Christmas is, by far, one of the busiest times of the year. There is just so much to do over the festive period and if you are hosting Christmas, there is a tonne to do. No one said that it would be easy!! Amongst getting your own house in order, there is normally a magnitude of parties to go to and social gatherings that kind of make you feel that there is just no time!
However, with a little preparation, you can lighten the load and make sure that you spend quality time with the family and not worry about something that you may have missed along the way. Here’s our rough guide on how to get through it.
Start of December
By now, you should almost certainly know where you are going to be spending Christmas Day. In turn, this means, that you should know who you are going to need to buy presents for. To make sure that you have got this area covered it is worth writing two lists: – One for the people that you will see on Christmas Day & one for those that you won’t. This is to make sure that those who you are not seeing, you can allow time to post the presents if you’re not likely to bump into them over the holidays. Click here for this years last posting dates from the Royal Mail. And it’s also worth getting in some wrapping paper at this point too! Also whilst you are scurrying around the shops – make sure you get some batteries for any toys!
This is one is certainly a task that you will want to get out of the way early on in the month so you are not worrying about it when you have more pressing tasks to get done. If you have the time, making your own cards it is great family activity. Check out this article on some that you can make with the Children.
You cannot forget the tree! Oh how important this one is. Definitely one to do over the first two weeks of December. There are also some great tree farms over the UK where you can go and buy your tree and have a wonderful experience. Many of them offer tractor rides, mulled wine and other entertainment – a great morning out. It’s also quite magical for the little ones to go and choose the tree in a field and then decorate it when you get home.
As well as decorating the tree, there are also lots of decorations to put up around the house. This is probably best done at the same time as putting the tree up as you will have most of the decorations out already. Also, depending on the colour scheme that you are going for, you may realise that you need a few extras for the dining area. You will want to try and get these whilst you are in the decorating spirit!
The Food (and of course the Turkey)!
This is most likely the most important purchase that you are going to make over the Christmas period and it is not one that you want to get wrong. So many people leave it until the last minute to get their Turkey’s and are disappointed when they go to the shops and realise that they are not going to get what they want. We recommend ordering ahead of the rush. Waitrose & Partners accept orders up until the 15th December for collection between the 20 & 24th December. If you can’t bare the shops during this busy period, you can always opt to collect your other groceries at the same time as picking up your turkey. Or even arrange for the rest of your groceries to be delivered so you can get in and out of town as quickly as possible.
There’s no doubt that the masses will be descending on the shops right about now. And the last thing that you want to be doing is going to the shops to buy up all of the soft and alcoholic drinks that you are going to consume over the next few weeks – trust me, it won’t be fun. The best thing to do, is order it online for delivery from a supermarket – this way you won’t have to do any of the heavy lifting yourself. If you are looking for inspiration on wine, we recommend Waitrose Cellar who will deliver to your door or your local Waitrose & Partners store for collection – also great if you are going to be picking up the turkey.
Where the guests will stay
If you are having people to stay overnight over the festive period, it is worth taking stock of the linen that you have in case you need to replenish. Perhaps you might need some fresh towels or new sheets. Get these on order so that they can be delivered – you won’t want to be going to the shops.
Wrap the presents
By now, you should have shipped off all of the presents. Now for the ones you need to wrap up for the big day. There are some great tips on wrapping online such as the one from Housebeautiful
Try not to leave too many things to do in the middle of the month as you will only panic – remember this is all about preparation.
The Week Before
Get the house ready
Now is the time to deep clean the house. In reality, the house isn’t going to get that messy in a week. Give the kitchen a good deep clean as this is where most of the family tend to congregate when all of those lovely smells are flowing around the house. Get the guest bedrooms ready with all of the bedding on and towels at the end of the bed – you can then shut the door and not worry about it. One area not to forget is the refrigerator. You will most likely have more food in there over the next couple of weeks than the rest of the year. Get rid of anything you won’t need and make sure there is enough space. A clean fridge is a happy fridge.
Make sure everyone knows what they are doing
This is more around communication. Make sure that everyone knows what time to turn up, when the food will be ready and what the rough agenda is over the festive period. If you are going to a church service, make sure you research it in advance and make sure it is the right type of service for your family and guests. Also, check in with anyone else that you are expecting to visit to confirm times – especially if you are preparing any food.
Two or Three Days Before
Get the fresh ingredients
There will always be things that you will need to get at the last minute – this is almost a given. Two to three days is optimum as there is a good chance that everything in the shop at this point will still be fresh for the big day.
Set the table
If you have a separate dining room, this should be easy enough to do. However, if you still need to use your dining space, it would be a good idea to get the napkins folded and any other table decorations made now. Even if you just put them in a box so you can get them out on the day.
Get fresh flowers
If you are decorating your home before the guests arrive, now is a great time to get the flowers in. The shops will be selling some wonderful Poinsettias at this time, which make for a great simple festive decoration.
Last minute Wrapping
This is one job that you really don’t want to be doing after today. Make sure that you have all of your stockings ready so that Father Christmas can drop them in on his way through.
Start some cooking
Getting ahead here is a brilliant way of staying sane tomorrow. Believe it or not, there are quite a few elements of your Christmas Day dinner that you can prepare in advance. Take a look here for some inspiration.
Prepare your times for the next day
Timing is going to be critical when you wake up tomorrow. Take some time in the evening to plan ahead and get a rough idea of what you need to be doing when – you will have a good idea of what is left to do. Factor in things like opening presents and any services that you might attend in the morning – you don’t want to be worried about anything. If you have managed to start some cooking the day before, you will be in a good place.
Cool any drinks
Don’t forget to put any drinks that need cooling in the fridge. We love to start the day with a little Bucks Fizz (family tradition). It’s a good time to get the soft drinks in and any water that you will be serving on the day.
If you are going to be taking some pictures on your DSLR tomorrow – charge up your batteries!
By this point you should be fully prepared! And once your meal is out of the way, you can sit back and relax, watch your guests tidy up (if you are lucky!) and enjoy a wonderful festive afternoon with a good Christmas movie!