• Cath Moore

Keep Calm, Christmas Is Coming!

Christmas is a wonderful time but, for lots of us, it can come at a price: STRESS!

Don't panic, here's the Rule Your Roost guide to making your Christmas as happy and organised as possible:

1. Write it down

  • Mark all your dates and events on your calendar.

  • Budget for food and gifts.

  • Lists, lists, lists!- food shopping list, card list, present list, to do list.

2. An early bird gets the worm

  • Book your social events: grotto/panto/shows/club nights/restaurants.

  • Book babysitters.

  • Book petsitters/kennels/cattery.

  • Book train/coach/plane tickets early for best price.

  • Book your supermarket delivery slot(s).

  • If you're having a party then get your invites out early before your guests make other plans.

  • Order your turkey or other meat/fish/bespoke vegan creation.

3. Get ahead of the curve

  • Clear space in your freezer & fridge.

  • Clear out the spare room for overnight guests.

  • Check you have enough bedlinen and/or towels for your overnight guests.  Don't be afraid to ask your guests to bring their own linens if this will help you with logistics.

  • Likewise make sure you think about how much crockery/seating you need for your guests and arrange to borrow some if required.

  • Get up to date on your laundry.

  • Get photos printed to add into any special cards.

  • Make time in the coming evenings to write personalised letters to older relatives who don't do email.

  • Do some batch cooking now and freeze portions for easy meals around Christmas.

  • Make cookie dough and freeze it in advance.

  • Get your kids to declutter their rooms in preparation for new toys, games and books.  Focus on getting things out of the house and into a charity shop where they will benefit others.

4. Don't get caught out!

  • Ensure your car is roadworthy and that tax, insurance or MOT will not run out over the Christmas period.

  • If you have specialist pet food make sure you stock up.

  • Check postal dates and get parcels organised early to avoid post office queues.

  • Make sure all your prescriptions are filled and you have basic medicines and first aid supplies in the house.

  • Going to be away overnight?  For security set timer lights up or ask a neighbour to open & draw curtains or park on your driveway.

  • Ensure you have a supply of fresh batteries in various sizes.

  • If you have an open fire ensure you have enough wood or coal to keep cosy through the Christmas celebrations.

  • If you are using airbeds blow them up in advance and make sure they don't deflate.

5. Don't break the bank!

  • Have a strict budget and stick to it.

  • Try to cut down on the number of people you need to buy for: do Secret Santa for workmates or groups of friends; agree to only exchange gifts for kids not whole family; suggest a special activity or meal out instead of gifting.

  • Mutually agree a cap on spend.

  • Spend saved up Boots/Tesco/Other loyalty card points to offset your cash outlay

  • If you have the time, research prices and shop around to get the best deals.

  • KEEP ALL CHRISTMAS PRESENT RECEIPTS IN A SAFE PLACE.  Should you buy something that is later significantly discounted you then have the option to return the higher priced item and re-buy at a lower price.

  • If you have a cashback credit card use it for all your Christmas purchasing (but ensure you have the money to pay your bill come January).

  • If you won't be seeing people until after Christmas consider buying discounted presents in the Boxing Day sales.

  • If you can't afford to buy a gift, give "vouchers" for your time - babysitting, home cooked meal, gardening, help with decorating etc.

6. Shop until you drop? No thanks!

  • Shop early in the morning or late evening for a less busy shopping experience.  

  • Shop online if you can't cope with the stress of crowds and queues.

  • Where possible co-ordinate deliveries to arrive on the same day when you plan to be home.

  • If you aren't home in the day make use of "Click & Collect", Collect+ or Amazon Locker type services.

7. Gifting without grief

  • Find out what people actually want - ask for wish lists early on. 

  • Try and buy gifts that are practical. Don't waste your money on novelty tat that will end up in the bin or back of a cupboard next week. If in doubt, buy a voucher!  

  • Put practical gifts like underwear, stationary and toiletries in kids' stockings. 

  • If you are artistic or have cooking or crafting skills then make gifts.  

  • Request gift receipts from shops, where possible, in case there is a problem and the recipient needs to take a present back.

  • Buy some "spare" presents (chocolates, wine etc) and wrap them up in case you get caught out with a surprise gift and want to reciprocate to save your blushes.  

8. It's a wrap

  • Gather all your wrapping supplies in one place: Paper, scissors, tape, ribbon, tags, gift bags.  

  • Wrap as you go - each time you return from a shopping trip, tick any presents bought off your list and then wrap them.  This will save you having a back breaking wrap-a-thon at the last minute.

  • Wrap each member of your immediate family's presents in different patterned paper, that way you don't have to worry about tags falling off. 

  • Remember to take prices off and enclose gift receipts where appropriate.  

  • When unwrapping presents try to keep a note of which gifts are from who so you can thank the right people.

9. Playing cards

  • Write a Christmas card list and once it's complete, save it on your computer for future Christmases – alter names and addresses as and when needed.

  • Send your cards out early so you can use second class stamps.  

  • Hand deliver cards when possible.

  • Consider e-cards or video messages instead of regular cards through the post.

  • Buy charity cards from charity shops so more of the money gets to the charity.

10. Magical meals

  • Put date(s) on the calendar do your Christmas food shopping

  • Plan your meals properly and write a detailed food shopping list from the recipes.

  • Order online delivery for an easy option but give yourself a days grace in case you get a dreaded "substitute" item you need to replace last minute.

  • For get togethers at your home ask guests to bring a dish so the cooking load is spread.

  • Check with guests to see if they have any special dietary requirements/allergies.

  • Write a Christmas dinner timeline to keep you calm-er on the day.

  • Think ahead and plan what you will do with leftovers.  

  • Try to have some plainer meals in between all the rich indulgent Christmas food. 

  • Can't cook or hate cooking?  Book lunch out or buy in pre-prepared items which you can just heat up.

11. Deck the halls

  • Have a general declutter of old magazines, books and ornaments before you get your Christmas decorations out and add to the visual overload. 

  • Instead of cluttering every surface with cards use thread and pegs to hang them in "washing lines" or vertically across and down walls.

  • Set the scene with fairy lights, candles, Christmas foliage.

  • If you have a separate dining room, lay it up and decorate it a day or so before the big meal so it's one less thing to worry about on Christmas Day.

  • Make sure young children and pets cannot eat decorations or destroy your tree!

12. Give yourself a break

  • Don't exhaust yourself - give yourself some breaks from the socializing and entertaining so you enjoy the events you do attend!

  • Delegate delegate delegate!  You don't have to do it all yourself!!!  Let your family, friends and guests help you.

  • Take time out from your family/visitors - don't feel like you need to entertain them 24/7.

  • Be patient with tricky family members, don't let things get out of hand - walk away if you can no longer bite your tongue.

  • Remember Christmas doesn't have to be perfect; don't sweat the small stuff and aim for happy rather than perfect!

  • This is your Christmas too! Relax and enjoy yourself!

Phew, that is all! Good luck with your Christmas planning and please get in touch if you’d like any more help or advice - I’d love to help you Rule Your Roost!.