Christmas is often classified by many as the most stressful time of year and we aren’t disagreeing. We are prone to leaving everything to the last minute, running around days before the big event buying last minute gifts for family members and making purchases for the home.
Well, this year we want to change, we want it all to be different, so we have taken note of some tips and tricks suggested by Louise House from PRIMO Life. She describes the same issue, where we find ourselves wondering where the last few months have gone and can feel the panic setting in because we “haven’t done a thing”. But never fear, follow these steps and you’ll be back on track in no time!
10-14 days before Christmas
Plan the menu (do it tonight) based on the number of people you expect to feed and your preferred entertaining style. Will it be a traditional, modern or casual meal? Breakfast, lunch or dinner? Choose dishes that you feel confident in preparing.
Make a list of ingredients and tick off any that are already in your pantry or freezer but check the use-by date first and ditch out-of-date items.
Identify ingredients that you can buy a week or more ahead of time and shop for these early.
Stick to the list and try not to be distracted by all the unnecessary extras the supermarkets tempt us with at this time of the year.
Some fresh growers markets open for 24 hours leading up to Christmas. They usually sell fantastic ready-made gourmet salads, desserts, fruit platters and pre-prepared vegetables. It’s expensive, but if you are time-poor and the budget can cope, it’s an effective way to reduce stress levels in the mad dash to the finish line.
Have a think about your table-setting needs for Christmas Day and decide if you have enough of everything – i.e. plates, glasses, napkins, cutlery, tablecloths and chairs. If it’s an informal lunch for a big group, you may just need to add disposable plates, glasses and napkins to your shopping list.
If decorating the table, keep it simple. A vase of fresh flowers and a couple of glass hurricanes with candles is all that is need to mark the occasion.
Buy these as early as possible. Shop for specials to save money.
Consider how you will keep drinks cold on the day. For large groups, you will probably need tubs of ice or eskies.
If you have freezer space, buy the ice now as it is often in short supply by Christmas Eve.
• Make a list of who you need to buy for.
• Decide how much you can afford to spend on each person and keep to the limit. A maxed-out credit card does not make for a happy new year.
• Wrap the gifts as soon as you get them home and put them under the tree.
• Try not to stress over gifts – remember it’s the thought that counts.
Tip: With the current trend away from excess possessions, consider buying ‘an experience’ rather than potential future clutter. A treatment at a day-spa, sunset river cruise, restaurant voucher, surfing lesson, day trip to Rotto, cooking lesson or movie tickets… the list goes on.
7-10 days before Christmas
• Buy all the non-perishables and frozen items on your ingredients list.
• Start to plan for the three days before Christmas. A detailed written schedule may seem a bit overboard now, but will help you get through final preparations when fatigue causes forgetfulness.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to delegate jobs to others who will be attending – e.g.: pick up the ice, bring some extra chairs, etc.
3-1 days before Christmas
• Buy perishables.
• Make sure you have the turkey thawing in the fridge. They can take three days to thaw – read the instructions.
• Set the table, polish the glasses, sort out serving dishes. No need to go overboard with the table-setting. Remember flowers, candles and even through in some colourful napkins and a few Christmas crackers if you wish.
• Pre-prepare as much of the food as you can on Christmas Eve.
• Pat yourself on the back for being so organised.