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NOW CLOSED: The countdown to Christmas has started - share your best Christmas preparation advice with Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger! There's £100 cash up for grabs

(153 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 07-Nov-12 10:59:41

To celebrate the forthcoming release of the sequel to Nativity - Nativity 2 Danger in the Manger (released November 23 - staring David Tennant and Joanna Page - check out the trailer here) the film makers want to know hear all about your preparations in the run up to Christmas.

So, do you have any top tips for making Christmas run smoothly?

~ Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?
~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?
~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? wink)
~ Whatever your Christmas preparations involve, we want to hear about it.

Also, throughout November Nativity 2 have a fab advent calendar on their Mumsnet pages, where each day you can uncover a great piece of Christmas planning advice, take part in a Christmas quiz or win a prize.
Take a look at what's behind today's date here:

Everyone who adds their comments to this thread will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will receive £100 cash in time for Christmas!

Thanks and good luck,


DioneTheDiabolist Wed 07-Nov-12 11:10:45

My top Christmas Tip is:
Open all the presents carefully. Remove the plastic tags, insert batteries/put toy together (if needed) and check that it works. Then put it back into the packaging and wrap. This saves hours of faffing about and annoyance on Christmas morning when I have better things to do than struggling with white plastic tags.angry

I also have spare stockings so I can fill one in advance and then swop it for the empty one.

My Christmas Eve is so relaxed now. Put DS to bed, eat my Christmas Eve feast, drink sherry and then just put all the pressies under the tree and swop the stocking before I go to bed.

gazzalw Wed 07-Nov-12 11:12:11

Ashamed to say that I leave it just about all up to DW and she is ace at forward-planning, although this year she rather took her eye off the ball and is very much regretting it!

She does have a Christmas shopping list for food/drink and associated Chritmassy stuff. She tends to start early with stockpiling the nice, non-essential foodie things as it's quite often the case that if you leave until the last minute shops have run out or put the prices up no-end! Also, when she's mooching around different supermarkets and shops she just looks out for special stuff which is a bit different from our 11-months-of-the-year-fare....

Focus early on the stuff that you know you'll need (stamps, wrapping paper, cards, sellotape and all the food/drink bits which can be stored) and only set forth present shopping when you've got a half-decent wish list to follow. Absolutely no point (or worth the expense) floating aimlessly around the shops when they're heavingly busy. If you do need to do 'browsing' pressie shopping,try to do it in November before the crowds get unbearable - you are less likely to make rash and expensive choices/mistakes which you then regret.

Or my top tip...delay Christmas until New Year by which time you will have had the opportunity to benefit from the Sales and can appear much more generous with your pressies ;-).

Also, if you are prepared to be flexible and have the nerve, it really is worth while hanging around the supermarkets on Christmas Eve just before closing time for some super-duper foodie bargains. I wouldn't however advocate doing it unless you have 'reserves' in the freezer though....

Bah humbug (only joking!)

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 07-Nov-12 11:19:27

Oops, I forgot to say, sort the toys out a week in advance, not crimbo eve.blush.

It's even better if you do it with friends and wine.grin

I pick up presents throughout the year, and save up my Amazon vouchers, so by November I'm pretty much done buying presents.
Christmas dinner is just a roast with kilted sausages, I pop to my local butchers a few days before Christmas to get supplies, comes to about £10 including a small chicken, to see us through to about the 28th.
Stockings have useful stuff I would have bought anyway, such as toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, pants, woolly socks, slippers etc. as well as a bag of marshmallows and a carton of drink to keep them quiet until at least 7am.
Pyjamas "appear" on DCs pillows while they're at the Christmas Eve christingle service, so they look presentable for morning photos.
I keep Amazon vouchers back for emergency presents and new year birthdays, as Amazon's sales start on Christmas Day.

I always get Xmas wrapping and tags in the jan sales, and pack it away with the decs. Also Xmas themed PJs and socks super cheap, a size bigger for nx Xmas too.

I start buying bits and bobs in Aug sales, and never have list so DD and my little DSis end up with mountains of things!! I'm trying not to do that this year..

We save up our nectar points for our Xmas shop, and always have a Xmas eve spicy ham and jackets before church. It's nice to have something other than the turkey lefts overs on boxing day!!

And we've made a pledge to keep video records of DDs xmas's

glitch Wed 07-Nov-12 17:25:35

I start shopping in November but leave the wrapping until closer to Christmas. I have lists about lists and then more lists.
Food wise, I usually have a delivery for the dull stuff and then go shopping myself too.

aJumpedUpPantryBoy Wed 07-Nov-12 18:00:30

I have a spreadsheet where I keep a list of possible gifts for friends and family. That way if someone mentions something they want/like early in the year I can make a note of it as a possible gift.

I buy stuff throughout the year (referring to the spreadsheet blush)

I love wrapping presents. In December my craft room becomes a wrapping room and I wrap and label everything during the first week. This means that any stuff that has to be delivered/posted can be done with time to spare

I order my food online, (apart from the meat which I get at the buthers) but don't have my delivery on Christmas Eve, that way if there is some kind of delivery disaster or something is missing I can pop out and get it.

Doogle2 Wed 07-Nov-12 18:02:18

I do as much food prep as possible on Christmas Eve. I invite my mum over and we have a glass of wine whilst chopping and peeling. This means less time in the kitchen on the actual day and has turned into a nice tradition for us (also makes me feel less guilty as its my husband who does the cooking on the day so I feel I've helped!)

pushitreallgood Wed 07-Nov-12 18:04:06

i start shopping for christmas really early say in august to stagger the costs. i also order the meat from my local butchers and go and pick it up early christmas eve so i dont have to worry about any where running out or defrosting etc. i like to shop for the other food stuff myself so i can pick out what i am getting. i wrap the pressies as i go so as not to be left with a massive job the night before. and always try to have a few back ups as i always seem to forget some ones child. i always have a list of people i need to get for and cross them ff as and when they have been got for.

Hotchillipepper Wed 07-Nov-12 21:20:53

I write everyones names down i have to buy for, and plan what to get, so i dont go over budget. I start buying pressies in September to stagger the cost, then I look in as many shops/ websites possible to look for bargains. We have family abroad so we have to buy early, we have to be prepared. Everything's wrapped in December with music playing so we feel all Christmassy. Luckily I have not had to do Christmas dinner yet smile

lorisparkle Wed 07-Nov-12 22:15:20

Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?

Since having children I am now much more a planner and a buyer of a few things at a time from when the bits come into the shops

~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?

Have a list and this year have bought all major presents already - ordered online and then checked. My family have a traditional shopping trip where we take my Dad to buy my mums presents.

~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? )

Little and often is how I organise it.

My top tip; buy for everyone you buy for in the same house at the same time. Then wrap it and gift bag it/jiffy bag it for posting. Eg if you buy for granny, do granddad at the same time, wrap them etc. This saves buying little top up presents for granny when you buy for granddad later.
Buy ready filled stockings - really nice on xmas morning to be surprised by what santa left.

prakattack Thu 08-Nov-12 09:13:46

I'm a forward planner, always have been and always will be! I write a list early and pick up bargains whenever I see them.
We've just decided that we're staying at home for Christmas this year though, for the first time ever! So now I have to write a whole new list for the food/ drink - not sure where to start!

CMOTDibbler Thu 08-Nov-12 09:21:04

My top tip is not to get stressed by Christmas. I feel no pressure to produce perfect homemade mincepies etc, especially for school events, have no compunction in telling people that if they do an Amazon wishlist it is strongly in their favour, and don't give a toss about colour co-ordination.

