Raise your hand if Christmas seems to sneak up on you every single year. You aren’t alone, but you will become a frazzled mess if a few things aren’t knocked off your festive season to-do list stat!
Beat the Christmas rush by getting prepared and in control. Our thorough checklist will show you how to get your menu, decorations and gifts organised to create a holiday gathering that is fabulous, and not frenetic. You’ll even have time to put your feet up at the end.
Whether you’re having an immediate family dinner on Christmas Eve or a full-blown traditional Christmas-Day lunch, you’ll need to carefully plan a menu so there’s a sense of abundance and celebration without too many leftovers.
Firstly, decide what type of food you’d like to have on the day; for instance traditional roasted turkey, glazed ham or something lighter such as freshly shucked oysters and barbecued seafood.
From there, add what you’d like such as appetiser, entree, side dishes and dessert so you can calculate portion size and how much you will need to buy.
Getting as much done in advance is important, so make room in the fridge as early as possible.
Chefs don’t start a meal from scratch when someone walks into their restaurant and nor should you, if you want to keep Christmas lunch manageable and enjoyable. It helps enormously if you’ve worked out a plan for how long things will take to cook so you can start prepping in advance.
For those of us who have boxes of Christmas decorations we pull out each December, there’s a lovely sense of tradition as familiar favourites once again see the light of day. But that doesn’t mean we have to use all of our decorations, all of the time.
Changing the theme on occasion is fun and creative and can involve as simply leaving one colour out of your regular combination and adding a new one.
Once you know the look you’re after, check through all your decorations and decide which ones you’ll need this year and put away the rest.
Regardless of your theme, there are three steps to creating a show-stopping tree:
- Start with the fairy lights, beginning at the base of the tree, weaving them along each branch from top to trunk, until you reach the top.
- Drape any garlands or tinsel, starting from the top and work your way down.
- Finish with ornaments, stepping back from time to time to check placement, and ending with your favourite tree topper.
When it comes to table settings, a plain white dinner set can be easily dressed with coloured or textured napkins, low candles and floral arrangements.
A natural palette might involve silverware tied together with twine and a rustic cardboard name tag sitting on top of each place setting.
The truly organised will have been shopping throughout the year, finding perfect presents and storing them away until December.
However, with a little planning, there’s still plenty of time for the rest of us to prepare for the season with a minimum of fuss.
Start shopping or making gifts early, but be kind to yourself and spread the load over a few weeks. After all, giving gifts should make you feel warm and fuzzy rather than frazzled.
If you’d rather not run around the shopping centre amongst the crowds, take your Christmas shopping online. Most online retailers offer gift wrapping for a small fee (or for free!) and it can be sent straight to the recipient’s door in time for Christmas. Winning! Just be sure to check out their Christmas day mailing cut-off.
Simple, homemade presents are always well received. Beautifully wrapped seasonal treats are a great idea.
An elderly relative might enjoy an afternoon out, so consider making an invitation to enjoy Devonshire tea at a cafe that they can redeem in the New Year.
When purchasing gifts, take advantage of the extended trading hours many shop offer in the lead-up to Christmas and their in-store gift-wrapping services. Many shopping centres offer a gift-wrapping service in exchange for a gold-coin donation to charity.
If you’re off for a post-Christmas holiday, making arrangements for pets is vital.
Kennels fill up quickly, however there are pet-sitting services that involve someone coming to your house to feed the animals while you’re away. A more expensive option is to hire a pet sitter who also lives in the house, keeping the pets company.
By attending to any little repair jobs around the house as early as possible, you’ll give yourself more time for the fun part of decorating.
Most of the time, a thorough clean will make your home sparkle.
If guests are coming to stay, prepare the guest bedroom by making sure you have enough linen and blankets and that pillows are plump and fresh: an afternoon in the sun should do the trick.
Declutter spare rooms and fill some vases with fresh foliage.
It’s also a good idea to stock the pantry with lots of delicious staples you can whip out for impromptu entertaining.