"It's that most wonderful time, of the year" - so the song goes.  Another song starts "Christmas night, another fight, Tears we cried a flood, Got all kinds of poison in, Poison in my blood".  Which do you resonate with most?

I'm sure we can all recall less than festive feelings at Christmas, that time of joy and happiness, then soured for ever because we have over-projected, or focused on a made up outcome in our heads.  In fact, when we stand back, the 7 lessons below stand firm all year - Christmas, family holidays, parties, even an evening out.  So if you are reading this in June, and wonder what relevance it has, stick with it, and all will make sense - even if it is a little bias towards turkey and tinsel!

Brigid Elsken Galloway identifies 7 great strategies to stay sane over the coming days, and here they are with our own take on them to bring some Serenity to you...

1. Sanity Savers - make sure you remember your own self and peaceful preservation.  Be it a bubble bath (as Brigid suggests) or taking time out to stick to your meditation, yoga or running regime.  You never know, your house guests may be inspired by your time out.

2. Reel In Your Expectations - There is no such thing as a perfect day.  Something unexpected will happen, someone will make a howler with a present, the meal will go wrong, maybe no-one will be used to gravy without lumps in? What is, is what is - don't fret, you exploding in anger is more likely to be a more memorable event than over-cooked carrots.

3. Keep A Meltdown Journal - hopefully you will not need it too often, however, when you do finally break under the strain and emotion of it all, write down all the circumstances which surrounded the meltdown and how you were feeling (physically and mentally).  Over time, this will not only allow you to examine the situations as they arise, but also to check your patterns of behaviour, and deal with melt-down situations differently. It is also a great opportunity for reflection, and a way to make amends very quickly.

4. Leave Your Motives At The Door - Or even better, don't expect at all.  Don't expect an overwhelming reaction, or even thanks.  Whilst that may sound a little tough, whilst everyone are keen to fill their own plates, fight over the sprouts, (maybe putting them back, although in our house, they are always in great demand) and start eating, don't expect praise heaped as you settle down to the burnt parsnip which is left, and a handful of cold peas.  Any appreciation is a gift, and we shouldn't really expect endless gifts.

5. Own Your Inner Grinch - Do you feel you have given more than you received, bought better presents spent more?  Who knows?  Who ever bought what they bought, did so for a good reason (including yourself) so don't worry about outdoing each other with presents - it's a time for giving, not a time for comparing.

6. Break With Tradition - Simple to say, not as easy to do.  Aiming to get through a bottle of port every Christmas Day is likely to cloud your judgement by around 6pm! Similarly, if ever year, in the evening, you feel stuffed, uncomfortable, almost ready to burst, then perhaps check your consumption.  If you don't want to feel sick, stop shovelling sweets into your mouth like Augustus Gloop!  Similarly, music, flavours, aromas, and clothing can stir up old memories.  Avoid being a martyr to these - if the smell of boiling cabbage brings back sadness about your Granny, don't boil cabbage - she wouldn't have wanted you to be sad would she?

7. Be Mindful For Goodness Sake - For the goodness of yourself and your health.  A slight pause before taking that sweet, asking for more or casually stretching out that hand towards more food may be enough to give you a conscience check.  Brigid suggests putting a post-it with 'WHY' written on it on your fridge.  Give yourself a chance, and don't be overwhelmed with regret (and a lot harder work) on 1st January.

If just one of these 7 tips makes your time easier, then great, that is the aim.  Meanwhile, I am off to hide the in of Quality Street chocolates from myself!