I refuse to do any shopping before December, and we do the food shopping a couple of days before - though I do order a veg box from the farm shop and sometimes meat. No lists grin

TheTempest Thu 08-Nov-12 09:37:17

I don't have any top tips, I just tend to wing it and it seems to come together in the end! I try and get all the presents sorted by December so I'm not panicking, and everyone who comes for christmas at mine pitches in. I'm very lucky really.

Every year I tell myself it's going to be magazine perfect, and then realise I don't have the time or energy for that!

jes73 Thu 08-Nov-12 09:46:24

I beat the queues and the crowds and shop online. Its absolutely worth it as there is more choice online and if you are buying clothes you can be sure that there will be no disappointment with the sizes. Also most stores offer a free store collection so all you need to do is go pick them up.
I start shopping in December and for older nieces and nephews, I get gift cards so they can pick up what they like.
I love Christmas and family and getting together...

skyebluesapphire Thu 08-Nov-12 09:49:58

I always buy wrapping paper in the Jan sales and put it away for the following year.

I buy bits and bobs cheap when I see them and then can make a present by putting several things together.

I also sort out toys by removing all tags and putting batteries etc in then put them back in the box, so that DD can just open the box and take it out.

ArtexMonkey Thu 08-Nov-12 10:00:16

What CMOT said. It's Christmas, not the Normandy landings. It should be fun.

~ Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?
Forward planning AND staggering the costs are the only way that I can have a fun and debt free xmas.

~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?
Quite often I'll find what I want to buy online and then go into stores and buy it, so I have a clear idea of what I'm looking for. I start stocking up on bits and pieces early in the year and put them on top of my wardrobe. By the end of the year there's quite a haul and no massive expenditures!
That said, I do still get into a panic and end up in M&S on xmas eve!

~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? wink)
Food shopping we usually do a few days before xmas to get decent sell by dates. I'm a terrible cook so rely on M&S a lot for many bits and pieces. My xmas food shop top tips are to layer your clothing because it's going to get hot and sweaty and you'll want to cast off everything you're wearing!!
Also, never take a trolley- You'll end up jammed. Give every family member a basket and send them to opposite ends of the store with a list of things to get.

~ Whatever your Christmas preparations involve, we want to hear about it.
The rest of Xmas is all quite relaxed for me, I like giving the house a good clean before I put the decorations up, get the Xmas dvds going as of Dec 1st and every year I do a 'Xmas Craft' thing. Last year I embroidered a stocking for DD, this year I am going technical and I am using a laser cutter to make some personalised acrylic decorations for my family. (Local Maklab- you should definitely check this out!)
Then, it's all plain sailing. To GP's for xmas dinner, everyone over to our house on boxing day for quizzes, silly games and nibbles and then taking at least a few days off of work to hibernate!

I stagger the preps by picking up gifts throughout the year in sales where possible and by using the daily deals sites. I don't have a list which means I can overbuy for one person and omit another so should get more organised.

Food shopping I'll do an online shop in the days preceding. My DH is a butcher so we don't need to worry about ordering in turkeys etc!

On the big day itslef, no one gets waited on and everyone has to muck in

I don't really like Christmas much (Bah Humbug!) I find it very stressful. My side of the family is really small but DH seems to know or be related to everyone in the world. Christmas was lovely until I became a 'responsible' adult. and married someone from such a huge sociable family

However I have found that not over-planning works best. Go with the flow, Get presents when you see them, don't wait and go back or leave it till too near Christmas. Although saying that Amazon were brilliant last year and we were ordering stuff in the week before Christmas and it all came in time.

My biggest mistake used to be trying to get everything perfect for just one day. A few years ago I would bath the dogs, make mince pies (which no one would eat) clean the entire house from top to bottom, make nativity costumes, decorate the house, write all the cards etc etc and it made Christmas really stressful as I was trying to make that one day so perfect. Now I just do the essential stuff the dogs stay smelly and the house stays dusty

We have shopping lists, DH's parents are quite tricky to buy for. I usually get Christmas cards in the January sales
We do most of our shopping online, including the food shop. Last year we used nectar points and our £300 shop shock came to about £5 grin.
Like aJumpedUpPantryBoy I have it delivered a few days before so I can still get emergency bits, we do buy our veg at the last minute so it is fresh.

I have told DH I am staying at home this year. We usually go to his parents for a few days. The fall out hasn't happened yet, but I'm sure its imminent!

BellaVida Thu 08-Nov-12 11:20:41

We split our time between family here and overseas, so priority is always getting flights booked.
Apart from that, it just feels wrong to do any Xmas shopping at least until the Xmas lights go on! If I don't feel 'in the spirit' it just won't happen.
When it comes to present shopping, I always focus on the children first, to make sure I can get their main gift and rely on a list to track everyone and what I have bought. That way, when I come to wrapping, ( having hidden stuff in odd places all over the house), I know if anything is missing!
Putting up the decorations and tree will happen the first weekend in December. Just us and the kids, plenty of tea and cake and we can drag it out for the best part of a Sunday.
Food shopping is another matter. Usually it is done a couple of days before, with a list for main items, then we just enjoy throwing in things we would never buy at any other time of year. On Xmas day, anything goes, including chocolates for breakfast!
As long as we are with the kids, I could honestly do Xmas anywhere.

TaggieCampbellBlack Thu 08-Nov-12 11:22:19

My top christmas tip.

Get a little bit drunk. And then keep topping up throughout the season. Not pissed, or puking, just a little bit fuzzy. It's a fine balance but I have managed to perfect it.
It's the only way to cope.

My tip is: go to harrods at 15 mins to closing time on Xmas eve and you can get all kinds of fancy food really reduced. We had a weird lobster starter and a fancy pasty type thing last year. Probably works for wait rose and m and s too smile

I'm a list person. My other top tip (prepare to be hated for this) is don't expect anyone else to help. If they do, it's a bonus. I start making lists about August, and then begin buying in September. Present buying is my least favourite part of Christmas. Due to family set up, we also need to plan which relatives to visit and when, with army-like precision.

DH prefers the "running around in a panic on Christmas Eve" type planning, which, when you have as many grandchildren as he has, means you end up spending a stupid amount of money on presents, and with a stress-induced migraine.

We usually meet somewhere in the middle.

I think people stress and worry and get themselves into debt for Christmas when it's only really one day, it doesn't matter if children don't get everything thing on their lists and Christmas dinner is only a glorified roast.

We'll buy our 4 dd's Christmas presents in the next week, we buy them first so if all else fails they'll have gifts to open. Then in the next few weeks we'll buy token presents for our parents, my dsis (only as she has no dc's) and my grandparents.

Our Christmas food shop will probably be done the week before, we'll go to our usual range of supermarkets, we'll be taking food to my dads for Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.

magnolia74 Thu 08-Nov-12 11:47:56

My best tips are:

Never leave shopping or wrapping until Xmas eve.

Don't make the mistake of thinking you don't have enough presents for the kids and buy more..... They will not realise that you bought extra!

Have everything done before Xmas eve and then if possible plan something special on that day to really get in the Christmassy mood.

If money is tight dont buy for all family adults just have a secret Santa instead.

BrewEmoticon Thu 08-Nov-12 11:56:14

My tip is to be very prepared, plans are a must. Most present shopping can be done online, in November, leaving only a few presents for a christmassy shopping trip (or two) in December when you'll hopefully be able to enjoy the expereince.

But my biggest, and main tip is to make sure you are very very very rich, so you can afford to buy anything you like without worrying about the cost. You'll also be able to buy in help, gift-wrapping services, house-decorating, catering to ensure you only have to do the bits you actually enjoy.

asuwere Thu 08-Nov-12 12:03:38

Totally agree about it being just 1 day. No need to stress about it and it doesn't need special planning.
I try to keep things simple. My kids don't like sitting down to a big meal so simple normal meal or buffet stuff put out if we have people coming over. No special food bought, just the usual shopping (ordered online to save the torture that is supermarket this time of year!)
I buy presents if I see something on sale during the year. I don't worry too much if it's something that the kids have asked for as they change their mind so often - what they want in September may not be what they want in December! So long as I think it's something useful/fun/practical then it's fine. I never buy too much either - once they get past a couple of presents, it's just too much and they don't appreciate any of it.

