t forget to factor in some all-important moments of time out, particularly for teens. And most importantly, make sure everyone is aware of your final escape time if you’re visiting or the time they should all bugger off if you’re hosting. There’s nothing as stressful as looking at your watch every five minutes wondering when it’ll all be over.
4. Don’t compensate by overeating/drinking – Do relax and have a couple of glasses of bubbly, do break the diet and have a bit of Christmas cake, but if you go crazy on the food and drink it might just finish you off. Remember, most of the food we eat at Christmas was designed for European winters, not Aussie summers. Have a salad.
Finally, the Unreliable Guide suggests that if you can’t make the effort and be nice to people for one day of the year, just book an overseas holiday and miss the whole shebang.