The most wonderful time of the year is just around the corner! As the temperature drops, the nights grow longer, and towns across the country drape Christmas lights along their high streets, it’s hard to deny the joy that the festive season brings.
Are you hosting family this Christmas? Want to get ahead so you can make Christmas extra special for grandchildren? This guide is for you. There are many ways in which people prepare for Christmas, from the slow and steady present buyer who begins scouting the shops in September to the last-minute Christmas Eve rush of many across the nation. However, a little bit of preparation and planning is important.
We heard from Heather from the blog Of Beauty and Nothingness, who shared this with us: "My most important step when it comes to Christmas preparation is planning, especially in terms of gift buying. I am one of those people who will have all of my Christmas shopping done by October and wrapped up by November. The key is to plan ahead, write a list of everyone you would want to buy for and shop in the sales all year round."
Whether you’re looking for tips to stay on top of your wrapping or advice to avoid overstuffing your fridge, freezer and cupboards with seasonal snacks, take a look at this guide for some help.
One of the best ways to prepare for Christmas is to take advantage of Advent. Advent means ‘coming’; it is the three to four weeks that proceed Christmas – the purpose of which is to look forward to the coming celebrations beginning on 25th December.
It’s an important part of the Christmas observation, allowing individuals, families, and communities to prepare themselves spiritually, mentally, and physically for Christmas.
In a practical sense, Advent can be used to think about what needs to be done to prepare for Christmas, from food to presents to travel arrangements.
Advent is a lovely time of year to enjoy as a family. You can set up an Advent wreath, which features a series of candles, each lit on successive Sundays until the final central candle is lit on Christmas Day.
This is a lovely tradition for families to enjoy together, especially when children are involved. You can even sing traditional Advent songs to accompany lighting each candle. Advent calendars fulfil a similar purpose, building up to the big day while slowly preparing ourselves for the occasion throughout December.
One of the greatest joys of Advent is how it increases the overall enjoyment of Christmas itself. How many of us have despaired over Christmas being all too short? When Advent is observed as a precursor, you have time to ponder what Christmas is all about so you can truly savour all twelve days of Christmas when it finally arrives.
"I love Christmas, but the key to a successful Christmas is all in the preparation and giving yourself plenty of time", shares Emma from the blog Life According to Mrs Shilts.
“If you have time to plan, you can think about all the logistics, from budgeting to gift shopping, decorating the house, wrapping the presents, and buying and preparing the Christmas food. I like to plan in advance so that you can usually work around any issues you may face if you have time.”
Your Christmas preparations should certainly leave time for examining your current decorations. There’s a good chance you haven’t looked at them since last year, so it’s a good idea to plan time to make sure Christmas tree lights are in working order and none of the Christmas decorations are broken.
The last thing you want to do is get the box down from the attic to find that you need to rush to get some replacements a week before Christmas. If you do need to buy some more decorations, it doesn’t need to be an expensive affair; charity shops and discount stores can be great places to look.
You can even make some yourself. Why not get the grandkids involved this Advent, making some lovely decorations together as part of your Christmas preparations? Good Housekeeping has compiled an extensive list of easy-to-make decoration ideas.
Christmas cards are a lovely thing to send out to loved ones. You can find great enjoyment in writing a personal greeting to friends and family. If sending Christmas cards is something you would like to do, make sure to plan.
A lot of post gets sent around Christmas, and you don’t want your lovely cards to arrive late. So, make sure you have got all your cards written, enveloped and stamped well in advance and then take a trip to the post box at least a couple of weeks before Christmas Day.
It can be a great idea to get on top of Christmas food shopping early, especially if you are hosting Christmas this year. This is something that Lauren from the blog Laureny Loves agrees with:
"For me, the most important step when it comes to Christmas prep is getting as much food sorted for Christmas dinner the day before. Preparing food in advance really takes the stress out of the day, which means you can have fun. It allows you to spend as much time with family on Christmas Day rather than spending all your time in the kitchen!"
Are you going to be spending Christmas away from home? If so, it’s a good idea to make your travel arrangements well in advance. There’s a lot to do in the lead-up to Christmas, and the last thing you want is to rush around booking tickets or making reservations.
Think about all that needs to be done to make your Christmas trip possible and get it sorted as soon as you can. That way, you can enjoy the build-up to Christmas and make the celebrations themselves much more peaceful.
READ ALSO: A guide to staying safe at Christmas
Although many of us love giving presents, it’s important to remember Christmas as a time to spend with loved ones, regardless of whether you managed to pick up the latest gadgets for your grandchildren.
Being organised and sorting out what presents you’re planning can save you a lot of stress later on – ‘tis the season for giving after all! Read on to discover some top tips.
