Top tips on how to prepare for your best ever Christmas!

Claire Dunworth-Warby, a Personal, Business and Education Coach, discusses how to maximise your chances of achieving your most enjoyable festive season ever…

December can be relied upon to be one of the most manic months of the year. Not only are we juggling all the normal demands of both our family life and work commitments, but we also need to factor in the extra demands on our time.

We are expected to have bought every present with care for each person; beautifully decorated the house (and nowadays the garden – an additional pressure!); stocked up the cupboards with Christmas goodies – and all this in plenty of time so that we are calmly awaiting the start of the festive season with a smile on our faces.

At least, that is the image that T.V. adverts and magazines would like us to believe – that the ideal Christmas is like this; everything and everybody looking perfect.

However, we all know that heightened levels of socialising and organising can take its toll and be emotionally draining. On occasion it can even be tricky as, different generations with different needs or family members who do not always hit it off are thrown together in a confined space either and sometimes for an intensive period.

How to manage all these varying expectations – whilst crucially not forgetting our own – is the dilemma we all face every time the festive season comes round!

Careful planning beforehand, good listening skills and thoughtful communications with people are all key to having the Christmas that you would regard as your own personal ‘perfect’ Christmas (not the idealised media version) and enjoying it to the full.

Careful planning
The prospect of all the Christmas tasks can be daunting viewed as a whole, so make a list of everything that you think you need to do. Now, to make it all manageable, eliminate those tasks that are not really essential to the Christmas you want to have; prioritise the remaining tasks and break them down into small, achievable daily chunks that will not overwhelm you.

Good listening
While conversing we are often either talking or waiting to jump back in and not really paying attention to the other person’s words. The result – that person doesn’t feel valued or understood. An attentive listener pays full attention (so no multitasking during important or meaningful exchanges); keeps good eye contact (but doesn’t stare intently, which can be off-putting) and responds to show that the message has been received and is respected (verbally in an even voice and non-verbally by nodding, gesturing or using facial expressions). Although this all sounds obvious, good listening doesn’t often happen. Practise this and then use it to calm situations.

Thoughtful communications
Many of us are conditioned from birth to avoid confrontation and to fear criticism, so we dread the awkward conversations and tricky situations that can arise – especially at Christmas. Try using ‘I’ rather than ‘you’ to soften the impact of what you are saying and show that you are being non-judgemental. For instance, ‘You never help me’ becomes ‘I would really appreciate your help – how about…’

When persuading someone round to your way of thinking use ‘because’ as people tend to respond positively. So, ‘I won’t be with you until Boxing Day’ becomes ‘I am meeting up with Tom on Christmas Day because he won’t be around again for a while’.

So, bearing all this in mind, here’s wishing you your own personal version of a Merry Christmas!

Claire Dunworth-Warby of Aspire Associates Coaching is a Personal, Business and Education Coach working with individuals and organisations one-to-one, over the phone or online and leading workshops across the UK. Training the trainers is also available.

For more information or a free taster session contact her on 01746 218298 or visit www.aspire-coaching.biz

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