Is a stress-free festive season a pipe dream? No says expert Andrea Osborne, who suggests ten Islington ideas to banish any worries you may have

Christmas comes but once a year and often it is garnished with a lot of preparation (or not enough as the case might be), a lot of queuing and a flurry of last minute chores. So how can you put the cheer back into Christmas? Here are ten suggestions to keep that smile on your face…

Make a list

Take a leaf from Santa’s book, make a list and check it twice. Before you dive into shopping, write a gift list. Then, plan your route around the shops. The shopping centre ( or Camden Passage ( are great ways to tackle everyone at once. Other gems like Twentytwentyone (, wonderful for those ‘oh so difficult 20s’, or for fashionistas at heart Diverse is a good place to start.

Avoid peak times

The Resident: Twentytwentyone is perfect to find that ‘wow’ giftTwentytwentyone is perfect to find that ‘wow’ gift

If possible do your shopping during the week rather than at weekends. Monday mornings are good if you can manage some time off. Remember – if you need reminding – nowhere will be quiet on 24 December!

Clear that clutter

You can never avoid making a mess cooking Christmas dinner at home. However, clearing as much clutter from the kitchen beforehand will help keep a clear head and a clear surface for you to work with.

Take out the Turkey

Cut the hassle of cooking altogether and treat the family to a Christmas meal at The Canonbury pub ( or Almeida ( If you are hosting a bigger party, Ottolenghi ( offers catering services. Guests may guess it’s not all your own work, but who cares at Christmas.

Go non-traditional

The Resident: Forget about the stress of cooking and then cleaning, let The Canonbury take care of the Xmas dinnerForget about the stress of cooking and then cleaning, let The Canonbury take care of the Xmas dinner

You don’t have to do Christmas by the book every year. Sachertorte is a fabulous alternative to Christmas cake and impressive for visitors. You can order it from Kipferl (

Play your cards right

Printed cards are a good way of reminding anyone that you are thinking about them. Pearl & Black ( or Etc. in Camden Passage offer a bespoke collection of handmade cards. Remember to make it personal and add a message.

Scale back décor

Go easy on that tinsel – sometimes less is more. Substitute a door wreath for outdoor lighting, or a glorious table top tree for the needle shedding pine. Focus your holiday decor on one masterpiece and do it well. Dansk Flowers ( offer luxurious flowers which also make amazing decorations in themselves, but for the traditionalists check out Wildabout ( Plants and small posies make excellent gifts too – better than more soaps!

Organise your ‘out of office’

The Resident: Wildabout have a whole host of Christmas wreath ideasWildabout have a whole host of Christmas wreath ideas

If you run a business you definitely need a break. Make sure your opening hours are clear, email clients or put the dates on your website. Remember to tell everyone when you re-open! Cloud services are useful to access everything you need in case of an emergency or if the celebrations are too much and you need a sanity break!

Relax, it is Christmas

Whatever you do and however you do it, take time to enjoy yourself. Book a well-deserved beauty treatment or hair do. There are many fabulous salons like The Blow Bar ( – I love visiting Angelica Retreat ( for a relaxing massage.

Get some help!

When all else fails ask for help and for the ultimate stress-free experience this festive season you can call upon cushion the impact’s Christmas angels ( They will lend a hand with personal shopping, gift sourcing, writing cards or even wrapping gifts. They can even help prepare the house with a spot of decluttering or decorating, ready for your guests to arrive. Now you can put your feet up…

Andrea’s award winning company, cushion the impact, offers a helpful hand to anyone feeling overwhelmed by Christmas. For further enquiries call 020 3218 0053 or email