Preparing for Christmas 2021
Let me start by saying I love Christmas. I think it’s so magical, with all the lights, decorations, events, celebrations, food, drink, parties and general merriment.
But as well as being one of the most special times of the year, it has huge potential to be one of the most stressful too. Especially if you’re hosting Christmas at your house.
Sometimes it’s easy to feel a lot of pressure to have a picture-perfect Christmas, but I think what makes it special is the unique traditions we all have at the end of the year.
My birthday is just before Christmas too so I like to make sure I’m really well prepared before things start to get busy. It’s the best way for me to be able to enjoy the festive season, rather than running around feeling frazzled.
So, if you’re planning on getting prepared early this year, here’s my Christmas prep list to get you started. My list is deliberately front-loaded so by the time you get to December there are only a few tasks left to do – more time to enjoy the festivities in December!
8-10 WEEKS TO GO
Create a timeline
Write a list of things to do and when you’re going to do them. This is the first step to getting organised before Christmas. It might sound like quite a lot of work but it means I don’t have to remember everything. I can just check in with the list and timeline every week to make sure I’m on track.
Set a budget
Every year I see horror stories in the news about how much debt people get into for Christmas, and I get it – it can be tempting to buy absolutely everything and get swept up in the commercial side of Christmas. But if you can set, save and stick to your budget, you’ll feel a lot better when the New Year rolls around and you’re not still paying for everyone’s presents. I decide my budget early on and then work out whether I really can afford to get everything I think I want.
Confirm dates with everyone who’s visiting
I always make sure I confirm visiting dates with everyone early on (so they don’t make alternative plans). I think there’s nothing more unsettling than not knowing what the plan is for Christmas. Especially when it’s happening at our house! There’s always a lot to think about so knowing how many people are arriving and when is key to a calm Christmas.
Order any new furniture
Furniture often has quite long lead times – sometimes 10 weeks plus. October is really your last chance to get those furniture orders in. I often find this time of year is a good opportunity to check we have enough seating for all our guests and start thinking about how we’re going to use the house when it’s full of visitors.
Make food shopping list
I never leave this to the last minute! My favourite trick is to save the list as a note in my phone and then use this again next year. This means I don’t have to rethink the whole thing! We have some great food traditions in our family so the grocery shop usually stays pretty similar year-on-year.
Order Christmas food
Once I’ve made my list, I keep an eye on when the Christmas food-to-order slots open. Last year I couldn’t get my prawn cocktail from M&S because it was sold out so I made sure to book as soon as they opened this year. The two that I always book are M&S and Waitrose – they do some delicious food at Christmas and it’s always great quality.
Book pre-Christmas beauty appointments
If you haven’t already done this, consider it fair warning! My local beautician always gets booked out super early so when it gets to October I book in all my nail appointments for the rest of the year.
6-8 WEEKS TO GO
Make your gift list
My favourite part of Christmas prep! I love making lists anyway so making a list of things I want other people to buy for my gifts is pure joy. I use a website called Checked Twice to add all my gifts to and I always encourage my family to do the same. Then when you buy something off someone’s list, you can tick that you’ve bought it so there aren’t any duplicate presents! This is also the time that I start pestering my family to send me their lists so I can start buying them in plenty of time.
Write down your Christmas schedule
I make sure I write down my Christmas schedule somewhere so I know how each day will pan out during the Christmas period. This includes making sure any events are in the diary and I know what time everyone is arriving for Christmas.
Check guest supplies and buy extras
By guest supplies, I mean things like bedding, towels, soap etc. I like to get this sorted early because then I don’t have to traipse around the shops at the busiest time of year looking for hand towels.
5 WEEKS TO GO
Check your decorations
I usually have a good idea of what decorations I’m going to be using each year but it’s still worth checking you have everything you want before December. Otherwise it can get frantic trying to find exactly what you’re after in the immediate run up to Christmas.
The big things I usually check are my artificial Christmas trees, any baubles that need replacing from breakages the previous year and Christmas lights for outside the house.
4 WEEKS TO GO
Finish buying Christmas presents
I always aim to have bought pretty much all Christmas presents for family and friends by the end of November. I may see a few extras to add in December but essentially I’m ready to go on the present front by the start of December.
Hang up your Christmas lights
You don’t necessarily have to switch them on as soon as you put them up, but I know I always find that hanging up the outdoor lights takes way longer than you’d think! If you get them up early, this is also another chance to work out if there are any gaps and if you need to buy any more lights.
3 WEEKS TO GO
Growing up, we always used to decorate much closer to Christmas (because my birthday is just before), but now I like to have everything up at the start of December. If you put your decorations up on 1st December, you still only really have 3-4 weeks to enjoy it before the New Year.
I also love to put Christmas tunes on and dedicate a day to decorating because it gives me time to get everything just right!
Write and send Christmas cards
I also write and send my Christmas cards at the start of December. This is one of those tasks on the list that’s easy to forget about but great to get out of the way. I maintain an address list for friends and family throughout the year so when it’s time to send Christmas cards it’s a straightforward case of running through the list. Sending cards at the start of December also means you’re well within the time frame for last posting dates.
On a similar note to sending Christmas cards, it’s a great idea to send any presents that are going to friends and family you won’t see in person at Christmas. If you’re sending anything overseas, you’ll need to do this earlier.
2 WEEKS TO GO
The real countdown begins! Now is the time to wrap all the presents you have for anyone you’re going to see at Christmas. I love putting them all under the tree because this is when I feel like I’m really well prepared! And it looks pretty.
Rearrange furniture and set up for your guests
Since we moved into our new house last year, we have a new way of arranging our furniture and rooms to accommodate more visitors than usual. We move our dining table out of the dining room and into the back of our lounge to create a 2nd living space with another TV. It’s always worth thinking about how your guests are going to want to use your house and rearrange things a couple of weeks before – again, it’s unnecessarily stressful to leave this until the last minute.
1 WEEK TO GO
Once we’ve rearranged all the furniture, this is the perfect time to do the pre-Christmas clean. It’s not very glamorous, but it is an essential part of hosting to make sure our guests feel at home and have a great time!
Get all the bedrooms ready
This includes making up the beds with our Christmas bedding, checking hand soap in the bathrooms, putting towels out and checking everything is clean. I bought a few sets of Christmas bedding last year and it really does add a special festive feeling to the house which is really lovely at this time of year.
Sit back and relax!
The best bit! Although there’s always a little bit of stress when you’re the one hosting, I absolutely love having our family over when I’m confident I’ve prepared everything and have got myself really organised. It might seem like a lot of effort, but part of the fun for me is being able to pull off an amazing Christmas for everyone.