Ok - so every year Christmas seems to just creep up on us! And sometimes, we think we're ahead of the game and have everything under control and then all of a sudden it's December! Well if you're anything like me, I'm still not panicking - since in my head Christmas is at the end of the month but then you realise it's actually in 3 WEEKS!!!! And that's no time at all! You still need to get Aunty Maureen's Christmas present, you haven't got the final numbers for dinner and you've found out cousin John's daughter is going through a vegetarian phase!!!!
I think if we were to sit down and have a long hard think - it's bizarre how the year comes to an almighty climax every year with Christmas - and this, the biggest event of the year, for all it's joy and season of goodwill still brings it's fair share of revellers close to breaking point!
So in a bid to help those of you who are always the ones rushing and worrying, I thought it might be nice to do a little Christmas countdown - a little planning can go an awfully long way these days and even more so when it comes to relieving stress, saving money and spending more time enjoying the festive season. You don't have to wait until the last minute to start planning. Here's some tiny steps you can take to make it all a little easier...
JUNE - Save, Save, Save
There's always a big chunk of the household budget allocated to Christmas and even though we're in a very tricky economic climate at the moment, Christmas will always be dear in our hearts. And we won't want to compromise on what it's all about if we don't have to! So it might be good idea to start putting away some pennies to make pounds which always come in handy at Christmas. Just saving £5 a week can leave you with £110 come December!
JULY - Season of Giving
So you may not know everyone you're going to be buying a Christmas pressie for this Christmas, but there's always the usual suspects! Make a list and there's no time like the summer sales to keep an eye out for any bargains to help fill those stockings! Not all gifts are seasonal and there's sure to be some great surprises for your friends and family.
AUGUST - What's Cooking!
Or rather - who's cooking? In this day and age everyone is so busy - what with family, friends, work, kids, holidays, I could go on... I know it seems early, but it might not be a bad idea to drop some hints and see who's going to be around, if anyone has any plans, with those closest to you. It will help you plan effectively and also help with those sometimes unavoidable disappointments!
SEPTEMBER - Table for ?
Now it's not just me who starts thinking about Christmas early. You can be sure as soon as the kids are back in school, the Christmas homing device kicks in! So if you're planning to let someone else take care of Christmas (and you should know this by now if you've been sticking to the plan!) then you'll find local pubs will be trying to get your reservation in early for a very busy festive season. Be sure to keep an eye out for the special packages and don't forget to book early to avoid disappointment!
If you have anywhere to travel over Christmas then now is the time to get in and book any tickets you need. Most rail companies tend to release tickets 3 months in advance to be early and grab a bargain - and a seat!
October Ordering Online!
If you're the kind of person who can't stand crawling the high street with the rest of the general public then may be online shopping is for you! Ordering in October means you've got more access to stock and guaranteed delivery in time I'd say. And it's not just presents these days, you can even get all your grocery shopping delivered direct to your door!
Let them eat cake!
Now if you really want to show off your homemaker skills this season then how about trying your hand at making your very own Christmas cake? Doing this mid-November means you have enough time to feed and nurture the cake with some fabulous brandy and cover it in marzipan ready to be iced closer to the big day! You'll be sure to impress you dinner guests when you bring out this little beauty!
Ok, so the line is a little cheesy but the message is a good one! De-frost your freezer! Get rid of anyting you don't need and make some much-needed pace for the Christmas cake you've just started on and other meats and treats you're going to be going through this Christmas. Have a look through the cupboards while you're at it too!
Christmas cards are a sure fire way of getting you in the mood for Christmas, - whether it's choosing which you're going to send this year, the first one you write, or the first to drop through your letterbox! Why not do something a little special this year and choose a card which stands out from the crown and takes pride and place on friends and families' fireplaces! How about choosing to send some personalised Christmas cards this season?
All wrapped up!
Make a start on those fantastic presents you've been accumulating in the loft over the course of the year! It's one less thing to worry about as the evenings get busier with all those party invites coming your way! And remember - the quicker they're wrapped, the quicker you can get them in to hiding places without anyone noticing!
O' Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
So I don't know about you but I can never wait! By now, I've sent my cards and received a plenty - and everyone else seems to have theirs in the window so why not us! So either pop down to your local garden centre or dust of the grand old tree from the loft and get decorating! The louder, the brighter, the better!
By now you should know who's coming dinner which means you can start making your food and drinks list and putting all that empty cupboard and freezer space to use!
It's also a good time to check you have enough batteries, camera film, memory cards to capture all those magic and unmissable moments!
Always on time!
Whether you have to be somewhere or everyone is coming to you - be a domestic god/dess and make a time plan so you know exactly what needs to be done and by when! This will minimise the the risk of those last-minute panics and means less thinking and more fun with everyone else!
Santa says relax!
And finally take a deep breath - assured in the knowledge that you've done everything you can to make this a great day for everyone, including yourself. Stay calm if you're cooking dinner and be sure to get you family and friends to help out around the place! Above all though - enjoy yourself!
Merry Christmas everyone - I hope you have a good one!