As we both work FT & I rarely get to the shops, internet shopping is a MUST! I'm nearly done already thankfully. I am a planner. This is countered by DP who will rush around in a last minute frenzy the day before Xmas Eve - I've not been able to change HIS Xmas habits, bar getting him to do his panic buying the day before Xmas Eve, rather than Xmas Eve itself (which he used to do).

I buy special paper to use for the presents "from Santa" - this must be well hidden from DC so we don't get discovered.

I tend to wrap gifts Xmas Eve with wine - love it.

I have made DD a gorgeous stocking in the same style as my GM made for me. I have to make DD2's one before Xmas so still a little pressure. However as we have DD1 & DP's birthdays end of November, I don't start proper Xmas planning/details until birthdays are out of the way.

We go to MIL's for Xmas day & I don't have to do anything though I always make a nice pudding & take wine obviously. I love drinking brandy & rum with all the BIL's.

I use last years received Xmas cards as labels/tags for this years presents.

asuwere Thu 08-Nov-12 12:05:14

Oh, forgot, my kids like to do christmas cards for their friends at school - I start them writing them at least a week before they take them in as they get bored writing them so doing a couple a day over a week is better than them having to do a whole pile of them at once!

Cezzy Thu 08-Nov-12 12:22:35

Go abroad and let someone else do it all, but failing that, I prepare stuffing, bread sauce, cranberry sauce etc to a stage where it can be frozen. All the final bits of cooking and veg prep are done Xmas eve with carols on the radio while DH takes the children out to deliver pressies to friends and relatives we don't see on Xmas day. Shopping is done online, delivered day before Xmas eve as before I have had items not available and had a last minute dash. We get the table and dining room ready the day before and tell everyone Xmas dinner is earlier than it really is as they all arrive late and then talk for half and hour. We have stockings and the kids pile into our bed to open them and the others wait until guests arrive in the afternoon, it gives them something to look forward to.

mummmsy Thu 08-Nov-12 12:43:21

top tip, decamp to each set of grandparents on xmas eve, day and boxing day, lubricate with wine and it's all good grin

shop online, well in advance - do not go near the shops in december, other than to soak up the christmas spirit!

YoYoYoMrWhite Thu 08-Nov-12 12:52:27

My tip is don't stress sit back and enjoy it, at the end of the day nobody really remembers all the gifts they got as a child they just remember if they had good happy times or rubbish miserable ones.
If you do magic things like making reindeer food or put a Santa footprint in their doorway they will love it rather than having stressed parents who spend all day Xmas worrying about how they are going to eat during January ;).

JustFabulous Thu 08-Nov-12 12:56:03

I save money each week into a separate account so that whenever I buy a Christmas present I have the money there instead of having to spread the cost and start shopping in July. What the children like in October isn't necessarily what they want in December never mind going from July to Christmas.

I have bought small coloured stickers so that I can discretely label the presents from Santa for the stocking without having to remember whose is whosen when it comes to filling the stocking.

I have lists for cards that can go whenever by second class and those that must be first.

I have a list for which presents have to be postable as that influences what I buy.

I have a list for what we are eating over the 3 days with use by dates so nothing is forgotten.

General to do lists too - pet food and hay, etc that needs buying.

We often get snowed in so that needs thinking about as we might be stuck in for a week.

I make a list of who we received cards off so that the following year we don't miss anyone out. Also helps with uncommon spelling of names.

nextphase Thu 08-Nov-12 13:00:29

My Top Tips
*make sure gifts are labeled when friends handing them over. There is nothing worse than your 3 year old opening a present meant for his little broter, and then tantruming when the 12-18 month thomas PJ's don't fit him, and are given to the intended recipient.
*stock up on battries - you'll use them!
* take as many of those cable ties and bits of string off the toys as you can find before wrapping them up. Allows the kids to actually get the present out of its packaging!
*have low expectations, then hopefully they will be exceeded. If your are expecting disney magic, the chances are it will be spoilt. If your expecting a decent time with family and friends, a glass of wine and hopefully one or 2 presents which won't need to go to the charity shop with the rest, hopefully your dreams will be exceeded.

MegBusset Thu 08-Nov-12 13:02:02

I have had an app this year to keep track of present-buying, it's been great for remembering what I've got and keeping within budget.

I have got pretty much everything now - most of it bought online (and a fair few bits with Tesco vouchers) to get the best prices. I have no intention of going anywhere near the shops in December smile

As for food shopping, it's a bit tricky this year as the schools break up so late and we have stuff on both days of the weekend before Xmas. I'll try to fit in an online delivery some time that weekend though will start stocking up on some nonperishables now and try not to eat them before Christmas

MrClaypole Thu 08-Nov-12 13:03:36

My tips:

Do all shopping online with large glass of wine in hand. So much nicer then dragging yourself round the heaving shops!

Have a few spare presents wrapped and hidden incase someone turns up with a gift and you haven't bought them anything.

Write Xmas cards well in advance so you don't have to manage Xmas shopping and card writing at the same time. Send cards 2nd class to save ££.

Start some family traditions of your own for the kids. Mine have e.g. personalised santa sacks that get hung up every year, a new DVD and PJs for Xmas eve and the kids service at Westminster Abbey and a panto the week before Xmas.

Consider arranging with family to just to kids presents or stick to an agreed budget (eg £10pp) to avoid costs spiralling out of control.

People seem to love homemade stuff so consider making things like sloe gin, jams, truffles, biscuits etc and putting them in pretty containers. The kids can help make and decorate stuff (although mine need to be kept away from the sloe gin!)

iwantavuvezela Thu 08-Nov-12 13:27:19

Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?

For me it is to stagger it - and when I am on Amazon I put things that I might be interested in under my "wish list" so that I am reminded of them. I make a list (Il ove making lists, so this gives me a good opportunity) - I write ideas down next to names, and buy when I can. I split the costs over 3 months, so buy for all my overseas family in October as I have a mother in law who takes it "home" for me. I then buy the rest - we are a small family and celebrate with friends, so I am aware of who I need to buy for. I will look out for some extra gifts to be handed out to teachers at school and extra curricular stuff as well -
I have already ordered all my christmas cards from Amnesty, as I use this as an opportunity to write to people who live in other countries. I start doing this in November .... I have ordered some giftwrap as well as some decoratins that can be made from the Amensty website.

Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?

I like to go to the high street, but probably do most of my shopping online. The high street is more for fun, and to pick up things that I might not have seen. There are some things i usually need to get, but if it is big or heavy I would order it online. I like the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street!

What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? )

We pre-order our ducks from our local butcher, and do the rest of the shopping a day or so before Christmas. We have a small fridge, and like to get fresh stuff as near to the date as possible,. I look out for food markets happening in the area to buy nice things like cheese and other yummy foods. Although I do online shopping, I like to see the food at christmas time, and browse around.
My top tips would be to speak to your local butcher - visit local markets and small independent deli's and support them where possible. You also get great advice this way, and a chance to speak to someone about what you are making and any tips around this ...

BlueAndTwistedTouchPaper Thu 08-Nov-12 13:33:32

I try and buy little bits throughout the year to spread the cost.

Online shopping is your friend! Easy to compare prices and pick up a bargain.

Also Aldi do a knock off Baileys for about 4 quid - which is cheaper than making your own.

