I asked my real and online friends what their tips would be for Christmas: to enjoy it, get through it, or get around it. Whichever way you look at it Christmas is a time of year when we can feel overwhelmed by our own expectations of the day or our fears of how it may be different from previous ones. Take a breath, make a cup of tea, or pour yourself a glass of cava and enjoy these tips from this selection of wise folk who have all been there, and done that in one way or another.
Maria van Boxtel: As many people I always miss my family and friends this time of the year a bit more than any other period. So I decided to do something different this year and make an open invitation to everyone to celebrate Christmas together. I believe when you are celebrating together it makes it easier to handle the feeling of missing your loved ones. I’m looking forward to meet people who I have never met before and have fun instead of being at home feeling miserable.
Sandra Piddock: Focus on the good memories from previous years – celebrate them and talk about them, because that’s a great way to get into the Christmas spirit, even if you don’t feel like it. And invite someone who would otherwise be alone. But make it someone you like, so you have a good chance of enjoying the day. It works – I’ve done it several times, and never regretted it.
Julie Brogan: If you’re alone try asking around your social group if anyone wants to join you for the day. I did it last year we had a great time: 14 of us in total so we had a very merry and fun time.
Remember the Christmas story
Anne Kay: Don’t give up on the original religious reason.
Don’t max out your credit card
Sandi Oakley: Don’t overspend…it’s the thought that counts! Just do your best, no more should be expected of you or others!
Sue Carmichael: Keep to budget…..never overspend or you’ll start New Year depressed ’cause of debt!
Mara RV: Don’t give so much importance to giving presents, we don’t need more things, we need more love.
Saskia Griffiths: Presence vs Presents.
Melody Fennell: B R E A T H E….and Love.
Pick up the phone
Graham Wilding: For expats being remote from family is upsetting, especially for those without the ability to use today’s technology…messenger, SKYPE etc.
Sandi Oakley: If you can’t get to be with friends and family make sure you talk on the phone over the Christmas – especially to young grandchildren – it will cheer you up and the children will make you laugh!
Take control of your emotions
Patricia Hartland: Decide to be happy.
Keep it in perspective
Lesley Keith: I’d tell those who dread it that it’s just one day and will soon pass.
Rachel Nicholson: I do think it’s good to remember it’s just one day, and before you know it it’ll be here and gone. It can be, and is, a very difficult time for a lot of people. I lost my Mum not long before Christmas 2014, my Mum Loved Christmas..the only way I know how to get through it is to try and enjoy it, that is what she would have wanted.
Philip Rogan: It’s something really important that you are addressing because for many it really is the worst time of the year. I think that some people like some of the above make an effort to put people together and that makes a big difference. In your own head try not to give it all too much importance and know that the “festivities” will come to an end soon enough and that normality will return. Obviously, for some people, it’s simply the “best” time of the year and they love it. Avoid these people at all costs!! I do think that it’s an important issue that you are writing about, a tip, take it easy and focus on work or your regular hobbies as per normal as much as possible. Give or allow yourself one day to enjoy it, treat yourself and a friend to something nice.
Cassian Edward: I think the most important tip you can add, if it hasn’t been suggested already, is some sort of helpline and/or communication avenue for those that find themselves on their own at this time of year, helping to put them in touch with others who understand their predicament and with whom they can talk to and enable spirits to be raised. There are so many out there that have no family; are on their own in some way; and for whom Christmas is a time of isolation. A means to allow people who are lonely at this time of year to communicate or be with others is something that can make life so much more liveable and bearable.
Michelle Whenman: Visit people you know who will be alone. Loneliness affects all ages.
Do something else
Laura Anne-Marie: I would advise if you are feeling upset that you don’t put on a bunch of Christmas feel good movies, maybe get some fresh air and do some exercise or distract yourself with a project like sorting out your clothes, what you don’t wear you can donate to Allen Graham Charity.
Helen Comben: Remember it really is only another day in the year .. and the world will not fall apart if you opt out of all the trimmings or even work the day.
Glenda Stirling-Langan: If you are not up for crimbo for whatever reason and are not wanting to do the social thing, avoid all media, start a good Netflix series and, or book trilogy and get those rainy days jobs sorted. Achieve. If you are up for crimbo embrace it, avoid negative media, plan your Christmas to include seeing everyone you want to. Keep an eye on your spending. Overall remember, it only really lasts a couple o days.
Get out and about
Angie Wallace: Foster a dog.
Alternatively, stay in
Caroline Trevill: Another thought for those on their own is to say embrace it! You can spend the day in your pjs, eat as many mince pies as you want without judgement and don’t have to put up with annoying family members.
