Is it possible to have a truly happy Christmas?

how to have a happy Christmas

To paraphrase the famous song, I’m dreaming of a family Christmas, and I don’t mind if it is white or grey. I do mind however, that it all works out well for everyone. 

Last Christmas, our teens set up a casino in the living room, dressed up as croupiers, and had the adults as the guests. Great in theory, but when the teens disagreed on the rules, arguments ensued and Christmas was pretty much ruined.

The previous Christmas, one of the teens made a fuss over receiving a ‘wrong’ type of camcorder for a present. The Christmas before that, Hugo, my stepson, had a virus and my husband spent most of the day taking care of him. As Hugo started to feel better, we stepped out onto the terrace wrapped in blankets, sipping mulled wine, and saw Flip, our dog, collapsing into the pond having seizures. Flip was gone before the festivities were over, diagnosed with incurable brain cancer.

You won’t be too surprised if I tell you that I’m wary of Christmas. So how can we have a happier Christmas this year? For me, the two secrets are ‘giving’ and ‘gratitude’.

Research has found that doing kind deeds for others not only boosts your mood temporarily, but also leads to long-lasting happiness, as well as making other people feel good, too. Carrying out kind acts makes us feel more confident, in control and optimistic about our ability to make a difference. It may make us more positive about others and enable us to connect with them better, which also contributes to our happiness.

As a child, you probably remember having to write thank-you letters to friends and relatives who gave you presents. As an adult, this is probably not something you do as frequently, if at all. It’s not that you’re not thankful for the things you have in life, just that you don’t often stop to think about it.

In fact, expressing your gratitude for something or someone, whether verbally or in writing, is one of the simplest but most effective ways of increasing your happiness. There is overwhelming evidence to show that people with a grateful disposition are more enthusiastic, joyful, attentive, determined, interested, helpful, optimistic and energetic than those who aren’t. Grateful people have also been shown to be less depressed, anxious, lonely, envious and materialistic. So if you want a tried-and-tested method to increase your happiness, start counting those blessings.

There are numerous ways to express your gratitude, including the ‘Gratitude Visit’, which advises you to write a letter to someone who you feel grateful to and read it out loud to them. 

This year, I might put some blank cards by the Christmas tree for my family to write thank-you messages to each other. Then we can hang them on the tree and read them out loud on Christmas Day. Let’s just hope it all works out! If it doesn’t, I’ll have to take refuge in ‘three good things’, an iconic positive psychology technique that prompts us to be grateful for the things that went well. Given that its positive effects last as long as six months, it might keep me going until the summer.

More inspiration:

Read Positive Psychology In A Nutshell (McGraw Hill Education, £12.99)


Visit and click on ‘Strengths cards’ for an original gift

Log on to Santa who? by Sam Cleasby on LifeLabs

Photograph: plainpicture/Cultura

showing gratitude

Could practising gratitude, being grateful and appreciating life and loved ones improve our lives and make us happier? Many spiritual thinkers such as Eckhart Tolle believe so. Author and filmmaker Baptist de Pape explains how we can practice gratitude to open our hearts and live a happier life

by Ali Roff

by Psychologies

5 ways to a stress-free Christmas

Christmas can be a stressful time even for the most laid back amongst us. It is difficult not to succumb to the idealised media expectations of Christmas.

It is all too easy to put pressure on yourself to buy the ‘perfect’ gifts for everyone, decorate the house and tree ‘perfectly’, keep everyone in the family happy and entertained… and to keep looking glamorous in your sparkly festive outfit while cooking a ‘perfect’ Christmas meal!

Oh the pressure! And to make matters worse, all these expectations must be met on a single, 'perfect' day.

If you know you already have a tendency to be a perfectionist anyway, then the Christmas season can be an extra stressful time for you. 

Many of us have perfectionist tendencies, but there is a difference between out-of-control perfectionism and simply wanting to do things well or setting yourself high standards.  

