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Christmas Is Coming: The Guide to Being Less Stressed and Happier
The older and more "responsible" we get the less Christmas becomes fun and exciting and instead we are faced with the challenges of shopping (facing the horrible crowds) money, what food to cook, decorations, entertaining, cleaning....really the list goes on and on. Whilst Christmas is a magical time of year and I personally love it, I realise that the real trick to loving it even more is to be organised. I know I know, organised is a dreaded word for some, me included; but honestly stress and worry about not having things done in time for Christmas really can take the fun, magic and sparkle out of the holiday season. I have included my ideas of what you can do early to prep for the big day, yes I know I'm recommending you start to make plans in November which is less than 2 months before the big day, but trust me, the earlier you start the more time you will have to focus on what's important and that's family. My goals are to spend November doing the more mundane tasks such as cleaning and making lists, but trust me when it comes to December and you have these crossed off you will definitely have time to enjoy the more exciting parts of Christmas.
Carol of the Bells by Libera
What does Christmas mean to you....
Christmas is an annual tradition that commentates the birth of Jesus Christ and its both a religious and cultural tradition shared by many around the world. Christmas is most commonly celebrated on the 25th of December, however some countries and traditions deviate slightly on the dates. Christmas is very well knows to be the start of the 12 days of Christmas celebrations which ends on the 6th of January which is known as the Epiphany. Christmas is seen worldwide usually from around September where stores put up and advertise their Christmas wares. Also there are hundreds of Christmas carols with many artists releasing their own Christmas albums among the hundreds of movies and books also featuring the topic. You could safely say Christmas is a pretty big deal to the majority of people particularly in the western cultures.
Lets get started....
So it's already the second weekend into November, where has all that time gone? Ok so its time to get right into the swing of Christmas. Now you say? yes definitely now, we are already lagging behind with only 6 weeks till Christmas. Yes I know we are all still at work and the kids are all still at school, but this is the beauty of starting now. It gives you plenty of time to start getting your mind into Christmas, and I mean really get into it. Many stores have the sales starting and whilst I'm not expecting you do to all your Christmas shopping today, getting into the mind set means whilst you're doing errands, you might spot that perfect gift for someone. It's time to collect all those catalogues and page through them, it's time to start reading those pesky emails that remind you of their current 20% off sales and it's time for you to start taking stock of what you need to do. The worst thing about Christmas is the stress it causes which not only encourages you to buy things for the sake of it, but planning ahead can save you money and time. Imagine, it's a couple of days before Christmas and you're wrapping the gifts only to realise two are missing, not only that you still have your list food items you need buy and make among the millions of other things you need to get done. Does going to the shops along with the hordes of millions of people interest you? No, but not being prepared is usually what will bring no other option. Trust me, you can scoff all you want, but a little preparation will have you breathing a sigh of relief the closer it gets to Christmas. I am not saying use all these tips and tricks, I am just merely suggesting if you take a few on board you may surprise yourself with how much happier and smoother the holidays will go for you.....
The start of November- consciously start to collect catalogues and start looking out for sales. Remember not only are you looking for gift ideas; but you are going to want to start stocking up on your food supplies. Things like soft drinks, snacks, condiments, fruit cake, canned goods etc generally start to go on sale from now and the more you buy now the less you need to buy in the Christmas rush. In saying that though please be mindful of use by dates and non-perishables are definitely high on the to buy now list. Things like cheeses, meats (that you can freeze) and dips can also be purchased now being mindful of their shelf life. In stocking up your food supplies remember not only is it Christmas Day, but starting thinking of recipes for left overs (if you are hosting the dinner of course) or other things that you can buy so the week between Christmas and new year can be as stress free as possible also. Also remember to take into account for unexpected quests and family members dropping by or spontaneous parties and plans that may pop up. So remember to add things for entertaining such as snacks, dips, quick easy dinners and bottles of wine and chocolate which can also be used as gifts for the hostess if needed.
Things to start stocking up on early when on sale
Can goods - tins of tomatos, lentils, beans
Variety of Cheeses for cheese boards (be careful of expiry dates)
Frozen veggies that are not in season fresh
Condiments such as quince, fig paste or pate for your cheese board
Ham, Turkey, Lamb, Pork or Beef (if you are having a small piece and not planning on a big turkey or ham on the day)
Gourmet dressings for salads
Bacon or Turkey Bacon for Christmas breakfast
Cranberry Sauce and Glazes
Ice Cream for desert
Dips, bruschetta toppings and patê
Other Desert options
Salt, Pepper and Spices
Croissants, bread, bagels, waffles
Jars of Olives, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Artichokes,
Wines, Spirits or Beer
Snacks such as Chips, Nuts, Pretzels
Flours, sugars, breadcrumbs
Nuts and fruits for baking and salads
Chocolates - time to stock up on those Williams Sonoma goodies
Start the Spring Clean if you haven't already
Cleaning, so this is probably the least fun of what needs doing before Christmas. I am not talking your every day cleaning though I am talking the big Spring Clean culling and checkout kinda clean. Now is the time to spend your weekend going through closets and draws culling where you can and just organising everything so it makes sense. This may seem a bit like extra added work, but there is a method to my madness. Doing a big clean will help determine if there is anything you need (put it on your Christmas list), things that you will be able to use for Christmas that you didn't know you had (decorations wrapping paper etc) and if you're lucky maybe a few things that can be re-gifted (obviously only if its new and something you are only getting rid of because either you don't need it or you know someone will love it). Cleaning can also unearth serving ware or cooking necessities that you will need for the Christmas season, meaning less money you will need to spend as you more likely than not you have more than you realised. Need some inspiration to help with the cleaning? Have a look at the Marie Kondo website or book "the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up", they feature a check list to keep you on track. Needless to say making room for Christmas helps with the stress of having to find home for the decorations post Christmas or the gifts that you may receive. Don't forget the garage or storage shed whilst you're at it, which also can double as extra hiding/storage places for your stocked up Christmas goodies.
