Okay, so by writing this post about Christmas preparation now you may think I’m completely MENTAL, and in some ways you might be right BUT hear me out. For the last few years, once summer is over (and let’s face it, my heating has already been on since the kids went back to school), my thoughts have turned towards planning Christmas.
Don’t get me wrong, I HATE seeing Christmas stuff in the shops this early, but now we have children, and host Christmas at our house every other year, it makes sense to get organised and start to spread the cost, so I can really enjoy the whole of December without feeling stressed. This is especially important to me, as the festive season is probably my favourite time of year, and I want to make the most of it!
So what do I do in order to get ahead of the game?
Here are a few things I do…
Plan Christmas events and buy tickets
In the summer, I start to think about what festive events we’d like to go to, and what suitable December dates we might aim for. For the past couple of years, we know that we like to do a Santa visit with friends, a twilight Christmas night at a local stately home, panto and ice skating. By booking tickets for these events as soon as they go on sale (ridiculously early for panto and September for all the other events), I can make sure I can get the seats we want, as well as the times and dates, plus it also spreads the cost. It also means that we can plan the rest of December around these, and schedule in plenty of downtime and fun at home too.
Start thinking about presents…
Whilst I don’t actually tend to buy too much for the children until more like the end of November in case they change their minds when it comes to a ‘big’ present, I start thinking about things they might like. I have an Excel spreadsheet that I update each year, where I list presents that I’d like to get them, and then mark them off in green once purchased. I also have ‘wish lists’ for each person on various websites where I can quickly add an idea, and then come back to it at a later date. I’ve used sites like the fabulous ‘Uncommon Goods’ for finding great and quirky presents for all members of the family. Founded by Dave Bolotsky in 1999, ‘Uncommon Goods’ know that there’s a story behind every product they sell, and do their best to support the artists and creatives that provide unusual gifts for the people who buy them (like you and me!).
…But do start getting the stocking fillers!
What I do do though, is start getting potential stocking fillers (you can get great ones) as I see them throughout the year, so by the time December rolls around I’m more or less DONE (bar some sweet treats that I prefer to buy fresh). I find Sasha easy to buy for, but Freddie (and maybe boys in general? Is that sexist?) a little harder. Again, I also write lists of ideas in my phone for the kids and Adam as they come to me, and then have a browse when I’ve got more time to find the perfect item.
Write your Christmas Cards in advance
If you still send Christmas cards, and I’m someone who does as I love seeing them hanging up, or on the shelves, then to save time you can write these well in advance (but don’t actually send them, obvs!). You might think this takes the joy out of the ritual of writing them when it’s all Christmassy, and I used to LOVE to do them in front of Christmas film and with a mince pie in hand, but…now we have the children, plus I’m fitting in freelance work, the past few years it’s felt more of a chore (and a pressure) trying to fit writing them in come December. Now I do them mid-late November, address and stamp them, ready to post that first week of my favourite month! If you’re thinking of getting your own Christmas cards printed this year with family photos, then Chloe has some great tips on how to take great Christmas card photos of your children!
Get your Christmas-themed bits purchased
I don’t have bottomless pits of cash when it comes to Christmas, but because the actual buying of presents can be expensive in itself, I try to buy other festive-themed bits throughout the year to spread the cost. for example, I’ve just bought a Nordic stags head duvet set for our bed for Christmas (I know, I know), and I’ve already got Christmas pyjamas for the family (again, I KNOW). This pay day, I’m going to buy an updated, themed advent calendar for the children, to replace the current one they’ve had for the past few years. Again, it means I’m not stressed when it comes to the cost of Christmas come December. I also love starting to shop around for generic Christmas decorations and lighting that I know will go anywhere in our house-especially important when we’re in the process of decorating and I’m not sure how things are going to look exactly at the start of December.
Start buying food and drink
Once September hits, I start adding some food and drink that I know will keep to our weekly food order, and then store it away out of sight (this is particularly important when it comes to chocolate!). Ideas to get in advance include bucks fizz, wine, beer, tubs of chocolates, nuts, crisps, soft drinks. It also makes it easier when it comes to doing your Christmas supermarket dash nearer the time- less heavy items to lug about. Over on her blog, Jen has over 50 last minute homemade edible gifts for Christmas that might help you out if you’re stuck on what to get or make people on a budget!
Get babysitting sorted in advance
We often have a few social events to go to in December sans children, so getting babysitting sorted in advance is the way forward. We’re lucky to have ace grandparents on hand to help (but they have busy social lives too!), but if you don’t have family, get in quick with paid babysitting, as all the good ones get booked up fast during the busiest month in the social diary.
So do I sound mad? Or are you are festive forward-thinker too?
Let me know your tips for getting sorted for Christmas- I’d love to hear them and get some more ideas for myself!
Head spinning at the thought of all this prep? Sarah has some great ideas on how to avoid feeling overwhelmed at Christmas over on her blog, and Jen has some great tips to simplify Christmas without losing the magic…
See my other life organisation posts too.
*In collaboration, but I always love writing about Christmas anyway!