You will know if your perfectionism is under control. You will have the ability to adjust your standards if you see that you have set them unrealistically high, you will be able to ask for help if you are struggling and, if things don’t turn out exactly the way you intended, you will be able to accept that it has been 'good enough'. If things go wrong you might even be able just to laugh it off.

But if you have such exacting standards for yourself and others that you find yourself worrying obsessively about small details, pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion in the pursuit of perfection, and getting upset when things do not go exactly to plan, then it is time to tackle your perfectionism.

Comparing your life unfavourably with the perfect lives you imagine other people are leading can lead to total burnout.

Here are five tips to help you have a 'good enough', happy Christmas:

1 Ask for help

Don’t take everything on yourself. Delegate tasks to other family members. Sharing the work of preparing for Christmas with your family will build a great team spirit and encourage everyone to take responsibility for and enjoy the success of the day.

2 Learn to say 'no'

Decide how much money you want to spend, how many parties or Christmas activities you want to attend and the amount of food you are willing to cook. If other people are determined to be disappointed, let them be. If family members want three choices of pudding, let them cook! It is not your job to keep everyone happy. Overcommitting ourselves is one of the greatest contributors to holiday stress.

3 Christmas Disaster Scale

Use this scale to help you keep perspective. Imagine a disaster scale of 1-100 of everything that could go wrong at Christmas. Think what would have to happen for you to give this a score of 100. Use this scale if you start to get things out of proportion.

Imagine it’s Christmas Eve, the shops have shut and you forgot to buy grandma’s special sweet sherry.What score would you give this on your Christmas Disaster Scale?

4 All I want for Christmas

Remember that it’s your Christmas too! Write your own Christmas list for yourself. What do you want from the festive season for you? Include things you would like to do, gifts you would like to give yourself, how you would like to be treated, what you need to feel relaxed and happy.

5 Aim for 'good enough'

Divide tasks to do into Must Do, Could Do, and Should Do. Focus on the Must Do and let go of all of the Could Do tasks. It will be a great relief and no-one will know about those extra little touches you realised you could not get round to. 

In the great scheme of things, at a time when we are all supposed to be thinking about what life really means, do we really want to be worrying about mismatching plates or overdone parsnips? Or should we be thinking about being present for those we love? 

Kim Morgan’s Coaching Cards for Christmas contain 45 festive questions to spark fun, family conversations and 5 top tips for staying merry and bright whatever the holiday season throws at you. Available now from Amazon and


Barefoot Coaching is offering Psychologies readers two packs of Coaching Cards for Christmas – one to keep and one to give as a gift – for £25 when bought via (RRP £15 per pack).

Photograph: iStock

Better You

by Psychologies

Reinventing your Christmas mindset

“I never knew that being truly present was the best present I could give myself”

Lucie Ann Trickett, 33, artist:

"My career as a secondary school teacher meant the Christmas period was always stressful. The lead-up was crammed with school activities, assessments and deadlines, so the festive season was more overwhelming and exhausting than the rest of the school year. The pressure to make the most of the two weeks off always left me feeling disappointed, and more drained than before. 

Last year was a particularly difficult Christmas. My mother had died in the April, leaving me heartbroken and numb. The thought of Christmas became unbearable, which led me to seek ways to find peace and solace over the holiday. I left my teaching job and attended various workshops and retreats through Psychologies, even taking part in the 12-week Artist’s Way course, which boosted my creativity tenfold. I began to reconnect with my passion for painting, something I hadn’t done since college. Art was always something that came naturally to me, yet the busyness of life led me to view creativity as an indulgence, not a necessity for my wellbeing. 

My shift in perspective had a huge impact on how I experienced Christmas. It taught me to slow down, take notice and simply enjoy ‘being’ instead of ‘doing’ all the time. I started to take inspiration from the frosty mornings, crisp evergreens and bright berries that surrounded my home. Everything I could see, touch and feel became a stimulus. Finding those quiet moments in which I could switch off and paint helped me to balance the usual Christmas frenzy, which would have swept me away before.

