When Thomas Oliphant declared back in 1862 that ‘Christmas ‘tis the season to be jolly’, it seems a few misheard. Sure he told us to “feed the mead cup and drain the barrel”, and he quite rightly shared that we should “join the chorus” and follow him in “merry measure”, but the Scottish lyricist never said anything about being silly. Deck the Halls was about merriment and laughter, not foolishness and overindulgence.
Yet we’ve all heard the stories. You know the ones - the usually shy employee who suddenly breaks out with an impromptu karaoke performance on a table at the office Christmas party; the demure wife-to-be suddenly let’s rip on her future mother-in-law; the normally health-conscious fitness freak never leaves the dessert table. We’ve all witnessed it, we’ve all done it - for some reason, Christmas makes us do crazy things. That’s why Christmas is so aptly referred to as the ‘silly season’.
There’s nothing bad about a little bit of silly. After all, you’ve worked hard all year, so why not let your hair down? But what happens when you get “too” silly? Are you prepared to undo all that hard work with just one silly mistake caused by overindulging? If not, then read on for some tips on how to curb your sillies this season.
How to avoid being “too” silly during the silly season
Christmas can be a hugely demanding time on our calendars, and between staff parties, family gatherings and catch ups with friends it can seem like you’re permanently out on the town. While it’s great to join in the yuletide fun, too much fun can have damaging effects on your health and before you know it you could be spending your holidays with an aching stomach and lying in bed with a food or drink hangover.
But with careful planning, you can still have fun but avoid being:
The out of control partier
It’s quite common for people to over-indulge at Christmas when they don’t monitor their drinks, they don’t eat right, and they don’t ensure they stay hydrated with water.
There are certain rules that one should follow when enjoying a night on alcohol.
- Eat first
Having food in the stomach slows the absorption of alcohol into your blood. This reduces the amount of alcohol that reaches your brain, and gives your body more time to process the toxins. An added bonus is that having eaten a good meal, you’re less likely to end up in the late-night kebab shop.
- Pace yourself
Your body metabolises an estimated 1 standard drink each hour, and when you’re drinking more than that your body can’t keep up. Try to stick to one alcoholic drink an hour.
- Order water
For every alcoholic drink you buy or pour, be sure to get a water too. This offsets the water losses caused by alcohol’s antidiuretic properties, and can greatly reduce the extent of your dehydration. Why not go one step further and mix soda water with your beverages.
- Avoid mixing alcohol with energy drinks
Alcohol is a sedative and too much of it makes you sleepy and tired - your body’s way of telling you you’ve had enough. Energy drinks delay this response by keeping you alert and stimulated for longer, which ultimately means you drink more. Red Bull might give you wings, but it can also give you one almighty hangover.
- Stay hydrated
Hydration is the most important rule when it comes to sensible drinking, as a large part of any hangover is the body’s lack of water. Prepare yourself before you go out by drinking lots of water, top up your water throughout the night, and add some electrolyte powder to a glass of water before bed to restore your body’s optimal fluid.
The food stalker
When you’ve been eating healthy all year, it seems crazy to think that you’ll hover around the buffet come Christmas ... but that’s exactly what so many people find themselves doing. Christmas buffets and dinnertables have plenty of tempting options, and if you’re not paying attention you can quickly find yourself 10 mince pies deep.
To stem overeating, try:
- Eating before you go
Arriving at a party hungry is asking for trouble, so aim to eat something light before you go. That way you can still enjoy a couple of samples, but your chance of dining on high calorie party food all night is dramatically reduced.
- Packing your own snacks
If you’re visiting the family and are worried about the foods that will be on offer, pack your own nutritious snacks. Healthy snacks include tubs of reduced fat yoghurt, wholegrain cereal and trail mix.
- Watch your portions
If you’re watching your portion size, then Christmas doesn’t have to be about missing out. Remember, you shouldn’t be out to lose weight during the festive season - your goal should be to maintain it. If you’re worried about finishing everything that’s in front of you, fill a smaller side plate instead of a dinner plate.
- Exercise lightly after eating
Go for a walk after Christmas lunch, or play a game of cricket with the family to get yourself up and moving after that big meal!
The New Year zombie
If you say yes to every single party and gathering, you’ll be a walking zombie by the time the New Year rolls around. Try to remember that it’s okay to say no sometimes, and try not to get too caught up in the Christmas hype. The expense of buying gifts, the pressure of last minute shopping, the heightened expectations of family togetherness - it can all get pretty stressful!
To refrain from turning into a New Year zombie, try:
- Planning ahead
Work out a rough budget of expected Christmas costs as early as possible, and start saving a small amount aside each week. If you don’t have enough time to build up a good nest egg, consider re-budgeting your Christmas costs. Also try to buy early so you’re not having to squeeze in work and shopping before your festive soiree.
- Setting limits
Determine what you think is a reasonable amount of time to spend partying, and limit yourself to a selection of planned events. If the friends want to get together for an impromptu drink at the pub, say no. Take this time to chill out and recoup your energy.
If it’s your turn to host Christmas dinner, don’t try to tackle it on your own. Delegate tasks and get everyone to bring a plate. Also buy start buying non-perishable items a few weeks before the big day.
- Get some sleep
Plan for as many early nights as you can to make up for the late ones you’ll be having. Make your bedroom as comfortable as it can be to promote deeper sleep, and enjoy long lie-ins (or lazy morning snuggles!) when you can.