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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

MikeLitoris Argentina Sun 18-Nov-12 12:08:37

My best tip is to avoid hosting a big Christmas day and accept all offers to do it elsewhere.

Apart from that, i have stopped asking people what they want. I buy things i think they will like. It also keeps a bit of the Christmas surprisey feeeling.

I have started one of those saving things too. £400 in vouchers for £29 odd a month. A brilliant idea if you can afford it.

MikeLitoris Argentina Sun 18-Nov-12 12:10:29

My best tip is to avoid hosting a big Christmas day and accept all offers to do it elsewhere.

Apart from that, i have stopped asking people what they want. I buy things i think they will like. Now i dont feel guilty if i cant afford something that has been asked for. It also keeps a bit of the Christmas surprisey feeeling.

I have started one of those saving things too. £400 in vouchers for £29 odd a month. A brilliant idea if you can afford it.

notcitrus Sun 18-Nov-12 12:28:12

Don't try to do too much. There's no point in giving small children so many presents they cry when asked to open another, or expensive ones they won't appreciate the cost of, or fancy 3-course meals they won't like much.

Some pressies, wrapped as soon as bought. Some food, along the lines of a Sunday roast, parboiling and prepping as much as possible in advance. Snacks to keep excited children going. Bought pud. Have a microwave.

Most importantly, only invite people who are nice and ideally helpful. Last Christmas started with BIL tripping over my vomit-covered body at 6am. He and SIL cooked while MrNC herded 3 children under 4, so I could rest all morning. I emerged at midday when my parents arrived and told ILs to nap/shower while they finished food. We ate while everything was hot, let the kids run about and play, and then reheated food for PILs when they finally arrived.

Then the vital walk via the playground to wear the kids out! Then pud, recorded TV, and relax. One trip to a show, visit a few friends, but not much planned.

I love it. Especially as not having horrible pregnancy this year...

ChippyMinton Sun 18-Nov-12 16:47:42

Christmas and New Year go on for a couple of weeks, so there's plenty of time to fit in a variety of activities.

Once school is finished, there can be a bit of an anti-climax, so it's time to get the DC involved in a few preparations and not just nagging them to tidy up their bedrooms. Have a few things they can get on with like making a gingerbread house; making crackers - just trying out jokes can take up a couple of hours; making sweets or biscuits etc etc.

Visit Father Christmas as close to Xmas Eve as you can manage, to make it really special. Take grandparents along too smile

Plan an outdoor trip for Boxing Day - football or rugby match or country park or ice-skating.

LineRunner Sun 18-Nov-12 17:11:04

I've been ebaying things since the summer to take some of the angst out paying for everything.

And I'm buying the food from M&S this year, as prepared as possible, as a treat to me.

melliebobs Sun 18-Nov-12 20:44:39

i don't really plan, i just go with the flow. No schedule, no set times, just me dh and dd and just see where the day takes us. If people want to visit they can, they just need to be prepared for us to be in the middle of dinner! It's the best way

Asinine Sun 18-Nov-12 21:03:44

Don't ever ever read magazines about how to have a perfect Christmas, it messes with your head. Remember that it's meant to be a celebration, meaning you enjoy it, not worry about it.

Save a little all year, and buy thoughtful presents, rather than showy, expensive ones. I have a present list permanently on my iPad to note down any good ideas.

Think about the true spirit of Christmas, keep an eye out for people who may be struggling. If you're able, donate to your food bank or to Shelter, help the aged or any other charity which supports people who struggle especially at Christmas.

Blu Mon 19-Nov-12 11:10:07

1. You can never have too much ice. Make sure you have loads of ice in the freezer - and make it law that once the ice tray is 3/4 empty it gets topped up again. Use those ice cube freezing bags, too.
2. Do a battery audit of batteries needed for kids toys and then buy twice as many, in a full range of sizes. The 99p store has big economy packs. Go large.
3. Don't be uptight. Traditions and 'the way we do it' are great but it's also fun to relax and take it as it comes - which is how new traditions develop anyway. Can't possibly go to ILs because they have presents AFTER breakfast? Come on, people!
4. Turn your fucking mobile off. When gathered in the lounge, having dinner,m opening presents, etc etc. As a guest it is dead rude to spend the whole time at someone's house checking Tweets.

RichardSimmonsTankTop Mon 19-Nov-12 12:23:33

I stay calm at Christmas because we usually go to the IL's and they take care of everything. It's nice.

My tips:

- wear loose fitting trousers
- don't drink so much that you get aggressive and loud during charades/boardgames
- don't diss the Queen's speech if there are monarchists in the house.

