Start by changing your thinking about Christmas right now. Notice what you are feeling negative about. Change what you can and decide on a survival strategy for the rest. The latter should not solely focus on alcohol, overeating and fighting with the relatives. 2nd Dec Plan to be imperfect – don’t set your standards so high that you end up feeling like you have failed. Aim for ‘good enough’. This advice may not apply to your spouse’s Christmas present so later advent tips will suggest wonderful Christmas gifts. 3rd Dec Start now to anticipate the best. We know Optimism leads to success so choose what you are looking forward to, e.g. the taste of mulled wine, the switching on of the Christmas lights inTrafalgar Square today or spending time with the people you love. Expect the best. Focus on the real delights and ignore the weather, crowds and global economy . . . . . . at least for a moment. 4th Dec In my family we are exhorted each year to put items like books and CDs on an online Wish List. My suggestion is that you develop your own Amazing Wish Lists for everyone at Christmas. What would people really want that you can give them – your time, your attention? Rather than giving ’stuff’, give experiences that can be shared and treasured. I have more fun taking my nieces and nephews to the Pantomime than I do giving them the next fashionable plastic thing. It might take more time and even more money but the research would tell us that it will contribute hugely to the well being and happiness of all. 5th Dec When coaching, I ask people to list everything they HAVE to do in a working day: cue endless list and lots of pressure. I then check ‘have to’ or ‘want to’. Before Christmas we are often driven by similar lists in our head. Make choices about what is important. Decide whether you have to or want to. You may want to make your own mincemeat but shops sell stuff just as good or have to clear your desk before the holiday but do you have to? That chore may be a positive choice and the choice is yours. 6th Dec Take time to breathe in Christmas through the sense – the smell of pine needles, cinnamon, frankincense, the glittering lights, the sounds of carols. Savouring through all the sense builds the experience of pleasure. It makes it easier to cope with the rain and the gloomy afternoons. 7th Dec This is about the time to renounce any whiff of cynicism and adopt a childlike attitude to Christmas. (Note I didn’t say ‘childish’ – more of that later.) One department store’s 2009 Christmas advert depicts children receiving adult, boring gifts and reacting with creative glee. Release that inner child. See everything afresh and delight in the possible.