My tips on preparing well for Christmas

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A few weeks ago, a friend asked me what my tips were for getting organised for Christmas. It was an interesting question as I haven’t ever considered that I have any particular tips or routines to follow each year. However as I thought about it further, I realised that I do have a few habits that I follow in order to prepare for Christmas and so I thought I’d share some of them with you today.

Christmas gift app

We have a large extended family and so there are lots of people to keep in mind in the run up to Christmas. I find it really helpful to have a Christmas app on my phone with each family member that we buy gifts for listed on it. I use Manage Christmas. It allows me to set a budget for each person, which helps me to keep a track on what we are spending. It can get pretty expensive pretty quickly if I don’t follow a budget! I have the app on my phone all year around and sometimes make a note of a book or other item that I think that someone might like after we have spent time with them in the year.  That might seem like quite a lot of pre-planning but I hate the stress of trying to think of something to buy someone at Christmas time if I don’t have any natural ideas. I don’t purposively go through the year trying to add to my list in the app with gift ideas. It’s handy to have it there though in case an idea pops into my head as I spend time with that person. That way I have it there to remind me later on in the year.

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Keeping the cost down

As well as family to buy for, there are also friends. One way to help to keep the cost of Christmas down is to agree with friends or colleagues that you buy gifts for that you will purchase second hand books from charity shops for one another. We are actually holding a charity book shop at work next week in order to facilitate this! I think that choosing a book for someone is a very personal thing to do and shows that you have thought about that person and what they may enjoy. If you choose to pass on a copy of your favourite book, it’s also an opportunity to share something of yourself with a friend. Buying second hand keeps the cost down and also enables you to donate to charity at the same time. It’s a win/win in my opinion. 

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Write your Christmas cards now

I love sending cards. I try to write to friends and send cards in the post at odd occasions all year round. You may not be such a fan of handwritten notes and post as I am but if you plan to send Christmas cards this year then my advice is to do it now. Although I enjoy giving cards, I often overestimate how much time I have to do so and leave it until too late. This means that I can rush though writing them and don’t end up including the personal message or quick catch up note to friends who are far away that I want to. So now I buy my cards early and write a few in front of the TV each night or whenever I get a spare moment.

Write a ‘Big List Of 10’ for Christmas

Older readers may be familiar with an idea I stole from a friend a few years ago called ‘The Big List of 10’. I have a friend who writes a list in January each year of 10 things that he wants to do/achieve that year. He does it instead of setting resolutions. I decided to do the same a few years ago – you can read a post about it here.

This year I decided to have a chat with Mr P and write down a few things that we would like to do together as a family during the Christmas/New Year season. Writing the list means that we have made sure to carve out time as a family to focus on activities that will enable us to enjoy time together so that the holiday period doesn’t fly by in a whirl of ‘to-do’ lists and running from one engagement to the other. So far we have gone on a Christmas light up walk at Bedgebury forest and had a Christmas photo shoot with a friend who is a photographer. (I’ve more details on both of those things coming up in a post later on this month). Your list might including baking with your kids or making edible gifts for some of your family for example. You never know, the items on the list may turn in to a new Christmas tradition for you.

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Lower your expectations/standards 

One of the best pieces of advice that I received once I became a parent to Bugsy was to lower my standards. Massively. That piece of advice has come in handy more times that I can count. Every time I feel guilty that we are watching Cbeebies at 9.30am on a Monday morning instead of reading books, or Bugsy is eating Peppa Pig pasta (by request), again, for the third time that week, I remember that advice and try to take the pressure off of myself to be a perfect parent! I’m not. 

I think it’s important to apply the same rules to Christmas. Some of us may put unnecessary amounts of pressure on ourselves to buy the perfect gift, cook amazing meals, have a beautifully decorated home or have everything just so, all of the time. Unrealistic. Instead I prefer to plan just one or two things that I’d like to do really well over the holiday and then lower my standards for the rest! For example, this year I want to plan a really special Christmas team day for my colleagues (it’s one of my responsibilities at my 9-5) and to tick off some of the activities we have on our ‘big list of 10’ for Christmas (notice I said ‘some of’? Even lowering my expectations for that one too!) Then all the extras that we get to enjoy are just that – extras that we can be grateful for and appreciate as and when they happen.

How about you? How do you prepare for Christmas and New Year? Don’t forget to share your tips in the comments below!