I’m not ashamed to admit that I get spookily excited as we enter the Halloween season. Sticky apples and silly games spring to mind. I wish my kids were young again so I could play all of our, (my) favourite games.
I hear my friends say, "It’s commercial", "It’s over rated, stressful and really expensive,"Why the hell do you get so excited?"
Indulge in Child-Like Fun!
For me it’s all about friends and family, (as always) and a fantastic chance to let my hair down, laugh and do silly things, yes this really is a picture of my nails.
There are some things that a 52-year-old woman maybe shouldn’t get excited about, but I just can’t help it! I love to dress up for Halloween and play silly games with the kids, who are now young adults!
The garage is transformed using black shredded dustbin bags hung over doorways to give a creepy entrance way. We cut out spooky shapes and bats and hang them on cotton from the ceiling. I use wool to make spiders webs, this is part of the fun, doing the decorations on a budget. I could really do with borrowing a few youngsters.
As far as games go, you must include hang man’s apples, you know, tie your hands behind your back and try to bite an apple that’s hanging from the doorway or off a broom stick that the witches have left. Bobbing apples (and absolutely no drying the face) must be followed by hunt the marshmallow in the flour mountain.
A firm favourite of the kids used to be the gunge tank. . . I filled a small dustbin full of jelly, custard, wall paper paste and then put in plastic toys like spiders, worms, snakes and small packets of sweets. Then, blind folded you have to put your arm in, and pull something out, always to ooohs and ahhs!
Keep it economical & fun.
For me it’s how you look at events that can make them stressful and potentially expensive. Keep whatever you do simple. and try to make all of it, including the preparation, part of the fun. Keep the food simple, 'witch’s fingers in skins', AKA hot dogs. Make it all finger food, use kitchen roll as napkins, keep the clear up quick, and the cost down.
Huddle up by the Bonfire.
Bonfire Night is when I think the winter has truly arrived and it’s time for big coats, scarves and gloves. My husband and son are complete and utter bonfire lovers, they both love spending hours in the garden if we have too many garden cuttings for the recycle bin! Bonfire night is no different, they just have a great reason to build a bigger one! My best friend Sass’s husband is a pyromaniac too, so between the three of them we normally manage a fantastic bonfire and fireworks display! Of course, this has to be accompanied with lots of friends, laughter, wine and food!
Don’t try and be Superwoman, you’re always going to get stains on that spandex!
Before you ask, yes, I have already started to buy and plan for Christmas. We are hosting the Christmas lunch this year and so far, we have 12 people. I have been known to cook for 18! We have always made it the “law” that everyone helps in some way. Normally we all pitch in, one does the veg, one brings the Christmas pudding, one brings the cheeseboard and everyone has to bring alcohol and drinks, and we all help with the washing up!
Some Christmas dinners we need to change the cooking methods as my Brother in Law Mark is allergic to alcohol, and this is normally part of most of my recipes at Christmas. Everything has it in, from mince meat, to cheese! But when Mark is with us nothing can have it in just in case Mark eats it – “I always like a challenge!” By encouraging, well insisting that everyone joins in, it not only helps me, but it helps everyone feel involved and that they have contributed. Don’t take it all on and try to be Superwoman, the stress and anxiety will bite you on the bum.
I just love an “Elfie”
I have a selection of Christmas jumpers and t shirts that I have collected over the years, and I encourage, ok, I insist that we have at least one day in the house where we all wear them. Last year to make everyone laugh and so I could make a funny Christmas card I bought a novelty duvet cover with Mr & Mrs Elf on. We could not stop laughing to take the photo so if nothing ‘elf’ we had such fun!
We have an 8ft false tree outside our front door, which I rescued from being thrown in the tip. It was complete with decorations. Every year we get it out of the shed and literally put the three sections together, it virtually pops up!
The REAL Christmas tree is an annual pilgrimage, normally it’s the first weekend of December when we head off as a family to the Forestry Commission on Cannock Chase. I have been going since I was a little, I used to kick off every year until we got a real Christmas tree. I love the fact that the money goes back to the forestry commission, the smell of the trees and the fact that every year each tree is different.
That leads me on to the annual fight over the size of the tree - I always want a massive one, and it has to have a fat bottom. Husband Steve then always has to chop off at least a foot in height so it actually fits into our house. I just love the smell of the real Christmas tree greeting me after a long day at work.
Make time for others, it’s an essential part of self-care.
Decorating the house is again something we all do together making it part of the fun and relieving the work load on one person, me. Ok, so I normally have to sneak back to the tree and make adjustments, but don’t we all?
Making time to spend these precious times of year with family, friends and neighbours is Self-care in its self for me. I love to help my mum decorate her house and I help my elderly neighbours with the Christmas card delivery and decorations.
Make sure you take a breath, keep it simple and do the things that make you smile and bring joy. Try not to get caught up with the competitive pressures of who sent who a Christmas card or who has the best present. This year I will be sending an email to my friends wishing them a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year. I won’t be sending cards as I will be donating to my favourite charity. This way I save hours of time, a few trees and do some good all at the same time – Try It!
My Top Tips for a stress free festive Season.
Make a list of what is really important, and then plan it
Simplify it - Make a not to do list!
Share the organisation – get everyone involved
Have Fun & laugh lots. Laughter costs nothing and sometimes we get lost on what is important!
Roz Ashton is a Co-Founder here at Self Care Psychology. Roz manages our Facebook page, you can read her bio here, and find her on her twitter @rozboardbabe.