Eva Marie Burns: Stay in bed.
Lilly Rose: Stay in bed ear plugs and sleep from 24th till 26th December.
Birgitta Nilsson: Going to bed and stay in bed 3 days . Just a normal weekend mode.
Do what makes you happy
Belinda Shaw: Be with the people that you want to be with (if you can) and if that is yourself then whatever keeps you happy – I am one of those people who goes with the flow – but am as happy having a Marmite sandwich at home in front of the tv or an Xmas meal with friends – depends on how I am feeling. I have had people invite me to join them because they cannot imagine spending the holidays alone – but to me it is a day like any other day just with a few presents to open if I am lucky!!
Lesley Harris: Don’t force old traditions on your new lifestyle (expats) embrace your local restaurateurs, neighbours, co-workers, and those who are present at this time. If you’ve chosen to live differently, snag a few buddies here and do it differently!
Val Eyckmans Godbehear: I don’t live an expat lifestyle but we always celebrate Christmas in the typical British way and all the Spanish and other nationalities in the family love it and wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t think it’s a matter of just taking on the Spanish way of living but of sharing our way with them too.
Sean Herdman-Low: Do what makes you happy- don’t feel pressured into attending events or things that you can’t face. It can be a busy time of year and it’s important to put it into perspective.
Roberta Longo: Manage your expectations against your reality.
Joyce Checketts: Just be thankful you made it to Christmas 2017 as many we know didn’t – happy Christmas.
Nicola Jane Grieve: There’s always someone worse off than you!!!
Take a dip
Belinda Shaw: Come to El Toro Beach on Xmas morning and watch the mad dogs and Englishmen taking a dip… That is always fun and free. There’s usually mulled wine or some other beverage being shared as well as laughs.
Take the opportunity to disconnect
Humphrey Carter: Throw the TV out of the window and enjoy some quality time with friends and family.
Caroline Trevill: Focus less on perfect and more on fun. If you’re fortunate enough to have people you love to spend Christmas with, then don’t spend your energy worrying about whether your tree is wonky or whether you mince pies are from Waitrose. Plan some games and make some fun memories.
Take it easy on the turkey
Claire Jeffery: Don’t eat animals. Be lovely to people.
Do your prep beforehand
Laura Stadler: I find best to prepare as much as possible the day before, not to be too ambitious and warn everyone not to expect me to be a domestic goddess… I’m definitely NOT!!
Keep your sense of humour
Fiona Pitt-Kethley: I once said Xmas is a four-letter word in an article and the Telegraph altered it to Christmas, which isn´t…
Lucy Dundas: We have cut our expenditure on gifts in favour of a holiday together..the memories of those last much longer than the gifts nobody remembers a few days after. Time together and experiences are priceless.
Fiona Hanks: When I was running expeditions I often happened to be in non Christian countries in December … that makes Christmas pretty uneventful and easy!
Sharon Grange: Get on a plane and go on holiday, better than spending money on presents!
Daniella Melanie B: Go away on holiday!!! Somewhere far away and just ignore Christmas!
James B Rieley: In times of stress or chaotic things all around, perhaps the best thing to do is follow the red-poster’s advice from the war….Keep Calm and Carry On.
Julie Waller: Use insight timer to find a meditation or two that you like. Be fully present and enjoy the season.
Take some time out alone
Heather Donahue: Solitude is solid food.
Be prepared for the Christmas hangover
Saskia Griffiths: Apple cider vinegar for hangovers!
Offer help to others
Rosemary Grainge: Yes….don’t just enjoy yourself… Get out and about and help others less fortunate… Volunteer.
Caroline Trevill: Instinctively it feels like the best cure for loneliness might be to help others somehow. Whether volunteering somewhere or reaching out to other people who might be on their own. I’d like to think other people would be aware of people on their own and invite them in, but I suspect that’s just wishful thinking.
Gem Alexander: If you know any single mums, volunteer to watch their kids for a few hours at some point during the festive season just so they can get their Xmas wrapping done.
Tracy Courtney-Wills: if you are lonely at Christmas, best thing you can do is volunteer with a charitable organization helping to feed the homeless or needy. You get to be part of a great team of people for the day, feel needed and part of something, realise there are people worse off than yourself, hopefully have a genuinely good time in the process and go home feeling a warm glow inside.
So, with all of this in mind, good luck, I hope you have fun, stay true to how you want to celebrate or not, and I will see you on the other side. Merry Christmas, Vicki xxx