Christmas Countdown: Have You Thought About All These Areas Yet?

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It’s unavoidable now, isn’t it? Christmas is so obviously on the horizon that there’s no point trying to pretend not to take any notice. Black Friday is in the rear view mirror and well done if you managed to get anything useful. More than likely, you’ve still got some finishing touches to make.

But readiness for Christmas is not just about the shopping, as we all know. Or at least not the presents. There’s so much to get done that it feels like you need to clone yourself to even have a chance. When is the best time to plan Christmas 2016? If the truth be told, probably January 2016. But as this strange, turbulent year has taught us, a lot can change in twelve months, so even that’s not necessarily foolproof.

And yet… it’s still a few weeks away, isn’t it? You can still, if you close your eyes at the right time, pretend it’s not there. Right? Well, in theory, yes. It’s getting tougher, but you could do that.

But in reality, let’s be honest. You remember when you were given four weeks to finish a coursework project in school? And you said “Four weeks? That’s plenty of time – I’ll look at it next week, and then plan it out, and then I’ll write it with about a week to go. And then I’ll make some edits, maybe even turn it in a day early…”.

We all know what happened next. The night before the deadline, and all through the house, the only creature stirring was you. Googling “What was the Battle of Hastings?”, or looking it up in an encyclopaedia if you’re a bit older. Procrastination is the thief of time.

I’m exactly the same – organisation is not a strong suit. But can we all make a vow here and now? If you want to be even remotely calm at 8 pm on Christmas Eve, let’s get this all planned out now.

Christmas Dinner: Let The Pans Simmer, Not The Tension

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If you ask a wise person how to avoid the mid-afternoon kitchen panic of Christmas Day, they’ll have the answer in a flash. “Accept any invitation you get to have it at someone else’s house.” They’re right, really. If you eat at someone else’s house, there will still be panic in the kitchen, and you may even be among it. But it won’t be your fault.

Sometimes, though, it’s your turn and the bullet must be bitten. Get your plans in order now. Finalise a menu. Fix a time when you will sit to eat. Know who is going to be turning up, and get confirmation on that. If you can’t store that much food – and you never really appreciate how much it is until you see it all piled up – then at least get it ordered. Trying to buy a bird even a few days ahead can be a struggle.

Crafts: Get Started Now

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If you like to make your own Christmas decorations – or even some of them – then now is the time. Get the kids on board and plan out what you’re going to make and do. Buy a few cordless glue guns and as much craft paper as you think you need. (Plus some for luck – you always think you’ll need less than you actually do!)

Paper chains are always a favourite, and to them you can add some garlands. Depending on quite how crafty you all are, there’s even still time to make an Advent calendar. Small squares of chocolate for behind the windows are optional. Go ahead if you’re really brave, but no snacking on them in the meantime! (Well, maybe a couple as a reward for a job well done).

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For many people, making Christmas decorations is the most seasonal thing you can do. And for grandparents, there are few things as heartwarming as getting a homemade Christmas card from their grandkids. It embodies the meaning of the season in a way nothing else can quite manage. And speaking of cards…

Cards: Yes, It Will Be Noticed If You Don’t Send One

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There is plenty of cynicism about Christmas cards. Yes, we all appreciate presents, food, parties and even decorations. But would we notice or care if we stopped getting cards? Possibly not. But they’re a bit like nuclear weapons. If you have them and then decide suddenly not to, everyone else will wonder why not. It will cause frosty diplomatic relations. And no one wants to be the first to step down.

So yes, this year, you will send cards. You may not enjoy writing them but think of it like this. If you write them now, you don’t have to later.

One thing to remember: postage isn’t free. You know that however many stamps you buy, it will not be enough. Next time you’re in a supermarket for any reason, or in the Post Office, purchase several dozen stamps. Even if you end up with a surplus, no harm – there will be several points in 2017 where you need a stamp; this way you’ll know you have a stockpile.

Entertaining: Be Ready For Anything

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People will pop over unannounced around this time of year. It’s pretty much a law of the universe. Also, around this period, you’ll make arrangements to have others over announced. You’ll be hesitant to do so, though, if your home is liable to be a source of any shame. So now’s the time for a thorough clean throughout.

Not just a clean. If there is anything broken, stiff, slippery or otherwise not in full working order, it needs correcting. Doing it now means you don’t have to brave the packed streets to get the necessary tools. Or to call someone with a rapidly filling diary to come and do it.

Getting the jump on Christmas is still possible at this stage. It may even be the ideal time. It’s close enough to pick up specialised Christmas items, but far enough away that not everyone is going to be doing likewise.

By getting all of these affairs in order now, you can float into the celebrations in serene style. Nothing is nagging on your mind. Except for that one inevitable thing that will pop up, but hey! At least you won’t be dealing with that amid a whirlwind.

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