5 Ways to Not stress this Christmas

5 ways to not stress this christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year….. or is it?  Sometimes it’s cookie making on steroids and the only time of year that you have to listen to the same songs all day every day with only gingerbread lattes and mulled wine to get you through.

But then add a couple extra family members and it can all get a bit hectic.  There’s meals to plan, schedules to compare and presents to buy.  Add in all the nativities, Christmas parties and special church events and you’ve fit an entire years worth of socialising into one month.

Here’s a few things I’ve been reflecting on that help me enjoy the best of Christmas.

1. Don’t cook turkey

This may seem strange and go completely against your Christmas tradition, but honestly it is the most difficult and time consuming meat to cook.  Don’t spend your entire day slaving in the kitchen switch up your Christmas meat and keep the sides simple with fewer choices to cut cooking time by over half.  My favourite for Christmas is gammon which is very affordable and makes amazing left overs.

2. Shop online

I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now and it’s been a life saver.  Not only do I get a huge thrill at all the discounts out there online, but I never have to stand in the queue, pay for parking and get stuck in traffic – lovely.

3. Make it more about people than presents

I have always found that the less I spend at Christmas the more I seem to enjoy it. I’ve had a few Christmases were I’ve been so inspired with Pinterest Christmas ideas that I’ve spent all my time thinking of how much everyone would love their own crochet snowflake in their Christmas card only to discover that it will take me 5 years to make enough for everyone.  What a waste! Just spend time with the people in your life rather than fixating on what absolutely perfect Christmas gift you could give them.  Too many details = stress.

4. Throw out a few traditions

Traditions are a wonderful thing to have and instil great memories, but when they become counterproductive by inducing stress and tension in the family it’s time to let them go.  We’ve had to work through this each year as we’ve never spent an entire Christmas on our own and so there is, of course, lots of compromise involved.  We tend to see the traditions more as guidelines than rules. For example, giving christmas pajamas on Christmas eve is a favourite tradition of mine, but not one we’ve always been able to afford.  So switch it up with Christmas socks or santa hats to keep the tradition going.  Another example is the date and time of things.  We’ve always traditionally put up our tree on the 12th, my brother’s birthday, but we tend to do it sometime in the week or as close to that date if we’re not available that day.  We’ll still get a Christmas tree and Christmas will still happen even though the tree is up on a different day of the year.

5. Stick to a budget

This is usually the one that always gets thrown out the window as soon as we spot that amazing deal or the massive toy that would just blow our kids minds, but it’s what can cause the most stress about Christmas – overspending.  There is no bleaker month than January with zero money.

I hope these tips help you stress less and enjoy this special time of year.

What are your best stress busting tips for Christmas??

2014 Family Christmas Gift Guide

Well, it’s December!  I’m so glad it’s here and we have so much to look forward to this month.  My husband’s exams are FINISHED!!  So now we can enjoy the kids nativities, Christmas parties, mulled wine and turning on the Christmas tree every morning creating that special glow.

My oldest has asked that we make lots of Christmas traditions this year, which of course we already have plenty of, but she’s made a lovely list of things she wants to do this Christmas.  Making Christmas cookies and gingerbread houses are top of the list, along with opening a present Christmas Eve, and giving a gift to those in need.  I think she’s nailed Christmas and she’s only 6!

But the inevitable Christmas shopping will come as well and so to help you along I’ve created a little picture board of gifts for all the family.  There’s always one person that is really difficult to buy for so I’ve got a little something for her, him and the kids.   Who are you struggling to find the perfect gift for this year?

2015 Gift Guide for Her
2014 Gift Guide for Him

Pancakes, blogging and other things

Pancakes, blogging & other things

It’s Saturday morning and I have been awake for about 3 and a half hours already and it’s only 8:45 am.  I have helped make two pumpkin pies, made my own grain free pumpkin pancakes (yum!) and have also assisted the making of bacon and pancakes for 6 children.