Art became a way for me to relax and express my feelings. I struggled with meditation and other mindful activities because meditating while grieving can be painful. Painting was a wonderful alternative, helping me to be mindful in a focused and creative way. When I’m painting, I’m completely in the moment, physically and emotionally but within the safety of the creative process. Art has dramatically changed the way I experience the festive season, and the way I live my life. 

I opened my own Etsy shop last year and I am excited to be working with interior designers and architects from across the UK to create bespoke artworks for clients. I never knew that being truly present was the best present I could give myself."

See more at

“We keep it minimalist and low key, and we don’t spend a fortune on presents”

Helene Jewell, 43, workshop facilitator 

Growing up, we had traditional family Christmases, with a big meal and lots of presents. I enjoyed it when I was younger, but things got more complicated, especially after my parents split up when I was 20. As you get older, you’re aware of the politics involved, who you need to see, and all the work that goes into it. It’s not that simple any more. Between 1999 and 2004, I spent three Christmases in Nepal while working as a speech and language therapist – and they were the most amazing Christmases I’d ever had. Nepal was a Hindu kingdom then, so there was no sign of Christmas: no decorations, tinsel or cards.

My colleagues knew about Christmas, in the same way that I know about Diwali or Eid, but it wasn’t something they thought about. It made the festive experience so much nicer – more thoughtful and less materialistic. I’d get together with some Western friends and have a meal, but there was no pressure or expectations.

After I got back, I found the Christmas commercialism disgusting, so I had a few years of ‘minimal’ Christmases. That first year, I spent Christmas in Amsterdam with friends from my Nepal days, and I felt like such a rebel! In 2007, my daughter was born – on Christmas Day, funnily enough – and, once you have children, Christmas is a different experience. We’ve gone back to a traditional family Christmas, with birthday cake in the afternoon, but we keep it minimalist and low key, and we don’t spend a fortune on presents. 

When you live in a developing country, you become aware of our greed and over-the-top approach to Christmas. I want my children to understand that you don’t have to spend masses to enjoy it; that it’s about being in the moment and enjoying the small things. I sometimes feel it’s a battle to fi ght the tide, then I remember the kids and try not to be so ‘bah humbug’ – although I do think if we didn’t have kids, I’d go and hide on top of a mountain somewhere! 

See more at

“I have four days to prepare for Christmas!”

Lucie Ellen Beeston, 34, Jewellery maker

The run-up to Christmas is crazy at work. The big shops start placing orders in September, and I also have to stock my shop, get items made and photographed and online by mid-October. Then, it’s pretty much solid work for two months with no time off. I work in a studio in my garden, and usually I’m in there at 9am but, as we approach Christmas, I start at 7am. I work until 7pm, have dinner, and then do more work.

Work finishes on the last posting day, around 21 December, so I have only four days to prepare for my own Christmas! A couple of years ago, I realised I wanted a better work-life balance. It’s difficult when you work for yourself, because you feel you have to work all the time – especially in this industry when a third or more of my income comes over the festive period. If it’s making you poorly or anxious, it isn’t good. 

Now, I make sure I keep up with exercise and I ensure I eat well. I save nice tasks for the end of the day – like painting and varnishing jewellery, which I can do while listening to the radio, so I have a more chilled-out evening. I try and stop work an hour before I go to bed and do an activity such as embroidery or reading, so I’m properly wound down before I sleep. 

I don’t have a specific mindfulness practice – I think, for me, it’s just about always having in the back of my mind the things that are truly important. Last year was my most successfully mindful Christmas yet. I got to the 21st and I didn’t feel burned out, but I felt like I’d done my best. That really helped me switch o and be able to enjoy my Christmas. This year, I’ve got the additional pressure of opening a physical shop, Venner, which is probably the most stressful thing I’ve ever done. 