Now that you have had a big chuck out it's time to do some serious cleaning. I am talking now about things that you don't clean regularly, but when you notice they are dirty then you have to do the leg work. Why you ask is this important. Let's think about those family and friend get-togethers. I don't know about you, but suddenly right before everyone comes I notice the dirt in the window and door tracks, the dust collecting behind the fridge and on fans and the skirting boards getting mucky. Ok so I admit this may be a bit of my compulsiveness coming out, but if like me these things can cause a tiny bit of angst, worry or stress for you than its best to get them knocked on the head now. You know what they say....a stitch in time saves nine...Oh most importantly, clean out your fridge, freezer and your pantry so you can see what you have as well as make room for all the stocking up of goodies that up you're about to do.
Whilst you're on a cleaning spree, have a look at your outdoor area. Obviously living in Australia the outdoors is usually a big part of our holidays. This is the time to do a big spring clean (of course there is still awhile to Christmas, but doing the big clean now will make things much easier closer to Christmas). Things to be mindful of cleaning, BBQ's, Outdoor Furniture, Sweep out door areas, dust away the cobwebs, spruce up your pot and hanging plants. Now is also a great time if you have an edible garden to put in some seeds or plants that are likely to produce some fruit or veggies in time for Christmas things like Radishes are easy and great for your cheese platter and in salads as with cherry tomatoes. Its a great chance to take all the dead leaves from plants, fertilize any that may need a lift and even prune back plants which should give them a new life in time for the holiday events. Now is also a good idea to plan if you will put any outdoor decorations are and maybe draw up a few plans and move things around to accommodate the coming season.
Money, Money, Money....
All right so we are still in the first couple of weeks of November, but a good activity to get a grip on especially in the evenings after work is budgeting. Budgeting is boring we all know, but it's definitely an important part of Christmas as we all know spending to much now can lead to heartache in the new year. Things that are ideal to make sure you budget for now are things like upcoming bills for the next 6 months. It is very easy to forget that Car Rego is due in February with all the madness. How much you have to spend on Christmas presents, decorations and food and don't forget to budget for any handmade gifts you may have in mind and baking. Any upcoming expenses that you may not realise are due such as getting the car serviced, dental check ups, hair appointments you know the drill. A good method I find is through the year I note every bill and its due date in my planner, so when preparing for Christmas I go through the first few months of the year past to get a rough expectation of what I will have to outlay in the year ahead. Don't worry if you haven't done it this year, it may be something to keep track of in the new year. Other ways you may keep track of expenses is looking at your bank statements earlier this year, or your email bill notifications or just your pile of bills you may keep?
Elvis - Blue Christmas
Ok so these things are probably not going to really be of much concern to everyone, but we are still in November so if they will be something you want to get done than now is the time to buckle on down.
- Getting clothes altered, made or mended.
- Whist we are on the subject, planning your outfits.....ok so this is most likely a bit extreme but it's definitely important to plan what you want to wear. Why you ask? Well there is nothing worse than having something you desperately want to wear only to realise you never ended up getting around to having it mended or altered as above.
- If you need a new outfit, start the shopping plans now. You know it always happens when you really want something you can't find it anywhere. Give yourself plenty of time and you may at least find something better.
- If you have guests that usually come to stay or just stay the night unexpectedly around the festive season; than get the guest room or at least the guest linens washed, aired and ready for use.
- Book in some friend or family get togethers. Christmas gets really busy so starting to book in now for those dear people you don't see on Christmas Day is essential for around the Christmas period. Whether you make plans now in November or for after Christmas it's good to get your calendars prepped asap. Plus the weeks surrounding Christmas gets hectic and if you can get a few catch ups off your list you have more time to get Christmas ready.
- Ask everyone their Christmas Wish List - this way you can start to shop sales or have more time to prep what presents you will be buying. Whilst you're at it make your own Christmas wish list and get gifts you really want this year (plus your family will thank you for decreasing their stress a little).
It's nearing the end of November...
