If you’ve felt tired throughout the season and as if it just passed you by please read on (and Pin this) – I’m going to share some ideas to help you have a wonderful Christmas next year. That is, one without the intensity of activity in the depths of winter. We could all do without that couldn’t we?
We had a wonderful Christmas and I hope you did too.
I’ve spoken about how weary I was in the build up to it this year. In fact since the arrival of our second child Christmas seems to be increasingly stressful. Of course our girls are worth it, they are so precious. But being an older mum my husband and I are the squeezed generation, with concerns for the young and older family members influencing our lives. Lord knows, we wouldn’t have it any other way, but in this scenario something has to give.
You know how I love to decorate, recycling and making as I go and, even though this gives us a wonderful, unique and ethical home. Nevertheless in stressful times I wonder if I spend too much time on it rather than the relationships between those within it.
Despite my 12 posts of Christmas and the long term decorating plans they convey I’m determined this year to hang up my tool box in mid October and use my time more wisely. That is, spending time making pre Christmas memories with the family, rather than chasing them out of my way.
With that in mind I’ve also thought of ways to organise things throughout the year to make the Christmas period less stressful, allowing a joyful time with the family.
When you put away decorations make an Advent box
I started to do this because we have a wooden advent calendar,so it’s necessary to be able to reach it quickly at the start of December without having to break into boxes to find it. Now any advent decorations I put out, for example the nativity scene, I put it in the same box.
You can also keep last years Christmas cards, Christmas movies and music – anything you’ll need before you put the tree up. Lable the box so you can find it too and if you can stretch to it try and swap any cardboard boxes for large, stackable ones for ease and safety.
Box up decorations per room
I have my Christmas crockery, lights, advent box, evergreen boughs etc all in seperate, labelled plastic boxes. I do this because Christmas Decorations can be time consuming to put up, depending on how extensively you decorate the house.
Having separate boxes means you can do your advent decorations easily by breaking it down to manageable and enjoyable portions. Do just the tree, then the staircase, the dining room, guest rooms….you get the drift. If everything is in all together you have to get everything out and sort it, so the foreward planning is a sanity saver.
Make a decorations needed list in your Christmas book
Perhaps, like me, you have a nasty habit of scanning pinterest for Christmas decor inspiration and have thought to yourself “I’d have liked to have done that”; well now’s the time to make a note. For us it’s an exterior light in the shape of a deer. If you see one in the sale great, tick it off your list. However if you tend to pick a couple of things up each year prior to decorating your home you can become aware of any areas you want to highlight instead of grabbing the same type of tree decoration each year. This leads me to my next point…
Start shopping early, as early as the January sales
Christmas is expensive, even when you make a conscious effort to not make it too commercial. However if you have a little cash left over you can start to grab bargains specifically with next Christmas in mind. Wrapping paper and cards are often reduced, as are toiletry gift sets and other Christmas gifts packaged specifically for the season.
In terms of clothes you can tuck away next year’s size Christmas jumpers or pajamas for little ones.
If you’re careful the summer sales can also be a good hunting ground. As Christmas is in winter if you’re going to buy clothes for others it’s best that it’s something that can be worn all year round; a sumptuous shrug for evening wear (the majority of us ladies don’t want to show our upper arms), a pashmina scarf, a handbag. If you have loved ones that oscillate in the weight department (that would be me) accessories are great as long as their timeless.
One thing I’d be very cautious about buying is children’s presents; what they love one minute can be a bore in a year’s time.
Keep a Christmas book to record presents
If you’re shopping throughout the year keep a running list of what you’ve bought whom. I’ve no doubt you’ll be hiding things away and you don’t want to waste your budget by getting too many presents.
Wrap throughout the year
Although the idea of a glass of wine and presents to wrap with Christmas music in the background is a wonderful, romantic image, since my children it’s more a stressful mishmash of just getting the paper on. I think it’s because everything in life fits around them and our house refurbishment, so presents are bought late, inevitably my husband is working away the month before and you have to wait until they go to sleep until you can start. In the run up to Christmas they never want to go to sleep, so late nights for me.
So this year as I buy I’m going to wrap and put them somewhere safe. Hence the need for the Christmas book.
Think of making adults presents
Have you got to the stage yet where your family members are hinting that they just don’t want anything. Gift giving can become a round of just buying anything can’t it?
So maybe this year give gifts you’ve made. They don’t have to be baked goods, and therefore last minute added stress, but they can be something you make throughout the year too. A good example are my coasters that I made this year. My friends loved them and one of them I’ve promised to give a set to next year, but with the added personalisation of the 12 days of Christmas. She was married in the season and the song was her theme.
Make the Christmas pudding and cakes on a special day, but early in the year.
My girls birthdays are October and November respectively. For the last few years we’ve been too busy to make these, but this year I’m determined to do one or the other on their birthdays. Some wait until stir up Sunday, but Christmas cakes can be made way earlier than that due to their alcohol content.
Perhaps you want to make the first day of Autumn, or make them the last day of the half term holidays – pick an earlier date and put them away, ticking them of your to do list as you go. Think of making any extra ones as gifts too.
Flu jabs for older family members (encourage them to go) and cod liver oil capsules for everyone- keep colds and flu at bay.