"My most important step when it comes to Christmas preparation is to start as early as possible", shares Chloe from the blog I'm Just a Girl. "I think saving for Christmas shopping all year round is a great piece of advice to bear in mind as it means that the costs aren't quite as overwhelming once December arrives.
“I would also advise enlisting the help of family members if you're going to be hosting Christmas Dinner so that not all the responsibility is on your shoulders!"
Melanie from the blog Melanie’s Fab Finds shared some tips for when it comes to buying gifts: “In terms of gifts, I buy throughout the year. Don't you sometimes see the perfect items for a friend after their birthday and think it's a shame that I've just seen this as they'd have loved it? Well, I think ahead, buy the item for Christmas, and it's one less item or 15 after a few months that I need to buy.”
Melanie also suggests making a list to keep on top of gift giving: “I keep lists of those I am buying for and what I have bought them once I get it so I can watch the people being ticked off my list and feel stress levels floating away. I don't like last-minute panics, which allows me to avoid them. Of course, it doesn't stop the hubby from wanting a gift for a friend at the last minute, but then, if that's all I have to worry about, it's fine.”
Madeline from the blog This Glorious Life agrees that writing lists is helpful in the gift-buying process: “The most important step for me when planning for Christmas is writing it all down. I use Google Sheets to create lists of who I need to buy presents for, ideas of what they might like, budgets, etc. Then, I update it when I buy and wrap things to know where I am with everything. Without these lists, I would lose track of everything that needs to be done!”
The month before Christmas is the perfect time to start formulating ideas for what you need to buy. This means you’ll be able to take advantage of any offers that shops may have to entice buyers through their doors.
Supporting local retailers during the busy Christmas season and heading to the high street is a great place to start, especially if you’re looking for one-of-a-kind homewares or accessories. However, you can also pick up some great branded options from supermarkets during your weekly shop.
A lot of people want to make an effort to support their local shops on the high street, especially at Christmas. This is certainly an admirable idea, but it can’t be denied that some of the best savings are found online, and it can be an easier way to shop for those with limited mobility.
If you use a straight or curved stair lift around your home, the internet is an invaluable tool to help make Christmas shopping easy. Online marketplaces like Amazon are a great place to start if you’re hoping to pick up a few different things for various family members. Alternatively, your usual go-to shops probably have an online store, so head to Google and have a search.
This is something that is recommended by Olivia from Dungarees and Donuts: “Trying to make your way through busy shops in December is never fun. Neither is leaving gift buying until the last minute; the stress can be a lot. As soon as it turns into December, everyone goes crazy for Christmas.
“Preparing in advance allows you to enjoy the festivities throughout December at your own pace. Alternatively, I'd recommend shopping online, do this around Black Friday for bigger purchases. Buying online is a great alternative. However, you must do it early enough to ensure everything arrives on time.”
Wrapping presents well in advance of Christmas Day is a good way to get organised and means you can take your time doing it. Sarah from Run, Jump, Scrap agrees: "My biggest Christmas preparation is to have wrapped up all Christmas presents and have written all cards before Christmas Eve!
“For me, the last-minute jobs are bringing all the presents downstairs arranged under the tree and putting in my kid's stockings. I don't want to have panic present wrapping! Instead, I prefer to enjoy a Christmas film and have a nice glass of wine, getting excited for the present opening on Christmas morning."
If you have a big family or perhaps a big circle of friends, the list of people you wish to buy for can sometimes seem overwhelming, so why not consider a game of Secret Santa? This is where a group of people exchange gifts anonymously based on a budget.
It is a great way for everyone in the group to feel valued without stretching your Christmas budget too far. Setting a budget for the gift also means you won’t need to feel guilty about not meeting your friend’s standard of gift-giving, particularly if they’ve set the bar high following last year’s luxury present.
When it comes to purchasing gifts, it is important to remember that it’s the thought that counts. Although gift-giving has become integral to the holiday, your friends and family are more likely to value something small that means something rather than lots of random presents.
Setting a budget is a good way to avoid getting carried away and makes planning easier. Writing down the list of names you need to buy for and how much you can spend can also help.
If you’re a grandparent, it may be tempting to spoil the little one; however, you should consult with their parents before splashing the cash on more expensive items.
Christmas can be a tough time for some, especially when it comes to exceeding expectations, so checking that they are okay with what you’d like to buy will probably be appreciated.
Additionally, you should consider that smaller children are less likely to understand the monetary value of their presents and will be happy to receive a few cheaper toys to play with.
READ ALSO: The ultimate Christmas gift-giving guide
We hope the above tips have proved useful and help you make your preparations for a lovely Christmas. With a bit of planning and taking a breath to think about what Christmas is all about, you can enjoy all that the season has to offer.
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