I simply have to keep reminding myself to stop sometimes and to look after myself properly because, while my work is important to me – and it really is – there’s no point killing yourself in the process.

See more at

Discover more from etsy's gift guide here.

Pictures: iStock and Rebecca Lupton

Better You

by Psychologies

A little something from me... to me, with love from Etsy

Getting caught up in the flurry of festive activity at this time of year is very easy. There’s often so much to do, a house to prepare, decorations to put up, gifts to buy and meals to cook. Our focus is admirably so much on others – those less fortunate as well as our loved ones – that we promptly forget to look after ourselves.

When you’re busy, it’s especially important to find time in the day to breathe, relax and pay attention to your own wellbeing. Top up the well and you can keep giving in that wonderful Christmas atmosphere of goodwill. It needn’t be a luxury, in fact it should be part of your daily routine.

You might like to light your favourite candle, and sit and enjoy the warm scent. Or soak in a deep bath and use a special natural scrub. Even if it feels indulgent to book in time with yourself, allow space for it and you’ll quickly feel the benefits on your mood and your reactions to everyday things. You will find yourself gently thanking the universe for the spectacular coating of frost in the morning or the delicate flavours in your coffee. These are the moments to meditate on.

Remember to focus on your senses. Even when it comes to material things, imagine where the carefully selected items around you have come from, and the hands that have crafted them.

Take these precious times for yourself, then re-emerge from your solitude to the frivolity of friends and family with a grateful heart and a renewed sense of peace.

Try these, from Etsy:

“My stars and constellations diary is great at helping me plan and get excited for the year ahead. I still love noting all my appointments, meetings and events in a lovely paper-bound diary, as the process of writing them in helps me to remember exactly what I’m up to. It also acts as a nice reflection and memory journal that I enjoy flicking through years later.”

Nikki at

“Jamie and I love making these; each one is folded by hand into a star. From our feedback, people love receiving a little jar full of them. Every wishing star opens to reveal a tiny wish of good fortune or things to make you happy. The wishes have been given a Bread & Jam twist of humour, and can be used when you need a little pick-me-up.”

Catherine at

“Our gorgeous bath salts make me feel great. Their petals float to the top of the bath water, so it feels like you’re having a luxury spa treat, and they also contain muscle-relaxing Epsom salts. They’re 100 per cent natural, vegan and cruelty-free – so you can feel guilt-free about using them, too!”

Sophie at

“I adore the yoga eye pillow, because all of the ingredients are natural. It’s great to use after a stressful day. I like to lie down in a quiet room and pop it over my eyes. It’s important to give yourself that wind-down time after a hard day, as both work and home life can be so demanding.”

Sarah at

“When I need a wonderful self-pamper session, I like to use our luxurious and award-winning ‘The Meadow’ 3-in-1 exfoliating, cleansing and moisturising sugar scrub – the all-natural exfoliants banish dry skin while the pure lavender, rose geranium and camomile essential oils put me into a blissful state of relaxation.”

Preyanka at

Find more inspiration in the Etsy gift guide, here.

Main image: iStock

Better You

by Psychologies

Festive inspiration at The Frosted Fairground, Dreamland

Dreamland in Margate is set to become the number one destination for Christmas in Kent as it transforms into The Frosted Fairground. Newly re-landscaped and with new features for 2017, the amusement park will open on the first two weekends in December, then every day from 16 December until January 3 2018 (closed on Christmas Day).  

  • Reconnect with the fun of childhood ice skating, or create new memories – a large real ice rink will be at the amusement park throughout the Christmas period.
  • There will be a special appearance by favourite Christmas characters The Snowman™ and The Snowdog – perfect for children and those young at heart.
  • The Frosted Fairground will have a grotto experience, live music and a special seasonal food and drink offering.
  • See the amusement park covered with thousands of twinkling lights and try the vintage rides.