Remember Black Friday
As November approaches make a point to note in your calendar when Black Friday is and get ready to shop at some discount prices. I must admit that for my family who live overseas I buy through Amazon on Black Friday and check the gift wrap box, having them sent early to them.
Write cards and stamp early November to send December 1st
When I was younger the decorations on early display in the shops always made me excited. I used to have all my gift buying finished by October and had my tree up early December. I’m more restrained (read busy) now, so I’ve stopped doing this as much.
However writing two or three cards from November onwards is a good way to stop yourself getting writers cramp. Write the addressee on the envelope, but not the address as there may be some last minute changes. You can stamp them early too and have them ready to go on the 1st December.
Send Christmas guests info for their stay
I’ve spoken about preparing for your guests to stay so they have minimal things to bring. I think it’s so important as this is a stressful time not only for those hosting, but those travelling long distances. Sending information ahead of time can help them – less stressed guests means less stressed hosts. I’m going to make a detailed post on this later in the year.
Clean and prepare Christmas guest rooms a week in advance
We have locks on our guest rooms specifically so we can do this without our little one getting in and destroying everything she sees. I might have to run a duster over the room later, but cleaning and preparing it early means that you’re confident you can welcome guests as you’d like.
Allocate decorating jobs to family members
Whether it’s the external light display, or boughs of greenery over mantles giving decorating tasks to family members allows you to share the pleasure as well as alleviate stress. If you follow the earlier advice of separating your boxes of decorations out, they can decorate a room each themselves.
Have Christmas task for kids to focus them for the nice list
If you talk about the naughty and nice list having tasks helps your children to focus positively on what to do to make sure they make the grade. Inevitably and more importantly this will ensure they’re contributing to the giving of Christmas by their fulfilling tasks that contribute to the whole.
Christmas doesn’t just happen. It takes a lot of time to think about the organisation of it, the needs of individuals and their desires too. Everyone has their part to play in that even though some people play a greater role.
Additionally by taking part in the work of the preparation they have an understanding of what others have done for them. If it all happens by magic don’t be surprised when they become demanding and take it for granted. That doesn’t mean to say that the special magical elements can’t remain; it’s just that- as every Hallmark movie will tell you – that isn’t really what Christmas is about. Love starts with thinking of the other not the glitter.
Have a separate holiday activity box for kids
This can be Christmas related craft bought in the shops or focused on your to do list; but the thing is for you to get on without sitting them in front of the tv it’s best to be organised in terms of what they’re going to be doing whilst you’re busy.
Paper chains for their bedroom, popcorn garlands whilst Christmas music plays, cutting up last year’s Christmas cards for gift tags, colouring in a series of pictures of the nativity story and making their own book……anything that you don’t have to hover near for them to stay entertained (obviously thinking about ages with scissors here).
You could even tie your to do list to the fun activity list – complete a certain number of tasks to earn a Christmas colouring book for example.
When you’re Christmas shopping you may want to think about buying extra presents that you can wrap and put aside in a just in case pile. A neighbour may gift you something and it’s embarrassing not to give something back. They don’t have to be big and you can always put them aside for next year.
Do an online shop
My husband loves food shopping and I had to persuade him in the midst of our tense Christmas this year to do one online. Wow did it make a difference!
It also helps when you’ve made a menu plan and shopping list early and you’ve already bought things you can in the weeks proceeding. Just go through with a highlighter and mark off anything that a dry, long date product and start putting them away in November and December.
Work out a child minding routine
Obviously book child minders way in advance for joint outings for you and your spouse, but between the two of you too.
This year we had an agreement that one could drink and be merry one night and the other would do the bedtime routine and getting up early the next day. The roles would then be reversed, with one remaining alcohol free and do the routine, rising early the next day.
We had guests staying throughout the Yuletide so being clear on this helped.
Think of seperating the meal from the day itself
By the meal I mean the main feast. However your nation divides up your Christmas period there’s normally a big, tradional Christmas meal. In the U.K. we have Christmas Day and Boxing Day as our main holidays – the 25th and 26th respectively.
France tends to focus on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day- there’s no Boxing Day equivalent. I know that the US is different again.
The U.K. tradition has church, gift giving and a big roast dinner all in one day. The table is always laid beautifully on that day too. However as we’ve grown richer as a nation the piles of gifts and piles of food have got bigger and more complicated.
Since my eldest daughter’s second Christmas we haven’t done the fully laid table on Christmas Day; opting for Christmas crockery and plastic table cloths. We found that we were all too tired after the build up to Christmas and our daughter’s difficulty in containing her excitement (read tantrums as it was all too much).
That was the first time we decided to do the table the next day. Grown up clothes, china and crystal were all brought out after she’d gone to bed and we had a lovely meal. It became our tradition after that to separate the adult meal from the Christmas Day.
This year we swapped our Boxing Day meal of beef Wellington for the roast and we had the latter on the Boxing Day. We just thought that the still special beef was less time intensive and as a result for the first time my husband, who does the cooking, was able to sit throughout the gift giving and relax with us on the day. Then the Boxing Day we had the traditional meal.
Traditions are wonderful, but let’s not be afraid to make them work for us.
Have you got any time and sanity saving Christmas tips? How did your Christmas go?
3 thoughts on “20 Ways To Start Now For The Perfect Christmas Next Year”
Thanks for sharing Article !!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
Thank you so much!