ShatnersBassoon Thu 08-Nov-12 14:08:27

My top tip is to not dither. If you see something you want, buy it. I have gone away to think about something only to go back for it and find it sold out far too many times, and it seems far worse at Christmas when there's a deadline.

Most definitely need to plan and prepare and do it throughout the year. You can't beat a good list!
I keep an eye out for special offers from Snapfish to get personalised calendars, cards etc for grandparents, we often use loyalty points for gifts that I pick up throughout the year, I buy things on eBay with the money I get from selling other stuff on there and for gifts that I know will be money, rather than a parcel, I put the money aside as early as I can.
I email out Christmas cards with photos of DS on, rather than having to spend hours writing and posting them.
I do agree about taking all the plastic ties out of toys before you wrap them. I would like to take some giant plastic ties and wrap up the buggers who invented them, see how quick they can get out of the bastard things.......
For Christmas food, when we get together with the family, we all try to share the preparations and each bring a thing to whichever house we go to.

Aim for good, you can never do perfect, just enjoy the day!

Badvoc Thu 08-Nov-12 14:27:54

Plan ahead.
Shop online. Use vouchers and sites like quid co and top cashback.
I have had some great deals this year.
Book Xmas shopping slot early. I have an Xmas eve del this year. Anything else I need/have forgotten will get from the local co op.
All gifts bought and wrapped by mid November. I can't believe people really leave it till Xmas eve to do this. I would hate that. Xmas eve is for snuggling up on the sofa with a drink and xmas film, not wrestling with wrap and Sellotape!
Write cards if sending in nov and send 2nd class first weekend of dec.
Then you don't have to worry about overseas deadlines for postage as they are all done.
After the children break up from school make sure you have some foodie and crafty things to do with them...Xmas decs, Xmas treats. Doesn't have to cost much either.
If making an Xmas cake have it done ready for icing by end oct and stored in an airtight container.
Have a box with emergency gifts in! Bottles of nice wine, box of biscuits, chocolates for children etc for the inevitable person that gets you a gift who you have forgotten/surprise visitor.
Buy a stock of:
Batteries - various sizes
Indigestion tablets
If you have bought gifts that take hours to put together, do that on Xmas eve too. Put batteries in.
Lay table for breakfast on Xmas eve before bed.
One less job on Xmas morning.
And then...enjoy! smile

Badvoc Thu 08-Nov-12 14:29:11

Oh, and aldi do great festive food like pannetone, stollen and lebcuken.
Also nice liqueurs.
And chocolate smile

BoerWarKids Thu 08-Nov-12 14:38:11

Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?

Both, I think. I buy presents throughout the year to stagger the cost (don't have a credit card or overdraft, so can't do it in one hit!)
I buy cards and wrapping paper in Jan sales.
I use pinking shears to cut up last year's christmas cards to make gift tags - learnt from my mother grin
Food wise, I stock up beforehand on dry goods and make sure I've got pints of milk in the freezer.

Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?

As above really, buy throughout the year. Have my shopping list saved on my phone year-round, so I can check off when I've bought things. <smug, organised face>

What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet?)

Shop throughout the year! Buy cards/wrapping paper/decorations/xmas paraphernalia in January sales.
Food shopping - I start buying dried/tinned/frozen in advance. Fresh stuff I shop on 23rd or Christmas Eve, it's not always as crowded as people make out and lots of bargains to be had.
I have bought a massively reduced turkey late afternoon on Christmas Eve, but it's a bit of a gamble!

ouryve Thu 08-Nov-12 14:48:47

In the end, it's just a day. I do try to buy pressies early, online, just to avoid all the last minute crush, but I do like to go out myself and buy fresh food at the last minute (because frozen sprouts are vile grey snotlike things. Actually, snot tastes better).

I refuse to do anything more than is actually enjoyable, though. It's not worth it.

supergreenuk Thu 08-Nov-12 16:09:52

~ Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?


~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)?
Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?

I totally panic if I havent got everything yesterday. I definately have a list. More than one though. Gifts, food, to do etc

~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? )

Buy early to spread the cost and keep an eye out for bargains. I'm the same with food shopping. I will probably buy Christmas pudding this weekend as morrisons have a bogof.

CheeryCherry Thu 08-Nov-12 17:02:12

I plan in advance every year, I love the build up and putting thought into presents instead of panic buying. So if I see the ideal gift in summer I will buy it and stash it in a case on too of my wardrobe (shhh don't tell anyone).
I have a Christmas book which I use each year, I list who I send cards to and what I buy everyone, so I don't send chocs/candles etc for several years running.
The Christmas food shop is the only one I enjoy all year and though I mainly shop online these days, I prefer to hand pick my sprouts!
Top tip....sit back and try to enjoy the family, they're only young once.

BetsyBlingtastic Thu 08-Nov-12 17:15:47

I book up a Sainsburys delivery slot 3 weeks before although I forgot last year and still got a decent day. Aldi do a fabulous cheap four bird roast which I already have in the freezer.

I keep a list of presents bought because I wrap weeks early and then forget what's inside (menopausal brain). The list also helps prevent a repeat of the cringemaking moment one year when I forgot to buy new SIL a present blush

Just about to order a large jigsaw to have on the go in front of the fire during the hols.

QueenofNightmares Thu 08-Nov-12 17:25:19

Sort it all early in the year! So many people wait until the last minute then panic buy or the things they want are completely sold out.

Don't go mad and feel under pressure to keep up with everyone else. A Small xmas can be just as special as a huge extravagant one.

Start buying your presents in the sales, pick up a little something every time you go shopping just a stocking filler it all takes pressure off you in the last few weeks run up.

Your local butcher can be your best friend ours do a hamper that you can pay off in bits through the year then pick up on xmas week with all your meat ready to go and he'll sub out anything you don't like too.

HullyChristmasgully Thu 08-Nov-12 18:16:46

Drink sherry

You will find everything runs smoothly and if it doesn't you won't care

cashmere Thu 08-Nov-12 18:46:05

I've been really organised this year and the shoppIng is all done. I have a list so I don't buy twice. I just use my iPhone to make the list so it's easy to update.

I've got nearly everything online- I've also done this previous years but have left it too late so things have been out of stock/delivered late.
It's worked well as I got some deals in Aug/Sept that people will be less likely to have seen (and know I got a bargain!). This includes The Book People sale.

I've also got the odd thing from supermarkets eg £12 bags of Mega Bloks for £3.50 in Tesco summer sale.

I've made a book advent calendar this year for DS. I got 80% of the books in charity shops over the last couple of years. It's already wrapped so it doesn't become yet another chore as Christmas approaches.

As we'll have a newborn this year I'm thinking of using lots of gift bags to make present wrapping easier. Im going to seek out some cheap ones. I usually enjoy wrapping/adding ribbons but seeing as I can't drink wine whilst I wrap/ sit on the floor comfortably I think this is the way forward.

In fact I think a few shortcuts will be introduced each year so the
festive season remains fun- not a tick list of things to achieve.
A fun new tradition could also be added each year as our children grow as this is what it's all about.

Badvoc Thu 08-Nov-12 19:30:39

Oh yes to gift bags!
Most gifts from me come in a gift bag smile
I tend to get the ikea paper ones as a) they have lovely retro designs and b) they are more Eco friendly than foil ones.
One thing I have found this year is an usborne book - making Xmas decs. Paper chains, angels, snowflakes etc.
It was £4 from the book people and will do for this year and next year!
I have made ds2 a fabric advent calendar..really easy. Piece of fabric about 35 cms x 65 cms and 24 squares of felt/fabric. Sew or glue on the numbers 1-24 and voila you have a calendar you can use year after year. You can put little toys, sweets, chocs, books even in the pockets.
You can also personalise them.
I am planning to get some Xmas fabric and make a tablecloth...will see what time I have! smile

missorinoco Thu 08-Nov-12 20:25:53

~ Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?