Rebecca Ellis, Senior Creative Producer at Dreamland Margate, said: ‘It’s been a very exciting year at Dreamland and ending it by providing an amazing festive experience at the park is really important to us.’

Find out more and buy your wristbands or tickets, here.


by Psychologies

Etsy: gifts made with love

The festive season brings with it much anticipation and emotion. Schooled by nostalgic images of Christmases past, we dream of creating the ‘perfect’ celebration, so we indulge in great expectations, which goes hand in hand with soaring stress levels.

But if we just tune into one of the real meanings of this time of year – to show those we love how grateful we are to have them in our lives – we can focus on an aspect of the festivities that is guaranteed to boost our own happiness, too.

Research has found that carrying out kind acts makes us feel more confident, in control and optimistic about our ability to make a difference to people’s lives and connect with them better. Christmas gives us the perfect opportunity to do this.

This year, Psychologies has teamed up with Etsy – the only place where you can find special, unique, one-of-a-kind presents created with love – to bring you a gift guide with a difference. Take a look at our choices for the important people in our lives and let it inspire you to really think about what you can give your loved ones, to say thank you, to show appreciation, to spread joy. Get ready to ‘have yourself a merry little Christmas’.

Gifts we love

Suzy Greaves – editor

“I want to say thank you to my son, Charlie, who has just turned 14, and who has chosen not to go to the teenage dark side but instead, to be kind, supportive and make his old mum laugh on a day-to-day basis. ‘Create not consume’ is one of our mantras, so I think a branding pack for the new, inspirational YouTube channel he is setting up is just the ticket.”

Branding package, £80, RiverAndTree.

Danielle Woodward – Associate editor

“For my husband, who can’t function without his cup of coffee in the morning and who credits his cuppa as getting him through the last six years of being a stay-at-home dad! Thank you for all your care and nurturing of our children – and for doing the dishes so much more thoroughly than me.”

Mug, £22, XimenaHeasmanCeramic  

Vanessa Sey – Production editor

“For my daughter Fjora... Some of us are shoe girls but you’re definitely a handbag girl. I hope you like this one for when you go to university next year. I know it’s a practical gift rather than a sentimental one – but never think you aren’t the love of my life!”

Charlotte backpack, £270, KayKGoods

Eminé Rushton – Wellbeing director at large 

“There’s nothing like a natural scented candle to create a calming atmosphere for meditation, so I’ll be giving this one to my husband, Paul; every night he turns o  the lights, lights a candle, and sinks into a little meditation to round o  the day. It’s a lovely ritual to add to your day at any time of year, but it’s particularly lovely in winter, when your body and soul are in need of warmth and comfort.”

Fleurie soy lavender candle, from £37, OrganicCocoon

Ali Roff – Editor at large

“Mum, I feel so lucky to have you in my life. I remember the beautiful paintings you used to create when my sister and I were growing up and watercolours always remind me of you. This one would look beautiful in your kitchen. Thank you for always being a source of creativity and for nurturing it within me.” 

Celestial Flower watercolour painting, £13.50, CreativeIngrid

Laura Doherty – Creative director

“This bracelet is a perfect gift for a wonderful friend who has been a huge support to me during a difficult time. She has been a constant little ray of sunlight through a cloudy patch, always thoughtful, always caring and always there. I would like to say thank you for her unshakeable support. Every cloud has a silver, or gold, lining – it’s true!”

Cloud bracelet, £31, Bijouxeliseetmoi

Ellen Tout – Features writer and digital editor

“I know this funny yoga mug would make my best friend, Katie, smile. We’ve been friends since we were 11 years old and she’s like a sister to me. We’re just as comfortable meeting for drinks as we are laughing at each other attempting to bend over on our yoga mats into a failed headstand! Through all the ups and downs we’ve experienced, I’m incredibly grateful to have her friendship in my life.”

