Last year, I endeavoured to create the perfect Christmas.
I made Christmas tree decorations from scratch and foraged for natural materials whilst enduring off-the-beaten-path kinda walks with our mental dog. I dried fruits and hung them from beautiful threads of rustic twine with bows and ribbon and created jars of beautiful natural foliage freshly picked from one of my stressful dog walks, dressed with sparkling lights and scents of cinnamon. Every aspect of our Christmas dinner was handmade with stress and ridiculously high standards and guests were treated to a buffet breakfast and a buffet in the evening.
Sounds lovely, but it wasn't, it was bloody stressful. I never made it to the sofa during the entire day and only managed to relax when my head hit the pillow in the evening, which was at around 9pm! Kirstie Allsop may have been proud, but my Christmas overall had even too stressful and pretty pants to be honest.
This year has been all about doing things simply.
Luckily, I still had many of the handmade decorations from last year to decorate the tree with, giving it the same rustic charm of the previous year. Many of my dried fruit decorations had gone mouldy in the box, so I unfortunately had to chuck those out and make do with fairy lights around the window sills, I also used battery operated lights in my jars this year, tarted up with a few oranges decorated with cloves from the spice cupboard. No stressful dog walks for fresh foliage involved.
I filled the freezer with as much easy to cook crap as possible and even made sure that our Christmas dinner involved as little prep as I could get away with. I didn't chop a single vegetable on Christmas day. Everything was boxed, oven-ready and microwave-able, the only thing I needed to do was to unbox and press the button... Ta-da!
Presents were mainly limited to vouchers: meal vouchers, shopping vouchers, wine tasting experiences, with the odd box of Christmas biscuits, wrapped nicely with ribbon as opposed to the heap of beautifully wrapped "bits" that people usually get. Gift bags were a God-send and my own child got what she wanted or needed for Christmas and not much else... easy! Hers were wrapped roughly and I didn't bother with tags... it's not like she can read them!
We have thrown 2 Christmas parties and buffet food has been plentiful, but unimaginative. On Christmas Day, the last guests left the house at 12.30 pm, leaving us almost an entire day of super relaxing family time; our toddler even remained in her pyjamas for the entire day!
I can honestly say that this year, I have thoroughly enjoyed my Christmas. I've hardly seen the kitchen really and although I've missed my usual baking bonanzas, I've not missed the stress of trying to fit everything in. It's been one of the Christmases I can remember as a kid: the usual buffet of frozen finger food, playing with toys in my pyjamas all day and lots of time spent with other family members. Christmas is about people not perfection.
In the run up to the big day, I worried needlessly that I wasn't making enough effort, that I didn't seem to be busy enough to be able to pull it all off. But I did, maybe not in style, but I certainly pulled it off. I saw photographs of other families in the run up to Christmas, particularly on Christmas Eve on Social Media, sharing snaps of their "Christmas PJs" and "Christmas Eve boxes," which left me questioning my own efforts. Then I had to remind myself that we all have enough pairs of pyjamas, we didn't need Christmas ones and that I don't believe in Christmas Eve boxes anyway, we get enough presents on Christmas Day for heaven sake, why do we need presents for Christmas Eve? Then there were the elaborate advent calendars, we made do with milky bar ones that cost me £1 from the corner shop.
But it was enough. Enough is enough.
The last few months have been testing for us and we haven't had much time to invest in creating the Perfect Christmas, but it's actually been great. It's reminded me about what Christmas is all about.
Next year, I'd like to think that I'll have a little more time to use my creativity to indulge myself in a few handmade/homemade touches, but I certainly won't be busting my gut over it.
Life is too short to spend fussing over making things perfect, there's no fun in that!