Tips for an Unforgettable Christmas
We all look forward to Christmas, but as soon as it’s over, the memories tend to fade or merge with all previous Christmases. Try these ideas for having the best Christmas Day
Give everyone a role
The more effort we put into what we do, the more easily we can remember what happened, as Fergus Craik and his colleagues discovered in their ground-breaking work on memory in the Seventies. If you’re the host, give each guest a specific role. Not only does this lighten your load, it also means guests will feel more involved - and remember more clearly what happens.
Alessandra Guida and Hubert Tardieu at the University of Paris have shown that personal associations enhance recall. Using this finding, the host could leave a special greeting and a small gift on each bed. They could also ask each guest to bring a special decoration of their own to hang on the tree.
Give fewer, more thoughtful gifts
The Harvard psychologist George Miller showed that humans can hold only about seven items in working memory at any one time. Showering people with presents may seem generous, but if you want them to remember what they receive, give less. Why not establish a Secret Santa, so each person is responsible for choosing a gift for just one other guest? That way, each gift will be of higher quality, overall cost will be reduced, and each offering will be appreciated and remembered more readily.
We pay more attention to unexpected events, and as a result, remember them more vividly. Therefore, why not change some of your traditions this year? For example, if in the past you opened stockings on Christmas morning, why not do so on Christmas Eve? Or if you always serve Christmas pudding, make a pavlova instead.
Capitalise on scent
Rachel Herz at Brown University found that scent enhances the recall of important events. Use candles, aromatherapy oils and freshly baked breads or cakes to intensify memories.
When we’re surrounded by distractions, we have less processing power available to focus on - and therefore recall - what really matters. During meals and other key events, make sure texts and emails are turned off.
Send a reminder
With so much stored virtually these days, we have fewer tangible reminders of the past. Yet studies of children and adults have shown that material reminders enhance recall more than other sort of prompts. Why not print out a few photos of your best Christmas moments and post them to guests after Christmas?
Even if you try only a couple of these suggestions, chances are everyone will find it easy and enjoyable to remember this Christmas.
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