finds five experts to share their tips on how to survive the festive season...without going crackers
The family expert
“Christmas can be a really challenging time of the year for many families. This could be due to the hype and busyness of the season, the changes to routine, food and sleep, or simply that the reality does not live up to the high hopes and fantasy we may have of how Christmas should be. For those who have lost loved ones, Christmas can amplify these feelings of loss. So, it is worth planning ahead so that you can your family can have your best Christmas ever.
Here are my top tips to set yourself and your children up for success:
Think about your ideal Christmas. Is it a time to relax, recharge and reconnect? Or is it fun and going out? Get clear on your goals.
Ask each family member what they love most about Christmas and add this to your goals.
Once you are clear on your goals, plan ahead. Keep it simple. Do less, connect more. Decide what is really important to you and say “no” to the rest. Look after yourself so you can look after your family. Children depend on adults to regulate their environment and help them to regulate their moods so if you are stressed, your child will be more likely to act out. Focus on the rituals you want to use to give a sense of family and belonging. Ideas are making ornaments, making cards, reading Christmas books every night in December and read ‘the Night Before Christmas’ on Christmas Eve, have a special breakfast on Christmas morning, take a photo in front of the tree.
Try to limit gifts as the only present your child truly needs is you in a good mood and to feel safe and loved.
Help your child to give back by picking a charity and giving generously to other children in need.
Don’t expect perfection from you or your children.
Try to incorporate as much physical activity and outdoor time as possible to counteract the busyness of the holiday season Try to keep regular mealtimes to keep hanger at bay. Limit treats to avoid a sugar crash. Bring healthy snacks with you when visiting other people.
Plan ahead for visits to friends and family. Share your expectations with your children. Have a backup plan in case things go wrong, e.g. busy bag for younger children.
Younger children benefit from practicing specific social situations, e.g. how to respond when you receive a gift, how to respond if you don’t like a gift, what to do if you don’t like the food you are given in someone else’s house, what to do if someone wants to hug you when they say hello and you don’t want to.
See it as a time to recharge and reconnect. Make sure you plan downtime where children can just relax.”
The finance expert
Let’s face it, no one wants to start 2020 with a pile of bills, so we asked Carol for her top 10 tips to help avoid a financial hangover in the New Year.
“It is a given that we all spend more at Christmas and during the New Year sales. When you then factor in that in addition to this increased level of spending that all of the usual monthly bills still need to be paid plus many of us get paid earlier ahead of Christmas so the December/January period becomes a five or even a six- week month, it is so vitally important to plan for Christmas as early as possible!
TV and Social Media advertising ahead of the festive season encourages us to indulge in a “Shop till we Drop” style spending marathon and few of us stop to think of the shock and financial depression that arises when those credit card bills arrive on our doorsteps during dreary January.
So, what can we do to turn Christmas into a financial success rather than debt causing disaster?!
Draw up a detailed expenditure plan for Christmas. This should include not only the cost of presents but all associated costs, for example, the extra food and beverage consumption, increased socialising, babysitting, increased use of fuel or electricity, broadband etc.
As part of the budget, make a list of actual specific items you’d like to buy for friends and family members to help you avoid impulse purchases when you go shopping.
The resulting final cost of Christmas should then be embedded into your monthly savings plan so you can then spread the cost of Christmas over the whole year. Then try to stick to this as much as possible, avoiding the temptation to over-spend and rely on expensive credit cards or other forms of debt to finance the costs.
Keep a running total of your spending — maybe by compiling the running total on your mobile phone or tablet. If using credit and store cards, there will, of course, be no avoiding the bills when they arrive in January, but you’ll be better placed to manage them if you know how much you have spent.
If you do use your credit card, try your best to ensure you pay off the balance in full when the bill arrives in the New Year.
Learning to strictly differentiate between a “want” and “need” is very important to avoid getting into debt during the New Year Sales!
Never withdraw from long term savings plans that you may be relying on for the future - such as your children’s third level education fund to finance the excesses of Christmas.
Pay in Cash. One way of sticking to the budget is to simply withdraw the budgeted amount you have put aside for festive spending in cash and when it’s gone…. well, then it is simply gone!
