Christmas can be a stressful time of year. The expense of buying gifts, the pressure of last minute shopping, and the heightened expectations of family togetherness can all combine to undermine our best intentions. Here are some practical suggestions can help you reduce your ‘Christmas stress’, and enjoy the holiday season.

1. Chill a bottle of bubbly quickly
Oh No! Did you forget to put the Champaign in the fridge to chill? Don’t stress, just wrap the bottle securely in a damp tea towel, then pop it into the freezer. Yes, science is actually useful, and it has taught us that heat travels more quickly through condensed materials (the damp tea towel) than through the air, therefore, the converted bubbly will be ice-cold and ready to pour within 20 minutes.

2. Always win at Christmas crackers
If you never get your hands on that desirable key ring bottle opener, here’s what to do. Hold your end of the cracker slightly lower than your adversaries, it should now be tilting towards you. Try for a slow, measured pull, with minimum turning. It’s always a good lesson for the kid’s to learn that they can’t always win.

3. Make friends with your freezer
It might think it premature to consider your Christmas dinner, however there are a number of dishes can be prepared ahead of time, thus saving you time on the big day. Potatoes, parsnips and stuffing can all be cooked and frozen, then defrosted and reheated in the oven on Xmas day itself. As for red cabbage – it truly tastes much better if you make it a few days before, and leave it in the fridge for the flavours to develop and heighten.

4. Save money on wrapping paper
Christmas wrapping paper can be pricey, especially if you have a lot of presents to wrap. In its place, use brown paper and some string. Your presents will look both charmingly old-fashioned and restrained.

5. And for next year…
Here’s a useful tip when you take down the Christmas lights. Instead of just plunking them in a box, wrap them around a coat hanger, or similar device, and next time when you pull them out to hang out, they won’t tangle up, thus starting your Xmas journey on a good, stress free note.

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