I stagger my Xmas shopping. It started in October this year. Think I even bought some biscuits for Xmas in September, but then gave them away as a gift, so that doesn't count.

~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?

Sort of. I choose presents as I go along. For food, I have a list, and I meal plan over Xmas. I quail at the thought of present shopping at any point in December on a weekend with the children. Xmas eve might break me.

~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? wink)

Erm, I might have been known to stalk Ocado and Sainsburys slots in advance for when they were coming out. I missed them last year, and got an early slot,. which worked better, as I then had time to pick up all the non delivered items and substitutes.

Yuk, I have become spectacularly retentive about all of this. I am depressing myself reading it.

My tip is to get the wrapping paper and xmas cards out of the loft, before you buy a batch more in a fit of being organised. I haven't gone up there yet, but have ordered more, and have a sinking recollection that i put them up there saying how i wouldn't need more for next year. Deja vu, i did this last year too.

FrillyMilly Thu 08-Nov-12 20:28:00

I definitely forward plan. I start my list in the summer of everyone I have to buy for and ideas of what to get. Then I pick stuff up when I spot a good deal or offer. I like to be completely finished by the end of November. I could think of nothing worse than doing it the day before!

I also stagger the food shop with the exception of anything fresh. I pick up mince pies, nibbles etc every week when I go shopping.

EdgarAllanPond Thu 08-Nov-12 21:16:20

from about september, keep an eye out for good presents - buy and hide them. If somethings right - don't hesitate so long as the money is in the bank - buy it! if you are doing a '£10 each' xmas - shopping online makes it harder to overspend - there is less immediacy to it.

check you have got all main presents by end November, then any Xmas shopping is just for the fun of it and for nice little extras.

you often get weird food outages in the weeks before xmas - eg no Roule cheese, no butter puffs biscuits, no cream, no nuts etc - make sure you have everything that doesn't have to be fresh a week or two before xmas if not earlier. You will have way too much food on the day so it doesn't really matter if you are missing anything in the end.

OldBagWantsNewBag Thu 08-Nov-12 21:50:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hopezibah Thu 08-Nov-12 21:53:23

My tops tips for Christmas:

Do as much as you can online - shopping for groceries, presents etc

Once you think you have bought enough presents for everyone you planned to, then stick to it (i.e. don't suddenly impulse buy a load more stuff).

Don't feel pressured to sent Christmas cards if you don't want to. We just tell everyone by email that we are giving a charity donation instead and haven't lost any friends over it. It saves lots of time and helps out a good cause.

Do buy yourself a box of your fave choccies to nibble through during Christmas day. It will give you something to look forward to!

If you like entering competitions, the run up to Christmas is a great time to increase your chance of winning (I have no idea if this is backed up by facts but in my experience I have had more wins in December than other months because everyone is too busy with Christmas to bother doing the extra little things like entering competitions.

Be prepared for changes of plan. If you've arranged to meet a friend, be more prepared for them cancelling because people tend to have a last minute panic of being too busy in the run up to christmas.

I would honestly prefer to just go away on holiday and escape it all - but DH / kids and grandparents wouldn't really go for that idea.

~ Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?
Plan ahead, buy in the January sales, buy things throughout the year if you see something nice.

~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?
We don't buy for other adults, makes things much much easier. I think of what my son would really like, though he is only two so an easy age right now. Food wise, we are vegan so don't need to worry about getting a turkey, and it's easy to cater for ourselves. Not so much different to a Sunday roast. No stress.

~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? )
Buy ahead, in the sales. Go vegan. ;)

~ Whatever your Christmas preparations involve, we want to hear about it.
Use Pinterest!

flamingtoaster Thu 08-Nov-12 22:05:10

~ Is is best to forward plan or stagger it? Start in January in the January sales and buy things in sales and on offer through the year if you see what you want.

~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve? I have a list and I do check it at least twice (ever since my mother discovered she had no potatoes after the shops had closed on Christmas Eve - a small shopkeeper was happy to let us have some!).

~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? ) Weeks ahead get in all the boring stuff like washing up liquid, toilet rolls, tissues etc. (stocking up when on special offer) Then start on the packet/tinned items You should only have the fresh produce to get just before Christmas then.

~ Whatever your Christmas preparations involve, we want to hear about it. We pick up our turkey form the butcher on Christmas Eve morning and it goes into the over after lunch on Christmas Eve. We have our first full meal by candlelight on Christmas Eve - makes for a relaxed Christmas morning and great to prepare the meal while the shops are still open!

MaureenLove Thu 08-Nov-12 22:07:32

I prepare for Xmas by doing it all online.


MaureenLove Thu 08-Nov-12 22:08:25

And I am presuming the PR company behind this gives NOT ONE TOSs about any of the answers.

turnipvontrapp Thu 08-Nov-12 22:46:55

Grr just added a message and phone lost connection so here it is again!

Do it all online- its so much easier and relaxing!

Just remember its only a day so no need to spend ridiculous amounts on food and drink. I sound like a right Scrooge now don't I! grin

DorsetKnob Thu 08-Nov-12 23:28:00

Plan and shop early.

Join a thrift or put some money into savings.

This month I am starting to prepare and freeze food to cook.

stephgr Fri 09-Nov-12 01:41:33

I make lots of lists and records of gifts not because I want to but because I have to! My memory is dreadful so I can easily end up giving someone the same present every year or more than one present whilst someone else gets nothing so I have to keep records. I'm very guilty of recycling gifts and I try to encourage people not too spend too much on gifts for me/my family or not to give us anything!

Flippityjig Fri 09-Nov-12 10:11:56

I'm not very good at planning and we don't have a huge get-together at Christmas but my top tip is online shopping!

Try and reserve your grocery shopping slot as soon as they become available but have enough time after the delivery to pop to the local supermarket to get the things they didn't deliver!

I do as much as possible of my gift shopping online, thereby avoiding the busy shops and getting the best price.

~ Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?

I do try and forward plan for Christmas, i.e. this year I started my Christmas shopping in October. I'm not that far forward thinking that I buy presents for the following year in the January sales though!

~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?

I have never EVER done my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve (I've seen the carnage first hand working in a supermarket!). I tend to book a day off (with DP) at the beginning of December and we have a lovely festive day of shopping.

~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? )

Try and buy as much as you can in advance - leaving only the fresh stuff to be bought (from a Tesco Express if you can!!) a few days before Christmas!

Issy Fri 09-Nov-12 10:56:33

Each year, I get a little closer to perfecting the art of 'The Slacker's Christmas':

Parkinson's Law applies to Christmas: Work expands to fill the time available. I don't start buying or planning for Christmas much before mid-December. The time pressure increases efficiency. Anything that doesn't get done, probably doesn't need to be done.

Don't send Christmas cards: Send 'Thank you for your Christmas card' cards. These can be written during the post-Christmas slump, there's no posting deadline, they can always be sent Second Class and will be enjoyed after the recipients have swept their mantelpieces clear of festive stuff. Obviously, if everyone did it, the whole Cunning Plan would fall through, but I will cross that bridge when it happens.

Turkey is Tyranny: Talk to your family in advance, find out what they really really want to eat on Christmas Day and serve that. However bizarre.

Don't plan for starvation: Apart from a 24 hour period on Christmas Day, you can buy food throughout Christmas and you have more time to do it after Christmas than before. OK, you may have to buy milk, eggs and flour from a petrol station and make festive crepes, but that's good too.

Something to Do: The one thing worth planning for Christmas is something to do on Christmas Day - church, walk, group sex, a swim at our local leisure centre which is bizarrely open on Christmas Day. A day spent at home over-eating, over-hot and over-excited is bound to end in tears.

lia66 Fri 09-Nov-12 12:25:05

I normal have most of my present shopping done by now. It being on maternity leave means I have to rely on dh to get into gear. His idea of being organised is panic buying on Christmas eve

Lunch is just a posh roast isn't it?

