The Christmas season can be loads of fun but, if you aren’t prepared, it can also be very stressful. Here is the ultimate checklist to help you stay on top of things and replace all that stress with relaxation and enjoyment.
3 – 6 Months Before
- Plan what you will be doing: Will you be going out to dinner? Will you be hosting a party at home? Will you be visiting the rellies?
- Buy plane tickets: If you are planning to go away, now is the time to grab your tickets. The earlier you do this, the better for both availability and your hip pocket.
- Exercise: Everybody likes to look their best for the holidays. If you have a few unwanted kilos, getting active now will not only make you look better, you will feel better too.
2 Months Before
- Update your calendar: All those parties, school pageants, awards ceremonies and sports finals need to be added to the calendar so you can ensure there are no clashes; it also allows you to see at a glance whether you are able to respond positively to any invites.
- Start baking: Many xmas treats can be baked ahead and frozen. If you are planning to give foods as gifts or if you are hosting this year’s xmas do, or even if you just want some extra snacks on hand for the kids, then you can save loads of time by baking ahead of time.
- Check your card list: Now is the time to add any new friends and acquaintances or to cross off anyone you may have had a falling out with or those who have passed away during the year. It is also a good idea to double-check the addresses are still current and update them if necessary.
- Buy Cards and Wrapping: If you weren’t able to stock enough cards and wrapping paper in last year’s post-xmas sales, you will need to grab some more. Many stores begin stocking these items this month, and they generally go fairly cheap as they compete with Halloween stock. Also, if you choose to order these items online, you will need to allow time for them to arrive. Don’t forget to buy stamps for all those cards as well.
- Plan for overnight guests: Do you have friends or rellies coming to stay? If so, now is the time to check if you have enough items like sheets, towels, plates and mugs. That way, if there is any shortfall, you can spread the purchases over several pay-weeks. Now is also the time to work out sleeping arrangements. It’s best to give kids plenty of warning if they need to share or even vacate their room.
6 Weeks Before
- Make a gift list: You don’t need to know exactly what you will buy, but you do need to know who you are buying for. This allows you to set a budget and it also allows you to take advantage of specials or those little stalls that pop up in the shopping centres at this time of year.
- Grab those wish lists: Spouses and siblings can be difficult to shop for and, let’s face it; kids can be fairly hard to please. The best way around this is to have them draw up a wishlist. Make sure they include some relatively cheap items along with their dream gifts. That way you are assured of being able to fulfil at least one of their wishes. You should also make your own wishlist and pass it along to your spouse so they can help your kids shop for presents.
- Create a budget: Set aside an amount for your xmas gifts and an amount for food shopping. Let your kids know how much of your money they can spend on individual gifts. When exchanging gifts outside the family it is a good idea to agree to set amount so everybody is on an equal footing. When drawing up your budget, remember to include extra money for fuel. All that xmas visiting can rack up the miles surprisingly quickly.
- Buy gifts: Start shopping for your gifts now. This allows you to take advantage of any specials that catch your eye and gives plenty of time for any online shopping to arrive.
- Send gifts: Mail can be slow over the holidays due to the increased volume of cards, parcels and packages being sent out. If you are planning to post any gifts, it is best to get this done as early as possible, particularly if you are sending them overseas.
- Order a ham: Most stores require you to order your ham ahead of time. Some stores begin taking orders six weeks before xmas, and it is best to place your order as early as possible.
- Buy your wishing tree gift: If you are planning to donate a gift for the wishing tree, now is the time to do so.
- Buy spare gifts: Pick up a few small items such as scented candles or boxes of chocolates to give to party hosts or to reciprocate unexpected gifts from neighbours.
One Month Before
- Online Shopping: Now is the time to complete any last-minute online shopping you may have. If you leave it any later, you risk not receiving it in time for Xmas.
- Wrap your gifts: It saves a lot of time and effort if you wrap your gifts as you buy them, rather than leaving it until the last-minute.
- Pull out your decorations: Now is the time to check over all the decorations you had stored away. This way you have plenty of time to replace light bulbs and broken or out-dated decorations. It is particularly important to check your lights and any other electrical or battery operated decorations as any faults here could be dangerous. Any unwanted decorations that are still in good condition can be donated to charity.
- Check crockery, glasses and cutlery: If you having guests over, you will need more of these things than you would normally use. Doing an early stock-take helps avoid last-minute trips to the corner store for paper plates.
- Write cards: Depending on how many cards you are sending out, this can take a while. Starting early saves time, stress and sore wrists.
- Place your gift under the wishing tree: If you are donating a gift to the wishing tree, and have not done so already, now is the time to place your gift under the tree. This allows plenty of time for gifts to be distributed to the less fortunate.
Three Weeks Before
- Send Cards: As stated before, the increased volume of mail at this time of year can significantly increase delivery times. Best to get your cards sent early to ensure they arrive before xmas.
- Bring out the tree: or buy it, if you want a live one. Remember to get the family together to add the ornaments.
- Decorate: Nothing adds to the excitement of xmas like making your home look festive.
- Make a shopping list: If you are serving the meal this year, it is time to decide on menu, confirm attendance and make a list of everything you need to buy.
- Order a ham (if you haven’t already): Most stores require you to order your ham ahead of time. Some stores begin taking orders six weeks before xmas, and if you haven’t already done so, you should order your ham now.
Two Weeks Before
- Buy Non-Perishables: You know that big shopping list you wrote a week ago? It’s time to go get all the non-perishables.
- Choose your outfit: If you are like to dress up for the big day, choosing what you wear now allows you to ensure that any washing or dry-cleaning is done in plenty of time.
One Week Before:
- Clean: Give your home a deep clean. Even if you aren’t having guests, you will enjoy your day more in a clean home.
- Stock up on batteries: Children will inevitably receive at least one item that requires batteries and it is no fun having to wait until the stores open to play with your new toys. The most common batteries for children’s toys are AA and AAA, so have plenty of these on hand for xmas day.
Three Days Before:
- Buy perishables: Head on out and purchase all those fresh fruit and veg from your shopping list.
- Set the table: Unless you really need the table for your normal family meals, you can save time by setting it ahead of time. Remember to label the platters so you know which platter you want to use for which food.
Two Days Before:
- Start Cooking: save time and effort on the day by preparing the main courses and making anything that can sit for a couple of days.
- Buy flowers: If you want to use flowers as your centrepiece, now is the time to head out and buy them.
One Day Before:
- Buy seafood: If you are serving fresh seafood for xmas, it’s time to brave the lines and make your purchase.
- Finish Cooking: Decide what time you want to eat, then count backward to determine when to put the ham (or turkey or roast beef) in the oven and what else needs to be cooked.
- Wrap gifts: Now is the time to get any last-minute gift wrapping done.
- Charge cameras: Make sure your cameras, camcorders, phones and tablets are fully charged so as not to kiss a single minute of xmas day.
- Have fun: Sit back, relax and enjoy your day!
- Cleaning: You’ve put in all the work to make this day happen, so why note rope the kids into doing the dishes and collecting all that discarded wrapping?
1 – 2 Weeks After
- Stock up: Most stores sell leftover xmas stock at bargain prices after the event, so now is the time to stock up on cards, decorations and wrapping paper for next xmas.
- Spend Gift Certificates: Take advantage of the post-xmas sales to get the most out of any gift certificates you received.