Let’s be honest. Hosting Christmas doesn’t come easily for everyone. For some busy mums and dads it can be more like running a marathon barefoot in February than a holiday – long, gloomy and downright painful at times! But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s our guide to surviving the big day.

 Fail to prepare...

...prepare to fail! Start your preparations as early as you can. Draw up lists for the different areas you’ll need to manage. One list for food ingredients; another list for drinks; another list for menu and cooking timings; another for guest arrivals and where they’re staying; another for gifts – and so on. Be sure to consult your lists regularly (you could, of course, put them all into a spreadsheet too), and to tick things off when they’re done.

Delegate cooking duties

The most common mistake people make when preparing for the 25th is trying to do it all themselves. Don’t fall into this trap! Remember that people like helping out – they enjoy prepping sprouts and peeling spuds. Make a clear plan of what you’re cooking and delegate responsibilities, make sure the kids know just how incredibly important their role is as Chief Potato Peeler and Head of Turkey Sandwiches. Divvy up the cooking responsibilities while you relax with a refreshing Coke, and you’ll feel more relaxed in no time.

Let people be 

One of the hardest things about Christmas Day for many hosts is that their guests often feel entitled to do exactly what they want to because it’s, well, Christmas. So full-grown adults can quickly turn into spoilt children. The easiest way to get around this is just to let people be. So Danny wants to play computer games but Lizzie wants to go for a walk? Fine. The family doesn’t have to be together the whole time. Allow time for people to do their own activities and you should be able to keep the peace.

Pamper yourself

It’s easy to get resentful about playing Mother or Father Christmas. It feels like you’re doing everythingwhile everyone else is relaxing. The best way to get around this is for you to relax too! In the days leading up to the holidays treat yourself to a restorative massage, trip to a spa, or something else you enjoy. And if your bank balance is looking a bit sorry for itself (whose isn’t at this time of year?) then pamper yourself at home with the help of a bubble bath, some candles and relaxing music. Remember that this is a holiday for you too!

Do it your way

Whether it’s your first time hosting or your tenth, the same rule applies: you can do it your way. Try not to get hung up on doing everything exactly as your parents did it. While we’re not suggesting you throw away the rulebook completely, it can be tempting to get carried away trying to keep up family traditions. Actually, people quite like change (even if they can’t admit it), so don’t be afraid to make your mark this Christmas – though be careful, do it too well and you could be hosting for years and years to come!