We ways make paper chains and have music channels on tv and sing whilst decorating the house the 2nd week in December

Can't wait for the film to come out, loved the first one. X

professorpoopsnagle Fri 09-Nov-12 12:40:39

Lists and more lists. If possible keep them on the computer because then you can use them year after year, maybe with a few alterations.

List who you have to buy for, ideas and then when you buy them something. If you hide them in the house put this on the list.

Make a list of meals, even if it is just a plan. Then work out what food shopping you need and convert these to lists. I find 3 'shops' is good, one for before in early December when you can get store cupboard things like crackers, crisps, Xmas pudding. Hide these so they don't get eaten. A list for about the 22/23rd with most of the fresh stuff, which then gives you 23/24th to get the last minute bits or things that were missing (I shop online except for the last one).

Buy your stamps early, PO queues from the first Monday in December are mega mega long.

Wrap as early as you can, it takes longer than you think, and the last 2-3 weeks of school are quite busy with plays, concerts etc going on. I have a roll of different paper for each child, so once wrapped place them in a big laundry bag to hide, then on Xmas Eve the sorting into stockings is quick.

Yes to lists - separated into lists of presents, jobs to do in the run-up, to do list for Christmas Eve, and to-do list for Christmas Day.

I prep all the veg on Christmas Eve, make the gravy, bread sauce and brandy butter, and stuff the bird, so that it is all ready to cook the next day - that makes life much easier.

My top tip is inviting my MIL to stay - she is helpful, kind and knows exactly how much to offer to do, when to back off, and when to suggest a cup of coffee and a sit-down - she is a star, but none of you can have her - she's mine!

TheMysteryCat Fri 09-Nov-12 16:00:53

I buy bits and pieces throughout the year for presents and always buy a couple of extras in case I've forgotten someone. I plan the menu in advance, bake sweets and cakes for presents and sort out travel long before Xmas.

I try and plan all the pre Xmas visits too and fill the time between Xmas and new year with family trips. It's a huge mission and can't be done without planning!

44SoStartingOver Fri 09-Nov-12 16:25:27

At the start of the school summer hols, take a jug of pimms and a notebook into the garden and start planning..

Categories include

Where will will spend xmas (plan accommodations and travel)
Who with (issue invitations)
List of everyone who needs a gift (inc kids, friends, neighbours, teachers etc)
List ideas for gifts
List for packing
List for decorations/table items/catering style items
Clear out old toys clothes etc in advance
Identify vouchers/points whatever to buy freebies for gifts
Work out how many gifts you need. If you identify something fab at a good price buy multiples. Buy the required number each week to finish gift shopping by the end of November.
Spend December attending concerts/parties/drinkies

Job done!

magentastardust Fri 09-Nov-12 16:26:01

I have 3 children and 3 Christmas birthdays so I have a long list. I try and put money aside when I can throughout the year but tend not to do the actual shopping until November as I find that's when all the best toy offers come out.
I check all the toy sites etc and try and make a list then compare to see where I can get certain toys cheapest -time consuming but worth it!

Its boring but being organised is the key for me ! I try and not start too early though so that it doesn't become a chore and drag and that I can still enjoy the run up.

Also try and do lots of fun things with children in the run up to get excited -making Xmas sweets and baking, watching Christmas films , decorating together etc.

Oh and my biggest tip try and remember it's just one day -don't give yourself too hard a time that everything had to be perfect ! As long as there is food , wine grinsomething to open and some decorations everyone will be happy !

Dolallytats Fri 09-Nov-12 17:06:28

I shop throughout the year for gifts. I try and buy things like cards, crackers and wrapping paper in the sales in Jan...all the things that get thrown away anyway.

My top tip for an easy Christmas dinner is to use a throwaway foil tray to cook the turkey anf the roasties in....the washing up becomes so much easier when you can put the messy, oily dishes straight in the bin!!

loubielou31 Fri 09-Nov-12 17:18:23

Make a budget and stick to it. Think about how much you can really afford to spend. A huge pile of presents under the tree is no use if you can't afford the gas bill. I know it's really dull sorry, but it's so important.

In a similar vein make a point of enjoying the small stuff. Snuggling under a blanket watching a festive DVD with value popcorn, brilliant.

Tyranasaurus Fri 09-Nov-12 17:23:47

kee the number of people you buy for to a minimum- sounds mean but i just mean don't get stuck exchanging smellies with casual friends. make cake and pudding in advance. have a vague ideas present list but not set in stone. shop online. don't like planning to far ahead- xmas thoughts banned til after bonfire night

JakeBullet Fri 09-Nov-12 17:25:00

Tbh, my main thought is to remind myself that it's just two days ...and as long as my son has something to open on Cmas Day then I have done well.

I do like to plan Xmas dinner and make the stuffing end of November to freeze.
Apart from that I just chill.

choccyp1g Fri 09-Nov-12 17:33:40

~ Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?
I usually get crackers and wrapping paper in January at half-price. Other presents I find if I buy too far in advance I forget what I've got and end up getting too much.
Ideally the last week of November, I get all the DC presents packed and hidden. One bag for stocking stuff, one for from Mummy and Daddy. If that's not done by the start of December I get panicky
Then get the family presents that need posting, people who you actually see over Christmas can be a bit last minute panic buys. We have a bit of a pact with grown-ups in the family, presents must be very small (no bigger than a book) or totally disposable (food or drink). Which means last minute wine and chocolate is perfectly acceptable, and regifting of such items is allowable, except for the dreaded mulled wine from the school fair.

~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?

Foodwise, once we've decided the main meat, I make a bit of a list, and get the non-perishables over a few weeks.

~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? ) If it's really necessary, they'll have it in Sainsbury's (or wherever your usual supermarket is) up to a few days before.

My other tip is not to over cater; we have big meal as a late lunch, and assume that Christmas day "tea" will be "snax" like fruit, cheese, crackers.
Over the holiday, you only really need one serious meal a day and the rest can be fruit, soup bread etc. ..which you can actually get in our local shop on Boxing day!

whattodoo Fri 09-Nov-12 17:59:44

I try to plan ahead as much as poss, pick things up through the year as and when I see them.
I have a list that I tick off when I've got the gift, wrapped it and planned when to deliver it.
Although I used to mock my aunties who had a book where they recorded who they sent cards to, who they received them back from, what they bought as a gift for everyone each and every year, etc etc etc. I now have one of those books! brilliant for reminding me that I bought books for x last year, so maybe buy toy this year ...
I tend to plan what I want to get everyone, then research it online. Often I'll have a wander around the shopping centre just to make sure I haven't missed anything then go home and order it online.
I use sites like quidco so i get cashback on many orders. I also make good use of loyalty points and promotions.
I've paid for a 6 month delivery ticket from Tesco this year, so will do all shopping online. having said that, I did it online last year then there was a great snow so they were unable to deliver. I had to battle my way through with the masses. But at least it had all been picked for me so I didn't have to fight for the turkey or queue for 2 hrs.

Christmas starts in January - christmas cards, wrapping paper, bargin gifts. Pick up gifts throughout the year, online, book clubs etc.