Of course, it is far easier said than done to try not to spend more than you should during the festive season. But if you have completely overindulged financially and you begin to feel like things are out of control when all the bills are tallied in the new year, do not be tempted to ignore your debts. Seek financial advice to help you put a payment plan in place – MABS is a state-run money advice service and helps guide people through dealing with their problem debt.
Most people will have five to 10 days off at Christmas so why not spend some of it with your spouse reviewing your finances and devise a plan to make changes in the New Year. Perhaps consider the key areas where you can cut costs and address any outstanding gaps in your family’s financial plan. Feel free to contact one of our financial advisors at HerMoney for assistance in this regard.
Above all, try not to let the financial side of Christmas be a cause of concern or stress and have a peaceful, healthy festive season and a prosperous New Year from myself and all the team at HerMoney.”
For this festive season, my first bit of advice for creating beautiful make up is to invest in a really good set of brushes. These are the tools of the trade and no make up artist would use anything less than the best on their clients, so really you shouldn’t use anything less on yourself, once you have a good set of brushes the rest will follow.
The makeup expert
Whether it’s Christmas time or any time of the year, the first and best make up tip I could give would be to make sure you’re wearing the correct colour foundation, it’s amazing how many people are walking around with the completely wrong shade for their skin. I’ve had clients wearing a shade of make up because their friend wears it and it’s obvious their friend isn’t the same colouring as them. Make up lessons are great for one on one tutorials and you can ask as many questions as you like and a great Christmas present.
I think the biggest mistake most women make when it comes to make up is having too many products and not really knowing what to do with them, that’s why I think make up lessons are essential for all women of all ages. when I do a make up lesson I ask my clients to bring in all of their make up products and we go through them and take most of them away, they leave with a much smaller make up bag but a lot more knowledge on how to use the essentials.
Make up is such an individual thing, with some people I like to accentuate the eye and on others it could be lips or cheekbones, but I do believe when applying make up it’s better to have one feature focus instead of everything at once, so this festive season I’d recommend going for a beautiful jewel-coloured eye or even a pop of glitter pigmented shadow just in the centre of the lid popped on top of your usual natural eye tones. Another way to change up your regular make up is to use a statement lip.
Reds are always a winner at Christmas time but as of late I’ve been using gorgeous hot pink on the lips for something a little different. I think the key to a beautiful classic look is a classic style that will never date. Think old and new Hollywood glamour and how they always look beautiful and on-trend because no matter what time of year the make up looks are designed to suit them individually. Beautiful make up that suits you is always in fashion no matter what season.
The hair expert
My first tip would be, get your colour done asap ladies,try to get the main prep done before Decemeber, it’s a couple of hours in the salon that you just might not get the time to fit in. At home, the main thing is having the right tools in your hair kit armory. First things first is a proper hair dryer — it will save you time and protect your hair. I may be biased but the Laniblo is really powerful, it won’t deay you and it has ionic technology that has an anti-static effect, that means you’ll get a silky smooth finish and it’s got a cold shot to lock in the blowdry too. That’s day one sorted, on day two, if I didn’t have the time to wash my hair again, I’d go for the Instyler Max, it’s got a barrel that’s quick and easy to use, I’d literally done this at my desk, it’ll give you the blow dry look and a really good professional looking finish. It’s so important to use a heat protector, L’Oreal do great ones, the TECNI.ART Pli Shaper by L’Oréal Professionnel is a heat-activated spray that gives shape, and memory to the hair. It’s fantastic, when I’m curling, I use this and it makes it last much longer. I think hair spray is a key to finishing off a look too.
From a trend point of view, textured finishes, lots of volume, I’m seeing a lot of texured ponytails, and I’d recommend any of the Kevin Murphy texture products to help achieve that look. A nice tip I’ve got from inside the hair specialists that I work with is to achieve the backcombed look at home and to get that fabulous volume is to use a crimper - lift the hood to crimp two inches of your hair underneath and that will give the big volume look without risking damaging the integreity of the hair by trying to backcomb it yourself — this should always be left to the professionals!
