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NOW CLOSED Share your top tips on how to make Christmas run smoothly with Clas Ohlson and be in with a chance of winning a £50 voucher

(102 Posts)
TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 12-Nov-12 17:36:55

The household goods retailer Clas Ohlson would like to hear your best advice and pearls of wisdom about how to make your Christmas run smoothly.

If you're not familiar with Clas Ohlson (and even if you are!) please do check out their pages on Mumsnet. Here are a few words from them: "Clas Ohlson sells thousands of useful products that aim to make everyday life easier. With Christmas just around the corner, we know that now's the time to get organised, which is where we can help!"

How do you approach Christmas? With a Zen-like calm and festive cheer? Or with an impending sense of doom and dread?

If you host Christmas, how do you stay organised and keep your home from turning into a tip? If you head elsewhere for Christmas, how do you make sure you take everything you need and don't forget essential pressies etc?

Please do share your advice and top tips for avoiding Christmas disasters and making the festive season run smoothly. Everyone who posts their comments on this thread will be entered into a prize draw to win a £50 Clas Ohlson voucher.

Clas Ohlson are also running a competition on MN - if you'd like to enter, please click here.

Thanks and good luck with the prize draw!
MNHQ

ZombieOnABicycle Tue 13-Nov-12 08:59:44

We tend to do 2 Christmas's one at home with my family and one away with the in laws.

The one at home is planned with military precision, non perishables are bought in October/November and anything that can be frozen is purchased in early December. We always order our veg from our local green grocer so we just have to walk to the village on Christmas eve and pick it all up knowing it's all been paid for well in advance.

Gifts are bought from about September onwards, my family have always done lists of gifts we'd like, so it makes finding gifts very easy, and we always do some small home made extras as filler gifts (ie jams, chocolates, embroidered towels)

For the inlaws trip, we always ensure we have a list of everything we need to take and tend to make sure it's packed before we have our family Christmas, as we then don't have to panic about last minute washing before we go away.

As for keeping the house tidy, we kind of accept that it's Christmas and it's not going to be a show house, after gifts are done we quickly clear away the rubbish and recycling which helps reduce the clutter, and everyone pitches in at helping doing washing up, rounds of tea and cooking - I guess that's the joy of a close family that has done this for years. And Aunts and Grandma can always be counted on to amuse DD is DP or I need to do something time consuming.

FreelanceMama Tue 13-Nov-12 10:06:47

How do you approach Christmas? With a Zen-like calm and festive cheer? Or with an impending sense of doom and dread?

I quite enjoy leaving preparations until a couple of weeks before Christmas. I might get the overseas cards sent out sooner but I try to block it all out until December. I'm a Christian so Christmas means a lot of things going on at Church starting with Advent Sunday so it's not all about the one day. In terms of our own Christmas celebrations at home, it's a mix of excitement (our baby's 1st Christmas) and apprehension (fitting in seeing all the family over a short period of time without getting exhausted).

If you host Christmas, how do you stay organised and keep your home from turning into a tip? If you head elsewhere for Christmas, how do you make sure you take everything you need and don't forget essential pressies etc?
I hosted Christmas last year and kept it quite simple. Bought in homemade frozen food from 'Cook' and added roast veg to it. We don't go overboard on presents so it kept pretty tidy. Divvied up the tasks between myself and my partner and didn't try to do too much.
When I've stayed elsewhere for Christmas it's not been particularly stressful remembering everything, although I think I've brought the odd spare present just in case someone got overlooked.

Calm Christmas chez sparetimesmile,
Christmas Eve, we go to the christingle service, bring home the candles afterward and as if by magic the Christmas pyjamas have appeared on the DCs pillows!
We never visit or have visitors for Christmas, which is our calm Christmas secret!
Stockings may be opened before dawn, but 7.30am is the absolute earliest the tree pile may be attacked.
All presents are recorded alongside the giver's name as they are opened, to make thank you letters easier to write.
Church, home, simple roast dinner with christingle candle light, then writing thank you letters.