I'm generally pretty organised with regards to buying presents for my side of the family and for our godson etc. and will probably have most of my shopping done by early December. Most of it I buy online.

DH's family change the rules every year. Some years each couple buys for every other couple, sometimes it's a secret Santa and you buy for only one couple. Sometimes there's a set budget. Sometimes there's not. Last year BIL announced very close to Christmas that they weren't buying gifts, but giving money to charity instead & hoped we'd all do the same. Unfortunately the rules generally don't get decided until mid-December at the earliest, so there's no point trying to be organised or to pick up a bargain early on.

We've mostly had Christmas with either my or DH's family, so I haven't had to figure out how to organise an entire Christmas dinner yet. I make a Christmas cake in October or November and then don't remember to ice it until Christmas eve.

My top tips:
Don't leave it all until the last minute. Start looking for suitable gifts a few months in advance.
Keep tags with presents or make a thank you list as you go.
Have a bag ready for all the rubbish/recycling as you go.
Don't buy too much food.

BrewEmoticon Mon 19-Nov-12 13:25:47

I'm organised and do everything well in advance. I also work very hard, in advance, to ensure I can enjoy the day too.

I agree with PP who said don't buy too much food, it's only one day (well, the main day is!) and it's not neccesary to provide and prepare absolutely all the options.

yummymummytobe1 Mon 19-Nov-12 13:32:15

Plan plan and plan some more:

Christmas planning begins in September this end with the first to buy list and for whom.
Middle of September we begin with the home baking such as Christmas Cakes and puddings as well as Jams and Chutneys.
End of September we decide on the colour scheme for the house and also who we are having to stay and when. Also who are visiting. The main bulk of presents to be purchased for stockings.

Beginning of November list of food needed for the festive period and any home baked/made Christmas gifts made. Order all the meat, wine etc. Buy nre bedding,towels and dressing gowns for the guest rooms
Middle of November New what to buy and whom list revisited and wrap gifts already bought
End of November buy Christmas decorations and paper to fit the colour scheme and double check who is going to be around over christmas. Wrire Chrsitmas cards
End of November ensure all gifts are bought and wrapped. Presents and cards sent with the courier.

Beginning of December mince pies and yule logs made, the tree goes up.
Middle of December have the neighbors over for a christmas drinks party do half of the over night stays with friends.
End of December have meat and wine etc delivered.
Christmas week. Ensure all food and drink are in and have a second get together with the neighbors for a meal and drinks.

Then breathe.

yummymummytobe1 Mon 19-Nov-12 13:35:05

Also at the beginning of November there is a trip to the spa and hair dressers and new outfits bought for all the family.

MummyAbroad Mon 19-Nov-12 14:57:14

My kids are 4 and 1 so I have had a few disasters dry runs - but I think I am getting better at Christmas now smile

Last year I invested in some clear plastic boxes with lids to keep the Christmas decorations in. Its meant that lots more survived the year and I can find everything easily. I only ever buy new decorations in the same colour scheme, which means I spend much less by just adding to the collection rather than starting afresh every year. The plastic boxes are also great for storing all DS's hand made Christmas decorations. I have started writing his name and a date on them and hopefully we will keep them and use them for many years to come.

Leeeseee Mon 19-Nov-12 15:21:34

First of all I save up all year with a standing order each month for £30 to go into a Christmas fund to help buy the presents and take the pressure off my purse a bit. Then I start to buy gifts from the beginning of November and store them away in a cupboard to wrap in good time. Once I have bought all the gifts I do not look in the shops any more to avoid seeing something else to buy. I use a credit card that offers vouchers to spend in food stores so I save up all the vouchers and use them to buy my Christmas meal. I buy everything prepared ready to go in the oven so I don't have to slave in the kitchen all day. It does cost a bit more but then I also get to enjoy the day too and after all that is what I have saved all year for. Christmas lunch is usually just our household (nice and quiet) and then after lunch we will visit relatives or they will come to us. Merry Christmas!

Katryn Mon 19-Nov-12 16:10:41

My top tip is to plan ahead. Find out what presents the children want by September and then shop on line. I have already shopped for the children's stockings, and have bought two main presents for my daughter. I loathe that last minute shopping when everything has run out. We are going to my sister-in-laws and I know what I have to bring -cheese and Christmas crackers. I'm lucky because my husband's coffee table photographic interiors book, The Irish at Home, came out a month ago, so lot's of people will be getting it!

