With just 35 days to go until Christmas, the countdown to the festive season is officially underway! But how can you make the most of the big day, avoid arguments, eat the very best food, be kind to the environment – and yourselves – and ensure you give (and receive!) some excellent presents without spending a whole month’s salary?
As the festive season is creeping ever closer, we’ve made it our mission to bring you a helpful guide on how to prepare for the best Christmas ever!
Be Environmentally Aware
When wrapping presents, try to be as environmentally conscious as possible; while it’s nice to have lots of little presents under the tree – if they’re all for the same person, how about wrapping them all in one? It’s not about what they look like, it’s what’s inside that counts! Also, try to buy local as much as possible – English sparkling wine is a fantastic option these days and it reduces your carbon footprint as it’s travelled significantly less than your favourite New Zealand sauvignon.
Listen to hints – and drop some along the way
There’s nothing worse than spending lots of money on a present for your loved one, only to find out they’ve already got it or, heaven forbid, they hate it. Spend the next few weeks asking questions about things they like best, what they would like to do, their favourite types of jewellery or clothes they wear or need. Try to be as perceptive as possible and make a list so that you just can’t go wrong! And of course, start buying early so there’s no rush presents brought!
Stock up on drinks for everyone!
Before the big day, ask around to find out what your guests’ favourite tipples are. Knowing what people like before you shop is going to save you lots of money and prevent you from adding to that four fifths drunk bottle of Tia Maria in the back cupboard that’s sat there since Christmas 2007. Be courteous to any mums-to-be or non-drinkers who might be coming; there are so many quality non-alcoholic Champagnes and sparkling wines on the market now, your guests will be touched that you thought about them.
Attend events for inspiration
There are lots of fantastic festive events to get you in the mood, and markets which can help you get Christmas all wrapped up before December even arrives.
There’s something extra special about having a gift with your name on or a joke specific to you and your loved one so really consider what you can buy; whether that’s jewellery, a picture or a bottle of their favourite gin.
Give your Christmas centrepiece the wow factor
Christmas centrepieces are a sophisticated way to add pop to a room and you can either make them yourselves with the right skills and material – or buy them, ready to display.
Make sure you don’t miss anyone from the list
November is the best time to get your guest list complete! Make sure no elderly relatives will be on their own and check if couples will be spending it together, or with their individual parents. There are no rules these days so make no assumptions and if someone has a friend they want to bring along – or you’re the guest with the friend – make sure the host is happy before extending your invite!
Book your travel
If you’re going away for Christmas, make sure you book your flights or train now as they can rocket in price and get booked up!
Have a drawer of Emergency Gifts ready
While it might sound rather impersonal, what’s more offensive is not having a present at all when they’ve bought you one! Make sure you have a selection of standard, quality, thoughtful gifts that you can choose from for your loved ones that you’ve brought nice and early. They don’t need to be expensive but try to buy something special, from a boutique brand that all people would love, rather than the obvious three-for-two gift offer from your local supermarket!
Party – but not too much!
We’ve all heard the phrase “burning the candle at both ends” and that’s exactly what we all tend to do over the Christmas season. With work deadlines creeping up, and non-stop festive drinks and parties it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep but try to make a conscious effort to have a few nights in, in the run-up to the big day. You need to be on top form not only for your guests but give yourself the chance to really enjoy the best time of the year so don’t be afraid to turn invitations down!
Book in your beauty
Your hairdresser is going to be even busier than YOU this Christmas so make sure you’re booked in with them nice and early to avoid disappointment. Now’s the best time to drop them a line and confirm your time.
Make a List
This may sound obvious but make a list of what you want to buy – and what you have bought so you don’t forget anything or go madly over budget on one person. Keep the list for the following years so you don’t go buying the same gifts for family and keep your receipts with guarantees in an envelope so people can easily change them if something goes wrong.
Now’s the perfect time to get baking – this will save time and money in December. Get baking mince pieces, vegetable dishes, canapes and gravy in advance so you don’t have to buy them expensive from the store or make them in a hurry the week of the big day!