ICutMyFootOnOccamsRazor Tue 13-Nov-12 23:51:29

I love Christmas and really enjoy all the bustle and festive atmosphere.

I'm lucky that my family all live quite near each other, so we host the whole family for a Christmas Eve dinner, and then I have my sister and best friend over for Christmas morning and we open stockings, eat bacon sandwiches and drink buck's fizz before heading off to my mother's for Christmas lunch. We take all the presents except the stockings to hers, so there's never a worry about forgetting things.

We do the same meal every Christmas Eve, which has the advantage of turning it into a nice tradition as well as making it easy for me. I have to tidy up straight after everyone's gone as there is never time in the morning before people pitch up again, which really suits me, as it means I wake up to a lovely tidy house on Christmas morning.

StainlessSteelCat Wed 14-Nov-12 20:30:36

If christmas is at ours, I organise the food with the list of lists. And back it up with extras in case we run out (we never do, we eat that in january!) Christmas day is just me, DP and the kids. We eat nibbles to keep the kids happy, have a roast dinner at some point, and eat far too much all through the day. very relaxed and not particularly organised.

cashmere Wed 14-Nov-12 21:31:13

Use IPhone to keep track of lists.

Have a basket at top and bottom of stairs to throw things in that need to be returned to their place around the house.

Have a definate area for wellies/coats/scarves- maybe set boxes.

In bathroom have a separate laundry basket for towels/face cloths so clothes don't get damp whilst waiting to be washed.

Set up how you'll display cards early so they don't clutter up the place.

Have a bin bag handy when opening presents.....for the wrappings to go straight in to!

CheeryCherry Wed 14-Nov-12 21:49:05

We usually have a good clear out and clean of every room in October half term, then stay on top of things til Christmas. When the decorations go up, I put away some pictures/nik naks so it doesn't get too cluttered. We have a constant stream of guests over Christmas so I work hard to keep everything organised and calm. Constantly 'remind' DCs to take things upstairs, put things away. Hoover every morning, tidy every evening before bed so it isn't all to do in the morning. Lots of lists! A food list for every busy day so everyone can help get prepared. And nothing too complex, we love good food, but love good company more! Most of all, focus on the positives, you can usually find a few!

MegBusset Wed 14-Nov-12 21:57:39

I don't try to keep my home from turning into a tip. I accept that it WILL turn into a tip and the best thing is to get drunk as early in the day as possible and not worry about it grin

I am lucky in that we don't have to cater for loads of people at Christmas. We have Christmas Day at home with just me, DH and the DC - other relatives visit in dribs and drabs over the festive period but we don't cook dinner for them - if people come for lunch we do an easy buffet.

TheTempest Thu 15-Nov-12 09:29:06

Clean thoroughly on the lead up to christmas, only invite lovely helpful unjudgemental people to Christmas and get merry!

Oh, and have a bin/black bags about for present opening to avoid the snowdrifts of paper everywhere.

i am a knitter, and given that there are only a certain number of knitting hours in a year i start quite a few presents as early as january!

i keep a list in the back of my diary of present ideas for people (birthdays and christmases - i have ideas going until the end of 2013)

dp is a teacher so often finishes work a few days before christmas and he tends to organise the last-minute jobs, whereas i do (well, we share them but i instigate!) the more long-range planning jobs

ouryve Thu 15-Nov-12 12:33:13

Ohmygosh, they sell twigs with lights on! Do they sell pebbly shit, as well!?

Anyhow, we keep Christmas fairly low key. The boys both have ASD and don't react well to their routines being disrupted, even if there's presents involved. In fact, DS2 is fairly uninterested in presents, anyhow and takes all day and sometimes longer to open a few gifts.

So, Christmas day, itself, is usually a quiet day at home, run at our own pace. MIL might pop round in the afternoon, but that's not out of the ordinary. We visit my family over new year, which breaks up the long school holidays and avoids piling all the pressure and change onto one particular day.

