It may have escaped your notice, but it’s already the end of the first week of December. We’re now on the final slide into Christmas and, more importantly, the post-Christmas collapse, however brief that might be.
It’s a time when the usual manic parenting and work activity is ramped up another 10 levels and this year there’s the added Brexit drama for good measure. So can you make it to the 25th? Here are some shortcuts around the main Christmas activities. Of course, you might be one of those parents who loves every minute of the Christmas juggle – or jingle as the elves call it – but even so, it can be advisable to cut a few corners every now and then.
1. Make a list and check it twice.
2. School plays. Use multipurpose material for all costumes – usually an old dress or shirt can double up as all manner of things, from shepherds to census takers to donkeys [with added ear headdress]. This can be adapted throughout the year for Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Tudors and the like by adding a belt, some sandals, a crown or an apron. Get your child to make any accessories. This will go down well with the teachers, make you look like a good parent rather than a desperate one and prevent any criticism of the costume.
3. Hone your forgery skills if you don’t have time to cajole your five year old into signing 30 Christmas cards. Do a deal. They do 15 and you do the rest.
4. If you don’t have money for cakes and bottles for the Christmas fete and are not a Bake Off expert, contribute time on the tombola stand. Better still, volunteer your child or your partner as a helper. Describe it as ‘bonding time’.
If your kids are at secondary school Christmas will almost pass you by in a cloud of end of term tests, except for the demands for expensive Secret Santa presents. Appeal to their anti-capitalist idealism and get them to be creative. It’s a skill they’re going to need for the future. You’re only thinking of them.
5. Viruses: ’tis the season to be snotty. You will either have already come down with various bugs or be about to succumb, probably at 11pm on 24th December. If the former occurs, it will, of course, mean that you are even further behind with all your work and Christmas preparations and even more stressed and ready for the post Christmas collapse.
6. Work parties. NB three hours into the office Christmas party is not the best time to ask for a pay rise.
7. Presents. Remember: buy batteries; don’t get glossy paper because the sellotape won’t stick; and focus your efforts on one general theme or shop if no-one has come up with any realistic options.
8. Decorations and food. Delegate, delegate, delegate. Tell other members of the families that it is not for yourself that you are doing it; you want to let them build their Christmas skills. Who knows where it will take them in the future – A career in design? Masterchef?
If you prepare for the worst eventuality [and these days you never know] then you can almost put your feet up by the 24th and crash out five minutes into the latest offering on Christmas 24 channel.