Defrost freezer in October half term and start stocking with christmas food - cocktail sausages, streaky bacon, sausage meat etc, sprouts yuk

November - try to get a list of presents. start researching where to buy etc

December - 1st saturday in December is house cleaning and the 1st sunday is christmas dec's day. I get DH to take a day off work early December and we hit the shops together and then go for lunch - this is a real treat for us as we don't get much time alone, sadly we won't be able to do it this year as DH doesn't have any holidays left and will have to take 4 days off without pay. I also take the day off work on the last day of term, send the DC's to school and come home armed with sellotape and spend most of the day wrapping. 23rd December is house cleaning day, DC's thankfully help, beds striped etc, the full works. Christmas eve is veg prepping day and table setting, any last bits of washing and do whatever I can to avoid the supermarkets until the afternoon when there are bargins to be had. Christmas day morning is the only time in the year I get a glass of Bucks Fizz so always look forward to that then it's down to cooking... generally by this stage I'm too pissed to care

Adversecamber Fri 09-Nov-12 18:58:22

Avoid relatives and double check sell by dates on fancy cheeses
You can never have too many pigs in blankets and eat chocolate coins for breakfast stolen from dc Christmas stockings

I buy presents throughout the year
I send as few cards as possible
I prepare all veg the night before
I never announce a time for dinner , just say will be roughly at 2pm
Do not bully people in to wearing Christmas hats <looking at you SIL>

Accept the fact that your dinner table will never look like the ones in Good Housekeeping unless you are LeQueen.

I buy all the presents really early (have finished my Xmas shopping already) as it's easier to budget (can spread the cost if needed) and it saves having to trail round the shops when it's horrendously busy. Since family aren't near by it also gives us plenty of time to get their presents to them whenever they visit before Xmas.

I tend to make a list of everyone we buy presents for and cross them off when I've bought something. I also make a list for Xmas cards.

Food-wise we've always just gone to the supermarket a couple of days before Xmas. This has mainly been because Ocado require a £90 min shop that week and we don't spend that much (it's usually just us for Xmas so not much more than a normal weekly shop). This year we've booked with Waitrose but we need to collect it.

Blu Fri 09-Nov-12 19:37:13

This year I will:

Post all the cards I found all ready to post but not posted when I found the Christmas card stash under the spare bed (I have no idea what year they were written, but the stamps will still be valid, won't they? They say '1st class', not an amount.

Order as much as possible online and have it delivered to the place we are staying for Christmas.

Buy christmas cards, wrapping and especially crackers in the Jan sales - it is scandalous how much these things cost!
Buy the jars of raspberries from Lidl - tins of raspberries for the trifle are scandalously expensive and surprisingly hard to find.
Have as many 'no presents' pacts as possible with extended family and friends.
If staying with family over the hols, take your own sellotape, scissors, rubber gloves and favourite kitchen knife. And corkscrew.

ScorpionQueen Fri 09-Nov-12 19:50:37

~ Is is best to forward plan or stagger it? I do a combination of both. I have nearly finished my shooping and am ready to wrap. I will buy some food and drink in November and order my meat. Then I'll relax until a week before when I panic buy.
~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve? I have a spreadsheet this year. First time ever. smile
~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? ) Write a list of everything and either order online or delegate as much as possible. If you have to go to a supermarket, go in the middle of the night.
~ Whatever your Christmas preparations involve, we want to hear about it.
Train the kids to write the cards and put up the decorations from a young age.
Prepare as much as possible in advance.
M&S is your friend.
Drink lots of wine.
Remember, it is just one day, the shops will open again soon and if you have forgotten something, it won't matter.

HandbagCrab Fri 09-Nov-12 20:40:48

Last year I got my presents, cards and wrap from m and s online the week before Xmas. No one noticed I hadn't run round the shops trying to pick the perfect present. Therefore this is what I'm doing this year and probably for evermore unless there is an even easier way.

If you won't tell me what you want you are getting electronic amazon vouchers.

I'm going to buy lots of ready prepared food from either m and s or aldi.

Emergency presents are wine or choc in a gift bag. Cards are written for just close people, I can't be arsed doing them for everyone anymore.

The only exception to this is ds who will get whatever his little heart desires smile

AllSWornOut Fri 09-Nov-12 21:23:10

My top tip is to act on any thoughts you have about Christmas during the year - window shopping and see the perfect present for great grandma? Just buy it there and then, don't try to find it (if you still remember it) the week before Christmas. Ditto food shopping (at least for the long lasting things). And the same for ideas. Set aside a page in my diary (and my phone's to do list) and every time an idea pops into my mind I note it down. Then forget about it until November.

chocolateistheenemy Fri 09-Nov-12 22:01:05

I love Christmas...........
I'm so excited already.
DH is dreadfully busy as a Headteacher - it all falls to me to make it work, even though i hold down 3 jobs to supplement our income and pay our mortgage.
So.....what do I do?!!
I buy toys for my nieces with Tesco vouchers whenever there's a Clubcard voucher double value promotion...
I buy clothes the next size up for my kids and my 8nieces in the sales...
I shop Im charity shops as often as possible because it not only saves me money, it donates to a good cause!!

SoggyMoggy Fri 09-Nov-12 22:03:01

Every year, wait for those little wire reindeer to go on sale. You know, the silly yard ornament ones that have little motors in them to make them bob their heads about.

Buy two.

As the years go by you'll have a miniature robot deer army. Get creative, paint them funny colors. Make a sign that says, "We welcome our robot deer overlords!"

It makes giving directions to your house a breeze.

Livelongandprosper Fri 09-Nov-12 22:47:38

Now is a good time to start making an easy christmas wreath. I will be making the basic circle for mine tomorrow by cutting some flexible thinnish branches while I am out walking in the woods. I twist them together into a rough circle and fix in place with wire. At the beginning of December I will be cutting some bits of greenery and fixing on pine cones and whatever other nice bits I can find. Fix a ribbon to hang and it's done.

Pinkbatrobi Sat 10-Nov-12 00:02:31

I write down what children or friends say they like, or need, as and when, during the year, on a note in my phone called something in code so that it can't be opened by the kids snooping about, ie NOT Xmas! Then I refer to that during sales (starting in January for xmassy things, winter clothes etc) or shopping trips and see if I can buy at bargain prices, or look online, amazon, sometimes eBay. I keep a list to remind myself where I hide Xmas stuff so that I don't lose it and end up having to buy something else... In the spreadsheet I also have a column for budgeting so that I know I won't overspend. Then in about October November we have a girly day out with a couple of girlfriends and go to a big shopping centre to finish off what we are still missing from list, if anything. That way we can split car/tolls etc, have lunch together and then shop individually before meeting again for coffee and showing each other our finds. A real treat!! I also generally buy a few spare books that can be dished out in an emergency if there's some unexpected last minute panic. Last thing, I ask the children to prepare a box with any unwanted toys for any younger children who come to visit to chose something from, and if anything is leftover it goes to charity. This way they make space for the new things they will receive. For teachers and neighbours I bake special biscuits with the children and then package them on a nice dish, or little tray, or pretty basket etc.

3bunnies Sat 10-Nov-12 07:11:20

I collect presents together early, charity shop bargains throughout the year and bigger presents from September onwards. My aim this year is to wrap little and often so I don't have the usual last minute panic. Dh still believes in the wrapping fairy so I find myself up until silly o'clock trying to wrap the last bits.

Food shopping doesn't concern me as we always go to one parent or other, which isn't always easy, but does mean that we don't have to shop. We just have to study M25 traffic flow and work out when everyone else is travelling and try to avoid them! Christmas Day itself is generally a great day to travel as no cars anywhere.

We start doing Christmas decorations for presents around half term, becomes a little elf production line!

My children don't really get materialism - they don't watch adverts and the older ones (girls) hate shopping, though ds is good company on a shopping spree. As a result their list for Father Christmas is rather short - currently dd1 wants immortality (yeah living for ever not some game) and a mini personal aeroplane which turns into a pencil so she can fly to school and do her work - she is nearly 8. Neither of these are in the Argos 3 for 2 so have had to improvise!