Katryn Mon 19-Nov-12 16:12:21

My top tip is to plan ahead. Find out what presents the children want by September and then shop on line. I have already shopped for the children's stockings, and have bought two main presents for my daughter. I loathe that last minute shopping when everything has run out. We are going to my sister-in-laws and I know what I have to bring -cheese and Christmas crackers. I'm lucky because my husband's coffee table photographic interiors book, The Irish at Home, came out a month ago, so lot's of people will be getting it!

Mimulet Mon 19-Nov-12 16:35:22

I think its best to start preparations with lists in September. I like to spread the cost and this is the reason for starting early. I want everyone to have a good time, but the trick is to buy everything before December 1 if possible. then make lists of cleaning chores. If you don't have to worry about shopping, you only have the house to clean. Lastly, please don't think that everything has to be perfect. People and situations are not so why should Christmas? If you leave stress to other people, delegate chores on Christmas and Boxing day, you will have a wonderful time! Happy Christmas everyone.
PS not too much booze! hehe.

trockodile Mon 19-Nov-12 16:51:22

Honestly, it is now about managing expectations and not worrying about trying to keep everyone happy! Keep things simple and focus on spending time as a family-games that you play together, films to watch together, head out for walks, going to Christingle service. Let children know ahead of time that they only get a few things on their list and let them help with wrapping, cooking, choosing menu etc.

wonderstuff Mon 19-Nov-12 19:55:08

I hope CMOT gets the voucher too.

Well I'm doing it all wrong because I buy all the magazines and I embroidered the dcs names on their stockings!

I write lists of people to buy for and what I have bought, most shopping done online - I buy lots of books!

On the day we host - dh cooks and I entertain and drink. Lovely.

wonderstuff Mon 19-Nov-12 19:55:48

* 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

LittleBallOfFur Mon 19-Nov-12 20:38:26

Keep it simple, don't expect it to be perfect, don't try and squeeze too much in.

We've learnt from previous years and now - stay at home Christmas day (following the year we visited 3 sets of parents in one day with 8wo DS), spread out other family visits e.g. one per day with days inbetween to recover, enjoy lovely christmas foods throughout December (little and often obvs wink) so you're not trying to stuff yourself silly with all the nice things over a couple of days.

This year we're also making a conscious effort to NOT spend loads on gifts - we'll be buying small but thoughtful things, making things where possible and even agreeing with some to forgo presents (e.g. DB and SIL - we'll just buy for each other's children). I think Christmas these days has become too much about consumerism and less about just enjoying time with family and appreciating each other, and having a bit of a rest (!) - trying to get that back this year.

missorinoco Mon 19-Nov-12 20:40:31

I host Xmas. I plan in advance, and start buying early to spread the cost.

I meal plan whilst I had relatives pretty much down to snacks, so I don't have to worry I have enough food in.

I try to encourage everyone to help themselves to drinks etc so I'm not running around after adults as well as children.

I agree with the comment about managing expectations, and would include my own also. I can cook a good roast, but am aware if I micromanage the meal and stress over miniscule details the pleasure of the day will be lost for all in my stress. This is largely as my children are small and it is likely we will all end the meal having had no idea what we ate with all the excitement going on.

leslie787 Mon 19-Nov-12 21:09:33

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

I go to my parent's every year - my father is a retired chef, and does a perfect roast every time - so there's one stress out of the way!

However as guest I think there's lots you can do to help reduce the stress of others (and not feel like a beached whale by the end of Christmas)

Always offer to help - several times at different stages - some people may say No but mean Yes (or be too frazzled to think of something for you to do even though it would be helpful). Also, if help is refused in one area (e.g. kitchen), lay the table/talk to a visitor/bring a child to the loo/put the wrapping paper in the recycling bin. Dsis and I force DM to sit at the table after the meal while we clear it and fill the dishwasher and switch it on (she would restack it if we didn't get it going so we ply her with wine to keep her in situ!)

Go out for a walk with little ones at some stage - EVERYONE will thank you for it. Go as dusk is falling and play Count the Christmas Trees.

After the initial present opening orgy, hide most of the kid's pressies (we keep a big gift bag for each one specifically for this). They will then get some play value out of the toys still in view, and will forget the other toys making for a nice surprise in a day or two. Also bury their chocolate at the bottom of their bag - there will be enough other sugar around to keep them hyper for a week.

Re the travelling, I pack the car the night before, and we put out our Christmas outfits the night before also. I ensure that there are logs, matches and firelighters for my fire for when we return to the house - no matter how nice Christmas has been, and how warm the central heating is once you're home, there's nothing like collapsing on your own sofa with the fire blazing.

CMOT hope you get the voucher x

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