Holiday season 101 is officially here. December has hit and that means that Christmas is right around the corner. It can often seem as though the festive season creeps up on us all faster and faster every year. You know what I mean? One minute we’re celebrating Halloween, then down come the skeletons and pumpkins only to be replaced by reindeers and snowflakes.
This can all be very exciting but can leave you feeling a little rushed off your feet. After all, just when are we supposed to prepare for Christmas and everything it brings? Not only do we have to plan the perfect gifts, there is also food, drinks and decor to think about.
Plus, we need to find time to fulfill the true meaning of Christmas: spending time with family and friends. But as is the norm with most important events, many of us tend to do most of our organizing last-minute.
This can lead to a lot of panic-buying at sky-high prices – many stores and companies will play on the fact that the closer it gets to Christmas, the more desperate people will be. If you are determined to make this year your first stress-free Christmas in years, take a look at these tips on how to get prepared.
The Holiday Season 101 for Having a Stress-Free Christmas
Decorating your house as if you were an elf
There is something magical about getting the Christmas decorations out each year. Perhaps it brings back memories of festive times with your parents when you still lived at home, or maybe you are simply a lover of anything cute and cozy.
If you’re hosting Christmas Day for your family this year, you probably feel a little more pressure than usual to get your pad looking the part. But consider how far you really need to go and what your motives are behind big-budget decorating. You may live on a street where Christmas lights are all the rage, but adorning your home simply to match up to the ‘competition’ probably won’t actually make you feel all that Christmas-y – at least when you see your electricity bill at the end of the month!
Instead, consider keeping your decorations a little more low-key and think about where you source them from. You may be surprised at the festive bargains you can get from thrift shops rather than designer stores. Or why not hold a festive swap-shop with your friends? You can probably all do with updating your decor collections and if you are all hosting Christmas it’s a great way to inject some life back into your homes.
Getting all the gifts
It goes without saying that leaving gifts until the last minute is always a bad idea. Not only do the prices increase the closer it gets to the big day, you may also find that delivery does as well. Try keeping a note throughout the year of things you think people may like (I always have one going in my iPhone). When inspiration hits it’s always best to write it down so that you remember it.
If you and your family write lists for Christmas, set a new rule in place that all lists need to be shared around the group by the first of December. There is nothing worse than someone handing you a list a week before Christmas and somehow expecting their very niche gift to miraculously turn up on the day.
Once you have a clear idea of what you are going to get everyone, make a separate list of which items you can buy online and which ones you will need to get in store. There are some things that are best to look at in person, such as clothing. That way, you can measure it against yourself to see if you have got the right size. For unusual gift ideas, you may want to look online instead. Plus, you can do in from your sofa with a rum + egg nog in hand, which makes the whole shopping experience much less stressful.
Making sure you have enough food
If there’s one thing that everyone loves about Christmas, it’s the food. Christmas Day and Thanksgiving are usually the only times a year that we actually sit down and eat with our entire family, so it’s only right that it’s a little bit special.
Cooking, however, can be stressful at the best of times (everyone who knows me knows that I don’t cook pretty much ever) let alone when you’ve got your whole family around you and Christmas songs blaring in your ear. But, there are things you can do to make the whole experience slightly less crazy.
Always order your food, especially the turkey, in advance. You will also need to get hold of a nut roast if you have any vegetarians or vegans in your family. Once you have everything, consider what you can prepare in advance. The Christmas pudding is an obvious one. It always tastes best when made in advance and then left in a cool dry place to mature until you finally eat it.
You may also want to freeze any vegetables you plan to use and then defrost them on Christmas Eve. Buying ingredients the day before Christmas never goes all that well – many other people have the same idea and the shelves at the store are usually bare. But buying too far in advance means that your veggies are susceptible to going bad before it’s even time to cook them. You will save yourself a lot of hassle by freezing your vegetables until you need them.
This ‘Holiday Season 101’ post was contributed to The Lady-like Leopard.