Yoga mug, £11, OfLifeAndLemons

Elizabeth Heathcote – Features director

“I’d like to buy these cosy welly socks for my friend whom I go walking with. We both have dogs and they are best buddies. We try to make time each weekend for a long walk around the beautiful parks and woods where we live, and we talk all the way, catching up on each other’s week; how work has been, what is going on with our partners and children and anything else. To me, this sharing of our lives, this companionship we are lucky enough to have, is one of the great joys life has to offer.” 

Bow knee-high socks, £9.50, CocoandWolf

Lynne Lanning – Design director

“My sister has struggled with ME and chronic fatigue for 19 years but she is very creative and adores pretty things. I think this necklace personifies her love of nature and beauty and I hope it will lift her spirits when she wears it.”

Floral statement bib necklace, from £34, RosaPietsc

Click here for more inspiration and gifts from Etsy.

Photograph: iStock

what's your giving style

When it comes to planning and shopping for gifts, some people see it as a chore that needs to be completed as quickly and painlessly as possible. For others, it's the hunt for that rare 'perfect' gift. Which category do you fall into? Answer the questions below and find out

by Psychologies

by Psychologies

'Pick Me Up' cold brew mocktail

Looking for a fancy mocktail to throw into the mix this Christmas? Try this cold brew tipple from Highland Spring and wellbeing expert Calgary Avansino.

This 'Pick Me Up' mocktail includes cold brew coffee as well as Highland Spring sparkling water, which is a healthy alternative to traditional sugary mixers. Calgary offers some advice about the mixers we use in our festive drinks. 

'When you’re mixing spirits, use it as an opportunity to curb how much sugar you’re consuming. Rather than having lemonade, sodas, fruit juices or sweetened mixers, try sparkling water instead with some lemon or lime squeezed in.

'And stay away from colorful mixed drinks, frozen 'dessert' drinks and after-dinner liqueurs - they are all packed with sugar.'

Here's the ingredients and method needed to create your own cold brew mocktail...


  • 50ml cold brew coffee
  • 50ml Highland Spring sparkling water
  • 1 tsp agave syrup
  • Cinnamon stick & orange wedge to garnish


Swirl the agave and the cold brew in the bottom of a wine glass to mix, add ice and lengthen with Highland Spring sparkling water. Garnish with an orange wedge and cinnamon stick.

Check out what else we have in our food section to wow your friends and family this festive season.


by Psychologies

Ginger beer mustard glazed ham

Ginger beer mustard glazed ham

Perfect for Boxing Day, this tender ham is covered in a sweet and sticky ginger beer and mustard glaze - sure to help with the sadness of Christmas Day being over for another year. 

Try this spicy ginger beer mustard glazed ham recipe this festive season.


  • 1½ kg smoked boneless gammon joint with a good layer of fat covering

For the glaze

  • 3 cans (990ml) old Jamaica or similar fiery ginger beer
  • 150ml bourbon or whisky, whatever kind you have or like best
  • Juice of 4 oranges and the zest of 2 (approximately 400ml)
  • 500g soft dark brown sugar
  • 1 large thumb sliced ginger
  • 6 tbsp French’s Classic Yellow Mustard


1. Place the ginger beer, sugar and ginger in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring all the time until the sugar dissolves.

2. Add in the orange juice and zest and continue to boil, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced by about a third and is becoming stickier. Whisk in the mustard and continue to cook until the glaze has reduced a little more and is becoming sticky, coating the back of a spoon and shiny. Remove from the heat, immediately whisk in the booze if using and allow to cool a little.

3. Place the gammon in a large pot of cold unsalted water (making sure it is submerged) and bring to a boil as fast as you can, drain off the water and do the same again, this will remove any excess salt from the gammon and saves you soaking it over night the old-fashioned way.

4. Turn down to a simmer and cook for around 45-60 minutes or until a knife goes in and out easily and the meat feels tender.