But now I am sitting at my desk (another small victory to be at a desk and not typing on my lap in some random corner of the living room), eating my pumpkin pancakes and sipping on my first cup of tea of the day.  Bliss…  It’s taken me all week to sit down at my desk to write.  I miss it so much but the days seem to fly by weeks at a time and I am just trying to make sure I’m awake at the right time of each day.  It’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference between night and day and I pretty much feel the same at both times.

Oh yes, it’s that time of the year again when hubby is studying most hours and sleeping for the rest and kids activities seem to triple and the calendar just explodes with events.  And that is why I look forward to Christmas so much every year.  My husband will actually have some time off from work where he gets to be with the family instead of at the library studying, and it’s cold enough outside to make it perfectly acceptable to stay indoors in our pi’s…all week long.

Saturday was another one of those calendar explosion days.  My amazingly gorgeous nieces slept over and we all headed up to Leatherhead to my brother’s house for an EPIC Thanksgiving meal with friends followed by racing down to Billingshurt for the Christmas Fair where I had a stall booked to sell my beauty products.

I still need to figure out what food to bring to the Thanksgiving meal and have two batches of body butter to make, jar up and label for the Christmas Fair.  This could be a very long day.  But what I have learned is that if I stop and think too much about all the work I have to do I get overwhelmed from the work load and become “stress paralysed” as they say in the movie “Mom’s night out”.  That is so a real thing!

I know you mum’s know what I’m talking about.  You start off making your to-do list and then you become frozen by the volume of work that needs to be done while having a mild panic attack about how much more work there will be if you keep sitting still.  But you just can’t seem to move and face all the work because the thought of it all just STRESSES you out – stress paralysis!  Very, very sad, but yet very real.

So my defence mechanism against such “stress paralysis” is to just keep moving.  You just do one thing and then the other until all the work is done.  You basically turn into Jason Bourne from the Bourne Identity. The more pressure and stress he was under the quicker and harder he would work.  Brilliant, but I believe this is not exclusive to highly trained secret government agents.  Us mum’s can do this too!  I do it all the time at my work, at home with the kids doing housework and any other place that requires exhaustive amounts of work.  Just keep moving.  Don’t give up, don’t think about it and just keep going.

Everybody has to do hard work and even though our work as mum’s can sometimes play some cruel psychological jokes on us, we’re not any worse off than any mother out there – or so my mother keeps telling me?!?

So if you’re caught up in the extra doses of hard work and stress this time of year can bring – just breathe and keep going.  It will come to an end – Hallelujah!  Christmas will come, holiday’s will arrive and we can finally sit down with a hot drink and enjoy our families.

Happy Holidays x


Our Big Family Christmas

Christmas was big, fun and hearty this year.  With special guests from the states with us, Ken and Janie Garber, we totalled a number of 14 on Christmas day.  With a ratio of 8 adults to 6 children there were equal amounts of chaos and order to make the whole day a great success.  I enjoyed every smile, laugh and loving tear with each present being opened.  It truly was a love filled day.  We started off on Christmas Eve at church with a candle procession from the kids and a nativity with two live donkeys.  Christmas day started nice and early with a super scrummy breakfast of fresh cinnamon rolls (my one contribution to Christmas day food).  The children then waited in the hallway shouting (let us in, let us in) as we got all cameras to the ready as we flung open the doors to the lounge and captured every eye-popping, jaw dropping expression from the children as they saw the presents.  An absolutely priceless moment that we then bring to a simmer as we start by reading the nativity story.

Wrapping presents until midnight and then waking up at 5 am to make fresh cinnabons was absolutely worth it.  And I have to say a big thank you to my sister-in-law, Shelley, for diligently taking a lovely picture of our christmas tree with all the presents at 1 am on Christmas Eve and to Janie Garber for taking some lovely family pictures on the day.  Everyone had a great time celebrating and enjoying all the blessings from having Jesus in our lives and I hope you did too.