ShatnersBassoon Thu 15-Nov-12 12:50:13

I am a vision of calm by Christmas day, but I'm like a swan really, paddling like mad to keep everything afloat.

Don't expect anyone to appreciate that your aim is perfection, as they simply won't understand. You know you really need to make a specific trip out because you forgot FIL prefers sweet vinegar pickles rather than those things you thought you were being very clever buying back in October, but everyone else will say 'Don't worry about it'. DH doesn't get my planning and flapping, but would be the first to notice and comment on any shortfall so I carry on flapping and fussing in spite of him saying 'It will be fine, it's only one day'.

It isn't only one day. Christmas is a whole festive period for us. You need to be organised to make sure a whole period is happy and full of all the things you enjoy doing and eating.

Leave houseguests to their own devices as much as you can. Most people like the chance to switch off from real life over Christmas, so let them read when they want and don't bully encourage them to play Twister if they don't volunteer.

How do you approach Christmas? With a Zen-like calm and festive cheer? Or with an impending sense of doom and dread?

I'm pretty calm when it comes to Christmas actually. I love buying presents and save them all up to spend an afternoon wrapping with Christmas songs playing.

If you host Christmas, how do you stay organised and keep your home from turning into a tip? If you head elsewhere for Christmas, how do you make sure you take everything you need and don't forget essential pressies etc?

We go to my parents' for Christmas day and then my partner's parents' for boxing day (or vice versa, depending on which day we have DSS). They only live a very short way away from us so it isn't a problem to nip home if we forget anything!

jan2013 Thu 15-Nov-12 17:32:08

i get a little stressed about christmas if i haven't managed to get all the presents in. i make planning easier by writing lists of names, budget price per present, and the the present when ive ticked it off. then i remember what is for who when the time comes.

I usually go elsewhere for christmas and make a few dishes to bring with me - i can't handle the stress of leaving things to the last minute so these will be prepared a couple of days in advance, or at least the ingredients will all be chopped and ready. i will have decided what im going to make a couple of weeks beforehand.

i try not to worry if anything is forgotten!

HazeltheMcWitch Thu 15-Nov-12 17:55:29

I LOVE Christmas. I don't really stress about it too much, although I love the hustle and bustle. I just think that the world will not end, Christmas will not be ruined if I overcook the sprouts/forget the bread sauce/don't hoover. SO my top tip is have low standards perhaps?! Really though, don't sweat the small stuff; think back to what you enjoyed about Christmas as a child and it will be the 'magic', everyone gathering together etc etc, not an image of 'perfection'.

I really enjoy getting prepared, and can think of nothing nicer than spending a couple of hours here and there, cooking and freezing stuff that can be pulled out over Christmas and bunged in oven.

Also I have no qualms about asking guests do chip in, peel veg, pour wine, whatever.

gazzalw Thu 15-Nov-12 18:15:32

Do not leave everything until Christmas Eve....

Start planning in September so that you have enough time to get organised without getting into a panic and can budget too...

the last thing you need is to be panicked and be reckless with money because you have thrown caution to the wind.

Try not to go OTT with your preparations or with the level of expectation/anticipation within your family. If you keep things low-key the likelihood is that you will enjoy yourselves a lot more than if you try to make a mega memorable Christmas (which may end up being memorable for all the wrong reasons!).

Try to buy foodie items early and freeze or store away out of sight so that you don't have an enormous bill for food just before Christmas or find that you can't make your definitive Christmas Lunch because the shops have run out of sprouts, Christmas puds, crackers etc....

Try to do something a bit different every year just to ring the changes and ensure that Christmas is enjoyed and doesn't just feel "the same old, same old..."

And don't drink too much on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day otherwise your hangover might preclude you actually enjoying Christmas at all!

44SoStartingOver Thu 15-Nov-12 18:37:50

I'm sorry but I cant resist.

