Nothing beats the Christmas run-up; long evenings huddling in the pub drinking mulled wine, endless discussions about which is the best Christmas sandwich on offer this year, and the frantic search for the winning Christmas gift for the ones we love (and the ones we barely know who's name we pulled out in the Secret Santa draw).
If the Sainsbury's Christmas advert is anything to go by, we're all going to be frazzled by mid December, so we've put together our top ten tips on making the festive season as fun and stress-free as possible:
1. Lists are Everything
From carving out a present strategy, to keeping a firm grip on your diary so you don't end up missing key events or order deadlines, list making is the only way to feel in control over Christmas. Make lists of people you need to buy for, food and drink you need to stock up with, and house prep you need to nail before the guests start piling in.
Pop all addresses for your Christmas cards in a spreadsheet that you keep updated during the year, and print out as labels come Christmas time.
2. Make space for food and gifts
Now is the time to eat your way through the freezer so that not only can you stock it up with festive goodies, but you'll have space after meals to freeze down the left-overs to avoid waste.
Similarly, if you've been meaning to do a charity shop run. Now is the time! It will free up some space for *crosses fingers* Christmas gifts, as well as giving others the opportunity to bag a bargain on you and contribute to charity.
You're going to need plenty of space in the hallway for people's coats and bags so pop yours upstairs out of the way, or invest in a couple of new hooks and baskets to tidy shoes away.
3. Buy little and often
There is nothing sadder than a last minute purchase of an expensive yet disappointing gift. Start your Christmas shopping now and maybe cut back a little bit and aim for one thoughtful gift over three expensive panic purchases. This also helps to spread the cost of gifts, and you can make the most of discounts and special offers. Have a look at our Christmas Gifts Under £20 - you don't need to spend lots to get completely unique gifts.
Thoughtful is easier than you think. Planning on buying a photo frame for someone? Print out a picture of a happy memory you have together and pop it in.
4. Final touches make all the difference
We don't always have time to create breath-taking floral arrangements for the table or a handmade wreath for the door, however much we'd enjoy the process, so buying new little touches that you can proudly display around Christmastime makes all the difference. Give your table a luxe feel with real cotton napkins, or add a pop of colour to the hallway with faux flowers in a statement arrangement.
Eating and drinking are two of the most important and enjoyable bits of the festive season. Get your table ready for all the dining ahead. You don't need to buy a whole new dinner set to make things festive. We've got tips galore in our Deck the Halls Differently This Christmas post - have a peek and get ready to instantly change the look of your table.
Why not buy a Festive Christmas Stocking for every guest and hang it in their room as an extra special touch? Best. Host. Ever.
5. Be prepared
Invest in an extending table and stacking chairs so no matter who turns up - you're covered. Stock up on blankets and bedding so you can all snuggle on the sofa comfortably then make it to bed without any fuss.
Get some new games in. Even if you're not a big fan, they do a good job of bringing people together at Christmas.
And then do as much of the leg work as you can in advance. Whether that's chopping veg now and freezing it down, or writing your Christmas cards a little earlier than you normally do to free up time in the last few hectic weeks, whatever you achieve, consider yourself winning this festive season.
And most importantly, take time to enjoy the Christmas run-up. Things don't need to be perfect, make your own achievable Christmas traditions that balance Christmas calm with festive fun and you'll be winning.
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