The hair band trend is another way of jazzing up a work to party outfit. Penneys are doing amazing ones, my advice would be to buy a few on the high street, don’t be spending too much and try a different one out with your party outfits.
Hairtalk tape extensions are another way to change up your look. With the tape, there’s huge savings in time — for instance, if you have a bob, you could add a corner in under ten minutes. In 40 minutes, you could fill out your hair, add colour, and they’re reusable so you could keep them for another occassion too.
Most important, have fun with it!
The skin care expert
With the festive season upon us now is the perfect time to invest in your skin to keep it glowing into the New Year. A dewy and youthful look is what every woman wants to find in their stocking this Christmas, and these top tips will ensure just that.
Cleansing is a vital step to everyone’s skincare routine. Not properly cleaning your face at night will age the skin dramatically. It is important to let your skin breath by removing make up, as well as the smog, smoke and toxic elements our skin picks up throughout the day. It is important to exfoliate once a week as well. A light exfoliation, not scrubbing until your face is red, massaged in circular motions will clear out the pores and leave you fresh faced and ready to absorb product properly.
Sleep is vital for all of our organs as it is when the body heals and repairs. At least 7 hours is what we recommend to all of our clients as sleep deprivation is a major contributing factor to ageing skin.
Drinking water is not only beneficial for your skin but your overall health. The result of drinking at leasttwo litres a day are endless. When it comes to the skin, the largest organ in the body, which is made up of mostly water, without a suitable H2O intake it will not only become dry, tight, and flaky but can become prone to ageing. Some may find drinking such large quantities hard, so we always suggest adding fruit, such as orange, lemon or lime, to give your water a citrus taste.
Beauty starts from within so it is important to feed from within. Vitamins are essential for our immune system and our overall health, however skin based supplements are something I suggest all my clients invest in. The Advanced Nutrition Programme from IIAA give fantastic results and are tried and tested by myself, my team and our clients.
Vitamin A is a must-have addition to your skincare routine for anti-ageing and rejuvenating. Deficiencies in Vitamin A can lead to pigmentation irregularities, ageing and sun-damage, which is the most common issue for both men and woman. In order to combat these issues, it is essential to replenish the skin cells with a topical treatment. At the salon, we suggest the Environ Skincare Vitamin A range. A good quality facial is a must this festive season for healthy, dewy skin. We always recommend the HydraFacial. The latest innovation in skincare and a must for celebrities across the globe. It’s six-step approach removes dirt and grime from your pores, and pumps back in hydration. The results are immediate with zero downtime.
The food expert
The traditional Christmas dinner is not just your average roast dinner, there should be more decadence to this meal to make it really special.
There are a lot of accompaniments to work and it’s important to make sure that they are served piping hot and at the same time.
Preparation is key with for an extraordinary Christmas dinner that will wow your guests.
Speak to your butcher and get them to prepare your turkey and ham in advance this will make it a lot easier for you. Prepare your vegetables in advance by chopping then lightly blanche them.
Have the vegetables trayed for roasting in the oven, drizzle your vegetable with salt, oil or honey. Parboil and cut your potatoes and then have them trayed up with duck fat so they are ready to be roasted on Christmas Day.
Make your turkey stock for gravy well in advance of Christmas Day ask your butcher for turkey trimmings and then boil them to make your stock.
Maybe have a light starter such as pre-sliced smoked salmon and tasty brown bread or a warm vegetable soup which can be made a day or two in advance which will save time and then reheat on Christmas Day.
A soup can be made with fresh vegetables, turkey stock and seasoning, bring to the boil until the vegetable are soft and give it a blitz to make your soup. You want to make sure you have room for your turkey and ham.
Leftovers are great for your dinner on St Stephen Day. You can have another Christmas Dinner or make something different with it like a curry. Use a curry powder, leftover vegetables, turkey and ham with some coconut milk. The boil up some rice and you’ll have a very tasty dinner.
The main piece of advance is to get everyone involved in preparing and cooking the Christmas Dinner as many hands make light work. Finally, enjoy the preparation as it is Christmas!