5. Remove and place in a tray lined with greaseproof paper (this will make your washing up easier later).

6. If the gammon has skin use a small knife to remove it, keeping as much fat as possible still on the meat.

7. Pour over a third of the glaze, making sure to cover the surface well (I use a pastry brush to help).

8. Place in your preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until bubbly and starting to brown. Repeat the glazing and baking process twice more, reserving just a tablespoon or two of the glaze at the end.

9. Bake the final time until the gammon is burnished and crispy with glaze. Take it out of the oven and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before brushing over the last tablespoon or two of glaze to give it an attractive shine and serving.

French's has a selection of mustards, including the classic yellow mustard in this recipe, at 


by Psychologies

Low-sugar margarita cocktail

Low-sugar margarita cocktail

Perfect for party season, this delicious margarita cocktail includes Highland Spring sparkling water - the healthy alternative to traditional sugary mixers.

The company has teamed up with wellbeing expert Calgary Avansino to create a selection of refreshing Christmas cocktails, as well as giving some sound advice on keeping hydrated.

Calgary said: 'Alcohol is extremely dehydrating, so if you are drinking, it is always a good idea to ensure that you’re hydrating healthily and adding a glass of water between each drink. Not only will it help you rehydrate but it will also help prevent a stinking hangover the next day and will likely stop you drinking quite so much alcohol, meaning the night out will cost you less too.

'And when you get home, drink a large glass of water with the juice of half a lemon squeezed in – it works for a speedier recovery!'

Try this low-sugar margarita cocktail made with Higland Spring sparkling water.


  • Enough sea salt flakes to cover the bottom of a small plate
  • 50ml larger shot size or 25ml smaller shot size of tequila
  • 3 tbsp (1 ounce) lime juice
  • ¼ tsp orange extract
  • ½ tsp stevia (natural sweetener)
  • Small handful of ice
  • 2 tbsp Highland Spring sparkling water
  • Slice of lime, to serve


Wet the rim of a margarita glass with water and dip it into a plate of salt to create your rim of salt. Next, combine the tequila, lime juice (freshly squeezed is best), orange extract, stevia and ice. Shake it all up in a cocktail mixer until combined. Then add the Highland Spring sparkling water at the end. Serve with a slice of lime.

Check out what else we have in our food section to wow your friends and family this festive season.

drinking too much

Is that nightly glass of pinot grigio affecting your mood? You might think it is making you feel happier, but what if it’s really making you feel more like the glass is half empty? Sandra Newington suspected it might be the latter in her case

by Psychologies

by Psychologies

How to make a cup of festive chai

How to make a cup of festive chai

Recreate an authentic chai experience at home, on the hob, with this recipe from Rickshaw Travel. The ingredients are naturally festive, with cinnamon stick and cloves adding a warmth and sweetness.

Despite ‘chai’ merely meaning ‘tea’ in Hindi, Westerners have adopted the term as a short hand for the full masala mix – that is, the unique blend of spices that give chai its delicious aroma. In India, roadsides are dotted with chai wallahs who serve the tea boiled up with spices, sugar and milk.

Give this festive chai recipe a go for a resorative cup for yourself and the family, or as a spicy addition to food recipes. 

Makes 1 litre


  • 5 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon whole red peppercorns
  • 1 orange peel
  • 20 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 60 whole crushed green cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 star anise
  • 4 inches of fresh ginger peeled and crushed
  • 4-6 teaspoons of brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons of vanilla extract
  • ½ cup of loose black tea or 12 black teabags


1. Make a festive chai concentrate

2. Place all ingredients aside from the tea into a wide saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for an hour. Remove from heat and add the tea. Let steep for 10 minutes.

3. Strain entire mixture through a sieve into an airtight container and store in fridge for up to a week.

To serve

Heat ½ cup of festive chai concentrate with ½ cup of whole milk, almond milk or coconut milk. Once hot, pour into a mug, sprinkle with cinnamon and get comfy!


by Psychologies