So here it is in pictures our Chesney/Cupido Christmas of 2013.

The Reason I Celebrate This Season

Jenny advent candle

I’ve been reading the ‘Christmas Story’ from Luke to remember what we’re celebrating this Christmas.  My kids know this story so well, they’ve been in about 8 nativities and have been everything from a star to Mary.  But I wanted to read through it in my adult bible and really take in what God did for us at Christmas.

When we read the Christmas story it can really seem like it’s just that – a story.  It’s full of so much wonder, awe, and the supernatural – from a virgin getting pregnant, a new star in the sky and angels appearing in people’s bedrooms – we’re only short a baby’s first laugh from it being a Tinkerbell adventure. But God knew before this universe was even created that he would have to send his only son, Jesus, to this earth to rescue us from ourselves.  That is true love.  He knew all that Jesus would suffer and he created us anyway.  He knew we would continue doing wrong and evil, but he sent Jesus anyway.  I am completely overwhelmed by the love of God as I remember the precious care he took at bringing his son into the world.

Christmas is the biggest birthday party of the entire year.  I want it to be the biggest celebration my kids experience.  I’ve heard every point of view on Christmas, from paganism, to materialism, from greed to sin.  But what did God do when his Son, Jesus, was born?  He sent hosts (a crowd, a company) of angels to sing praises to the Shepherds.  Can you even imagine that????  Seeing crowds of angels in the sky singing heavenly songs of praise!  Wow.

I better make Christmas a big deal if God made it a big deal.  Sharing the love of Jesus with one another and remembering why Jesus was born and what he gave us through his life and death and resurrection all started at his birth.  So let’s celebrate.  God rejoices everyday all day.  Lets rejoice! Let’s share love and grace and get excited about the awe and wonder of the birth of Jesus.

“But the angel reassured them.  ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said.  ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.  The Saviour – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!  And you will recognise him by this sign:  You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’  Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”  Luke 2:10-14

Merry Christmas

Little Christmas Helpers

Here’s a few things I’ve found that I thought might come in handy in our last week of Christmas prep.  All the resources are free to use and the links are provided below.  Let me know what you think.  And may your days be merry and bright!

Gift Tags

Oh the lovely things

Shanty 2 Chic

Harris Sisters

Last minute DIY Gifts

Tassle Garland

Clothespin Dolls

Pom pom bookmarks 

DIY Natural Room Scents

44 Gifts in a Jar

Magic Snow

Free Presents (Print and Give)

Minivan Express

I Spy

I love everything about you

Christmas Jokes

Shadow Puppets

My Year of Christmas Cheer

With only a week and a half left until Christmas I have to say I have so far succeeded in maintaining a completely calm, peaceful and un-manic state of being.  I have spent the month enjoying family, friends and church, watching my two oldest in their nativity at school, making lists, meal planning, writing christmas cards and doing absolutely no Christmas shopping!

Every year I start the Christmas season with the same pep talk with my husband “we’re not spending a lot of money this Christmas”.  And then by the middle of December we step onto the high street and suddenly our family and friends need absolutely everything in the shop windows!  And since this has happened so consistently year after year we have finally taken a stand and not walked down the high street.  In fact I’ve spent the least amount of money this month out of the entire year (I keep track of these things now).

Do I feel shopping withdrawals, deprived, depressed, left-out or nervous about what we’re going to give people at Christmas??  Am I lying awake at night wondering what our friends and family will think of us for simply not buying them a gift and instead opting for something homemade or bought solely with Tesco vouchers?  Absolutely not.  Instead I am praising Jesus and rejoicing in His unfailing faithfulness for being my source and yes, the reason for the season.

This Christmas I fully intend on spending all my time, energy and love on family and friends and celebrating in the amazing gift of salvation that all started with the birth of our saviour, Jesus.

Here’s a peek at what I’ve been up to this month.