So by now you should've done the cleaning, gotten your budget planned and gotten rid of some annoying nitty gritty details that you usually would have forgotten. Now its time to make Lists and lots of them. These lists will be ready for the start of December and hopefully mean that being organised will mean you are happier, calmer and in the real spirit of Christmas. Let's see some lists that are essentials -
- Hand made gifts (what you will need, who are they for and a date to do them).
- Hand made baked gifts (as above - these are both great to see if you have a friend who is doing the same thing and you can either have a cookie swap meaning you both bake a batch of different types and swap half, or you can make a day of it and catch up and be productive).
- Crafts that you are planning to make such as wrapping paper, cards, decorations...if you have kids, it's a perfect time to get them involved (this is also a great activity to start in November and continue into the December month).
- Seasonal food lists - great idea for saving money and knowing what recipes you can make with less stress of racing around the supermarket only to find out its not in season and is impossible to find. Avoids unnecessary heartache.
- Recipes of everything you will be cooking around this festive period, remember key ingredients for left over meals as well as the big day. Also good to remember to have some easy back up options for unexpected guests even if its just a little cheese platter.
- Food to buy when on sale and right before Christmas (think fresh fruit, veggies and the main attraction being Ham or Turkey).
- Gift lists - make sure you have a list of who to buy for and what you already have.
- Websites that have great gift ideas and any sale emails you may have received. Also this is the best time to use up any credit card rewards and gift vouchers you may have collected.
December - its beginning to look a lot like christmas
We have made it to December, don't you feel better without the added burden of what you got ticked off last month? Now that all that boring stuff is done its time to dive head first into the Christmas spirit.
DECORATIONS! it is now officially the time where its acceptable to put up your Christmas decorations, I personally think as soon as the shops put them out its perfectly fine for you to follow suit (but I know that's a minority opinion there). The 1st of December is traditionally when people will put up the tree, the lights and any other decorations including outdoors although if you go all out like the Christmas light champions, you will be starting well before now to get them ready in time.
Now is the time to get your gift shopping done if you have not already done so (you keen bean you). If you are more of an online shopper usually prepare to have things ordered before 2 weeks before Christmas to be on the safe side (although a lot of local online stores can guarantee delivery before Christmas only a few business days before the big day, but do your research).
If you're braving the stores (what a hero) then its best to hit them as early as possible again the sooner the better. If you work near a shopping mall doing what you can either before or after work or during a lunch break (even if its one gift a day) can really help with releasing the burden of spending a whole day trying to get it all done (as we all know this never happens).
Getting all those crafty goodies finalised and wrapped. Oh and if you're a card giver the first week of December its best to have them all ready to go and sent or given out. I am one of those people who think what a nice idea giving out cards would have been, but its now Christmas Eve and to late to do so.....
Start checking out the neighbourhoods Christmas lights, especially if you have kids. I find this really makes Christmas feel real to me....seeing everyone so happy and the magical lights.
Start listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies. I do not care what anyone says you can never watch enough or be immersed in the holidays to much.
Get all your presents wrapped. The earlier you start to wrap them the more time you have and the fancier you can be. Think of the fun you can have, maybe you can send people of a treasure hunt to find their gifts or create little riddles and rhymes for them. You can even theme your gifts per person or just in general. Really the options are endless.
Most of all have fun, be calm and enjoy.....no matter what everything that needs to get done will be done when its needed, these are just some ideas that may make the festival season just a little bit easier and stress free giving you more time to sit and smell the roses....cough cough or sip on some Mulled Wine.
Santa by any other name....
Alias Santa Names
El Nio Jesus
Test your Christmas Triviaview quiz statistics
Boney M - Feliz Navidad
how to wish a Merry Christmas around the world........
Spanish - Feliz Navidad
Swedish – God Jul
Turkish - Mutlu Noeller
Vietnamese - Chuć Mưǹg Giańg Sinh
Scotish Gaelic - Nollaig Chridheil
Romanian - Crăciun Fericit
New Zealand - Meri Kirihimete
Cornish - Nadelik Lowen
Israel – Hebrew - Chag Molad Sameach
German - Frohe Weihnachten
Cantonese - Seng Dan Fai Lok
Ethiopia - Melikam Gena
Here are some Christmas ready recipes from my other hubs you may wish to try....
- The Best Mulled Wine for Every Occasion!
Here is a yummy mulled wine that tastes like christmas in a glass and is so good it can be used for any occasion or just because...
- Linzertorte....a delicious easy crowd pleaser of a c...
Linzertorte is a pastry type cake that originally comes from Austria and is served up on special occasions typically around Christmas time.
- Easy Lobster Linguine
This is a delicious and deceptively simple recipe that will be sure to impress.
- How to Make Delicious Rosella Jam With Only 3 Ingred...
This is an easy recipe that will deliver fantastically delicious results. It's perfect for parties, snack time, or to give as a gift. It looks pretty no matter when or where you use it!
- How to make an Edible Flower Bouquet for any occasio...
Here is a great idea to to rival the tradition of giving flowers. These ones look just as impressive as the real deal, plus the recipient gets to indulge in the delicious treats hidden in the petals.
Wishing everyone a safe and wonderful Christmas !!!
© 2017 retromellie