Stepping Out of the Superwoman Heels for the Festive Season
As a mum, wife, sister and daughter I spend every year ensuring Christmas is perfect for everyone. I'm the hostess that caters for all family and friends as they gather round our table for Christmas dinner.
I'm proud that people have told me they wouldn't want to spend Christmas anywhere else as it seems the most magical at the Mercer's.
This is my normal routine:
I will work hard to finance the presents. Husband and children will tell me what they want. I love to give big surprises so I always end up doing overtime to tick everything off their lists while giving more so they have no idea what they're opening. It takes time, it takes effort, it takes planning and it's blinking expensive.
The Elves on the Shelves
On the first of December Elves come to stay until Christmas. Every day they drop off little presents for the three children. Last year it was a trip on the North Yorkshire Railway (don't ask it was horrific), cinema tickets, the Polar Express on DVD with popcorn and “I believe” bells, they also got up to naughty tricks such as kidnapping all the teddy bears, pulling down Santa's pants and turning the fridge into a snowman.
We have a rule between siblings in my husband's family that we don't buy presents for grown-ups only children. I hate it as I love giving presents. It's a great challenge finding something so personal for an adult that seems to have it all. My husband's family don't do surprises either, simply receive or give what's on a list.
Anyhow I found a way round the present thing by making bespoke hampers. I cooked fudge, truffles, biscuits, their favourite sweets (as I'd learned over the years) accompaniments to go with their turkey- cranberry jelly, Christmas chutney etc. and presented them in a big hamper with a small gift. They say it's cheaper to make your own, it isn't! Each hamper costs in excess of £50 to make from scratch and they take the whole of December to make.
On Christmas Eve we bake and decorate. We have a lovely dinner of choice and pick at mince pies, sausage rolls and finally open the fudge and truffles I've hung on the tree. The children stay up a little later then when they go to bed we arrange the living room. We bring all their presents out of hiding and give them an area each. We also assemble any that need it so they can use it instantly on Christmas Day. Then we take small presents and put them in a stocking which we place on the end of their beds when we go to sleep.
Christmas Day I wake the earliest. I come downstairs and light a log fire and get on a pot of coffee, fresh bread and bacon and eggs. I start of the turkey and prep the veg. The children when they wake up know they have to open their stockings and play upstairs until I'm sure everything's ready. (Even my husband and extended family members like my mum have to do this too as they also receive a stocking!)
When I shout them they come downstairs and have breakfast. I've learned that trying to get them to eat when all they want to do is play with new toys is a nightmare. We also take hours opening presents.
The present opening begins. As we all like to see what each other has got and how gifts to each other are received, we take it in turns to open our presents, we don't all dive in at once. As soon as they're done I disappear into the kitchen for what seems like the rest of the day. There's not only Christmas to cater for I also have to prepare the roasts for the Boxing Day cold meat family buffet.
Last year I woke up in hospital on Boxing Day due to exhaustion and an infection. I spent up until New Year bed bound and by the time I was better the children had returned to school and I had to return to work.
My husband has told me that top of his list is for me to be able to play with the kids. Not to be elbow deep in turkey and not to stress making everything perfect. So this year we're:
- Not Having Christmas Dinner until Boxing Day – we're going to choose some quick meals instead, let's face it with the chocolates and treats we receive we could easily have a chocoholics day!
- Not Making Hampers – despite the cost and expense they're actually not received very well. I'm going to give in and give a bottle of wine or nothing to those who just buy for the kids.
- Not Completing Lists – time, energy and money make this an endeavour I'd rather do without. Luckily Sky has really helped. The children are so used to fast forwarding adverts now that they haven't watched any for months. If I can keep them away from adverts for the next 16 weeks I won't have to put up with finding that new craze that they think they want.
- Not Making Decorations – everyone says making your own decorations is cost effective. Factor in your hourly rate, electric used and you'll find it costs a fortune. There are some lovely cheap decorations if only the snobbery is removed that look just as good if not better. It's about finding the pearls within the rocks.
I'll be back to let you know if my selfish Christmas goes down well!