Things To Do In The Run-Up To Christmas: Dates For Your Diary
For many of us, Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year – if not the busiest. While people talk about the actual day being manic, what with cooking the Christmas lunch and especially-so if we have children and are entertaining guests; the run-up to the big day can be equally as stressful and needs to be well planned to make sure everything gets completed. It almost needs military precision, as there are many different things that need doing, and need doing to short timescales. It can be one of those occasions where if one day, or one task during the day does not go to plan, it has a ‘domino effect’ that can lead to extreme stress.
These are things that can be completed well in advance of the big day so that Christmas Day goes to plan and is enjoyable. With many of these ‘things to do’, the earlier they can be completed, the quicker they will be out of the way and there will be one less thing to worry about. With most of the tasks in this list, while dates have been given for guidance; getting the task finished and out of the way will mean one less thing to worry about. The only time this may not be practical is when discussing food – especially perishable goods as I will talk about shortly.
SUNDAY 4TH DECEMBER – TIME TO HAVE CHRISTMAS CARDS WRITTEN
No doubt about it, there will always be one of two people who we forget to write a card for, having to write and deliver these at the last minute. This timely task in the main part is better-off out of the way as early as possible. Writing cards early gets the task out of the way so that we do not have to spend valuable weekdays and precious weekends doing these – especially as social events and so-on seem to take over in December.
Completing these by this date also allows time for us to hand deliver the cards to family, friends and work colleagues (before people start taking holiday time off work. It also allows time to post via first or second class post. I’m not sure about the dates for countries abroad, but I have a feeling that for distant countries such as Australia and New Zealand, the deadline for Christmas post is very soon.
Even if sending cards or parcels in this country, plenty of time should still be given, as the volume of the post leading up to Christmas does tend to slow the service down a little. This also goes for ordering items off the internet or catalogues.
SATURDAY / SUNDAY 10TH AND 11TH DECEMBER – IDEAL TIME TO PUT UP THE CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS
The time this takes all depends on the type and size of the Christmas tree and how many decorations we are planning to put up around the house. No matter how organised we seem to be, this job seems to take a whole weekend. If having a real tree, then there is the job of choosing and collecting it. Of course, the small task of getting all of the trimmings out of the loft or downstairs cupboard, wiping of the dust off and starting to put everything up – is probably a must for us all.
Now is the best time to get these decorations put up, as weeknights aren’t really long enough and the weekends before Christmas will likely be filled with last minute shopping or social events. At least once the decorations are up, the boxes can be stored and forgotten about until the new year.
SUNDAY 18TH DECEMBER – TRY TO HAVE ALL CHRISTMAS SHOPPING FINISHED
There is surely nothing more stressful at this time of year than rushing around at the last minute buying presents. I always watch in amazement those poor people rushing round like headless chickens half-an-hour before closing time on Christmas Eve and remember one year that this nearly happened to me (though thankfully I was rushing round like this the day before Christmas Eve). Last minute presents usually ends up being something that we did not really want to buy, but have simply bought it due to lack of time. Shopping early allows us to take greater care over choosing presents – especially those for loved ones. There may even be time to make your own presents (something that is becoming increasingly popular) with the effort often being greatly appreciated.
‘Getting in early’ is even more important when buying presents off the internet. I have a feeling that Sunday 18th December is the last day for posting items in time for Christmas, though to be honest, I would not leave it this late – firstly that a slight delay, for bad weather or whatever, may delay the parcel. Also, even if it does arrive before Christmas, it will be only a day or two from Christmas Day. This gives little time to wrap the present and if needed, to deliver it. Lateness here also leaves no time to return the item if it is damaged.
TUESDAY 20TH DECEMBER – TRY TO HAVE ALL PRESENTS WRAPPED AND READY TO GO
There are always a few last minute presents that will need wrapping in the final days, where we buy a few extras for family or something of the edible variety that needs to be bought at the last minute. Aside from these one or two presents though, to avoid last minute wrapping, it is a good idea to have presents wrapped and ready to be delivered a few days before Christmas. This way they can be handed out at parties, house visits and other social occasions, without having a mad rush on Christmas Eve or even Christmas morning. Having most presents wrapped by the 20th December should allow for these presents to be delivered over the next three days.
WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY AND FRIDAY, 21ST, 22ND AND 23RD DECEMBER – FOOD SHOPPING TIME
Whatever time of day; be prepared for parking chaos and long queues – especially at supermarkets and shopping centres. This time is the time for food shopping! Though it is a good idea to buy foodstuffs that keep longer in advance, things like fresh meat, vegetables, dairy products and some cakes will simply not stay fresh if bought before this time.
Before going out to do the food shop, it is essential to get into ‘the right frame of mind’. Leave the house with the expectation that car parking will be an absolute nightmare, that it will take ages to go around any shop in the land, that isles will be rammed full of trolleys (probably a fair few going over our feet) – and then don’t expect to be quick going through the checkouts. You can guarantee that the person in front will have two heaped trolley-full’s of food and about 50 bottles of wine.
If going to the supermarket or large shopping centre, it is probably best to go earlier in the day. While it will no doubt be full, it won’t probably be quite so full as later-on in the day, plus we can ‘get the pain out the way’ sooner rather than later. Then again, shopping can also be enjoyable. It is always nice to use local independent business (if they are good ones), farmers markets and Christmas markets –of which there seem to be plenty this time of year- can also be handy for picking up the odd item, especially fresh ‘perishable’ items without needing to go to the supermarket.
FRIDAY 23RD DECEMBER – ANY OTHER LAST MINUTE THINGS TO DO
The day before Christmas Eve can be a good day to tie up all the loose ends before Christmas. This may be the day to collect the Christmas bird or any other fresh meat ordered (separate from the main food shopping) and also to deliver any presents to people – unless we will be seeing them on Christmas Eve. Even so, it may still take the worry off us delivering these presents rather than waiting until the following day, as this is one less thing to think about.
SATURDAY 24TH DECEMBER – IF THINGS HAVE GONE TO PLAN, THE DAY SHOULD BE FAIRLY RELAXED, WITH PUTTING THE FEET UP OR SOCIALISING
If things have gone to plan, this should be a day to enjoy. If you do have to work, at least all of the Christmas jobs should be completed and not needing to be finished when arriving home. For many this is a day to put the feet up, travel or see friends and family.
If, for whatever reason, things have not quite gone to plan, Christmas Eve does provide that one last day to get things finished, whether this is some last minute shopping or present wrapping.
If you are feeling really organised, the mid-late afternoon of this day can be used to cook the meat (to save doing this the following day) or prepare the vegetables for Christmas lunch.
Then follows the big day…
ON THAT NOTE ALL THAT IS LEFT TO SAY IS DON’T FORGET TO LEAVE A MINCE PIE AND GLASS OF SOMETHING NICE FOR SANTA AND A CARROT FOR THE REINDEER.