To save space, I will not have a big tree, but instead use a festive collection of twiggy lights - as sold by Clas Ohlsen.

I thangyou

Bumpstart Thu 15-Nov-12 19:20:03

My partner comes from a culture where Christmas involves a massive meal, with as many people as you can muster, and music and dancing til late at night.

No presents
No decorations

We try to have a bit of a mix here: a few decorations and presents for the kids, and a big meal with family and a few friends.

If you have a very young family, I recommend paring down the celebration to the elements you consider important. After all, table decorations and crackers are lost on a baby. Then your children will not expect a lot each year, and will not feel disappointed the year when you forget the orange and lemon slices.

Then you can add new bits and pieces in each year, and then the kids will enjoy the novelty factor of the new things each year.

beanandspud Thu 15-Nov-12 19:25:22

I used to be seriously stressed out over Christmas - everything had to be perfect, menu planning was done months in advance, presents were beautifully wrapped, entertainment was planned, I wanted to prove I could do it all myself and by Boxing Day I was wrecked.

My motto now is to accept any help that is offered. Everyone is welcome to stay as long as they know that they will at some point be asked to peel veg, put out the rubbish or pour the wine! It doesn't matter if the presents aren't coordinated, or if we eat turkey sandwiches and crisps on Boxing Day - much more important that we spend time together and everyone gets a break.

We make time for everyone to do their own thing at some point over the festive season whether it's reading, watching sport or going for a walk and life is much more relaxed.

Ragwort Thu 15-Nov-12 19:52:12

I focus on what is important - to me that is the Christian message of Christmas.

I don't go overboard with gifts, adults don't need to exchange present (small token gifts from grandchildren to grandparents). I don't feel any pressure to buy the latest iphone/laptop/whatever.

I enjoy cooking and shopping but don't make a hassle of it.

I also enjoy writing my christmas cards and start early and do a few each week so it is not a 'chore'.

We also don't get into a rut at Christmas - some years we go abroad on holiday, sometimes we go to relations, sometimes we host, sometimes we get involved in a church lunch for the homeless, this year we are totally alone, ie: a family of three. (Ironically I am pretending to anyone that asks that we have visitors so that no one feels sorry for us and feels obliged to invite us round grin).

Arcticwaffle Thu 15-Nov-12 20:03:01

I find Christmas very stressful to think of, all the shopping makes me feel anxious, the need to buy lots of stuff for people who alreadyhave mroe stuff than they need (my dc's toys and belongings are falling out of their bedrooms). The idea of having to see everyone in my family and DP's family is pretty grim too. But ways we have of destressing:

Don't invite the relatives. it's so much easier with just us (admittedly by that I mean 5 of us and 4 of my sister's family so that's already 9 people but no stress-inducing wider family.

Agree with the other adults just to buy presents for children. Saves on lots of time shopping, and money.

Buy a couple of things for yourself you really want instead of hoping other people will know this.

Keep the food a bit simple. Ask everyone what meals they really want to eat, and go with that (it can be surprising, I discovered my dc really really wanted supermarket apple strudel as their favourite pudding. That was very easy to arrange).

poorbuthappy Thu 15-Nov-12 20:04:18

1. Gin
2. Wine
3. Fizz
4. Gin

Sorted.

RollingThunder Thu 15-Nov-12 21:36:11

I stay really pretty calm about Christmas. This is achieved by;

Inviting NO relatives at all
Buying in all food frozen or pre-prepared, we don't so much cook as time things
Letting the kids spend all day opening presents if that's what they want
Alcohol

Hopezibah Thu 15-Nov-12 21:45:25

I try to enjoy christmas for the kids sake and try to make sure i make time to spend with them even if it means that the chores have to wait.

After all they are going to want good memories of happy times together with their family rather than stressy parents!

Other than that, I don't really have any top tips - I just try to do as much as possible online to avoids crowds and queues.

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