I enjoy all the lights, advent callendars, carols etc in the run up to Christmas, we usually go to see a film, very keen to see Nativity2 as we all loved the first one. And it wouldnn't be the same without the Mumsnet Christmas thread!

GreatExpectations2012 Sat 10-Nov-12 07:35:45

My top tip for stockings is to wrap each child's presents in a different colour/design. I don't particularly like this for under the tree as it means everyone can 'see' their gifts rather than it being an exciting mixture for the youngest child to hand out. For stockings it's perfect though!

I only wrap the things that are individual to the child, anything that's the same for all children is popped into the stocking unwrapped as I know they need one each. We use white pillowcases as 'stockings', which is a tradition from my own childhood. I fill spare ones earlier in the day and swap them when the children are fast asleep. One of my favourite traditions, it must be said.

We also do a run up of 12 days of Christmassy activities before the big day including a trip or a donation to a local charity depending on which one we've chosen. We dropped soft toys to a special care unit one year (with prior permission) and mince pies to the staff of a special needs school another year on an agreed date. This year we are donating to an animal charity - they prefer to receive money that they can spend on the things they need. We will go to their offices with our donation and meet some of the dogs.

Things like this make me feel less stressed as I do the bulk of the preparation. I can see it's about so much more than just Christmas Day.

roguepixie Sat 10-Nov-12 08:56:07

I think I am always a little surprised that Christmas has arrived, to be honest. It's like it has carried out a sneak attack grin.

I try to forward plan as much as possible - I do not have a large family so present buying is not the horror it is for some. There is no need to spread it across days, weeks or months. I buy little things for DS's stocking from October onwards and will often buy a new decoration for the tree each year.

Tips include:

* write those card early (if you send them). They are in the shops from October and there is no rule to say you have to wait until December to write them.

*write a list of foods you need. Spread the purchase over the months preceding December and store. If you shop online - snag your delivery slot although I wouldn't pay for delivery so you may need to wait for the free ones.

*make your own mince pies, cakes etc. Pastry can be made and frozen and then thawed when needed. Christmas cake can be made and stored and can be made to whatever size you want.

* wrap early!! Many is the year I have been found surrounded by paper on Christmas Eve ... when will I learn!!!

* think about homemade/handmade gifts. Food items are lovely: biscuits for cheese, oatcakes, fudge etc. Do you knit - knit socks (there are not as hard as you think...I've just learnt) or scarves.

I love Christmas. I love the glitter, the tree, the food. I love Mass on Christmas Eve. I love family - even though they make me pull my hair at times. Oddly I married a man who couldn't care less about Christmas ... but we balance out at Christmas. smile

dreamygirl Sat 10-Nov-12 09:21:55

I am definitely a forward planner. For the past 8 or so years I've used a Christmas planner book or folder which I can't recommend enough. I record gift ideas and eventual purchases (to avoid repeating the same thing the next year), cards sent and received, store receipts etc. I also use it to write down what we all got and from whom, for ease of writing thank you letters. Last year I made my own planner from a website called Organized Christmas (they give you loads of free printable pages to record whatever you like) and this year I'm following their Christmas Countdown which aims to have you ready by Dec 1st so you can enjoy the festivities!! Despite all my planning, DH always reminds me that the 2 Christmases I call to mind as the ones I most enjoyed were 1999 when I'd had horrible flu and DH and my Dad had to do all the cooking etc (it was just the 3 of us) and 2004 when we were expecting to have moved house, hadn't and ended up spending it at my Dad & Stepmum's. So maybe some spontaneity is a good thing (but all the same there would be no presents or food if I didn't do the planning!!)

johnworf Sat 10-Nov-12 09:30:28

I start buying wrapping and cards in the January sales where you can pick them up for pennies. I buy all year round for people when I see deals or offers. I have a spreadsheet so I don't lose track of what I bought for whom.

I would emphasis that to me, Christmas is about family, in particular children, and catching up with those people that you've not see enough of during the year. Don't spend too much time in the kitchen or the shops. Cheat if need be. Most of all, have fun smile

vamosbebe Sat 10-Nov-12 10:18:35

I make my cards in November so they're ready to send in December, early to avoid the overseas cut-off.
I also make my own wrapping paper. When ds is older we'll make all of these together.
I make my own presents during the year, either sewn or brandy-soaked.
We don't go overboard for Christmas lunch as I cook it and I hate cooking. I have made my Christmas cake and it's now in a big tin getting its weekly feed. Cake and mince pies are the only food that makes Christmas feel Christmassy to me. Oh and maybe stuffing.
I know I sound like a lentil-weaving old scroogess, but I really do love Christmas - just not Christmas when I'm stoney broke.

Hulababy Sat 10-Nov-12 10:54:24

DD loved the first Nativity film; she's now v excited to hear of the next one!

Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?

Bit of both, but not too early.
I plan who I will be getting gifts for but never start buying til after Oct half term.
We kind of know what is happening over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day as it is same each year, but clarify around now.

~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?

See above. I know who I will buy for and have a list on the computer which I update. I never start buying til after Oct half term, though not started yet. I will buy mostly online and have them delivered to DH's office. Def not a last minute buyer!

~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? )

Got my Ocado slot on day they were released for 23rd - I never do 24th in case they fail to show (thinking of Waitrose on last few years!!!) At moment it only has some fizz on to hold the slot. Will update it nearer the time.

there are so many threads asking for views in slightly changed wording - presumably everyone who wants their presence felt.

support your local shops is my top tip. it's nice having a shop around the corner so the extra 20p won't hurt

VerySmallSqueak Sat 10-Nov-12 15:43:28

I plan,plan,plan.I have an idea of what I want to get people and I list it.

I hand over all 'real' food shopping to DH (ie meals) and I buy the extras (cheeses,snacks etc) myself. I also buy non alcoholic drinks.

Once my children go back to school in September I start picking up on things that they mention and making lists of toys, games or activities that they may like as gifts. I can buy for my DDs from mid November onwards as they are teenagers. I like to plan early but don't actually do anything until after Bonfire Night.

DS writes his list for Santa at the end of November and leaves it on the mantelpiece before bed on the 30th November. When he gets up the next day the letter has gone and in its place is his Advent calendar. He knows that once the letter has gone there is no changing his mind - and it gives me three good weeks to shop for his gifts.

I buy non-perishable foodstuffs as I see them - hopefully when they are on offer, like the packs of J2O that I bought this week. My turkey, ham, fresh veg etc are bought early on Christmas Eve.

I usually make some gifts so start early making those. I should be done by the end of this month.

Wrapping is done during the day when the DCs are at school. I write our cards in early December and post them all second class. I usually wait until I've had at least three or four delivered here, so I don't look too eager. blush

Christmas Eve is for relaxing until the Children's Mass after which we have nibbles and something bubbly. Christmas Day is relaxed too - we eat when the food is ready and slump in front of Dr Who.

Declutterbug Sat 10-Nov-12 20:19:01

I forward plan by having a present spreadsheet (yes really blush). However, although I tend to start the shopping in Oct, I do also stagger it by doing it in bursts. I hope to have the vast majority done by the end of the first week of Dec. if at all possible I will avoid the high street altogether and order everything online? If it saves money then I'll do click and collect.

AlreadyScone Sat 10-Nov-12 22:32:56

I used to do spreadsheet Christmases, with all the family at mine, stockings for grown-ups, nearly all foodstuffs home-made...

This will be my 10th year in charge of Christmas and the formula is

-big presents bought early-ish
-little presents bought late-ish
-cards & parcels done by 1st week of December
-buy enough nice food for 3 days
-wing the rest, don't be a control freak, embrace tat, and enjoy yourself

These are a precious few days off work and school to celebrate with your DC. Don't spend them in the kitchen or the car!

angell74 Sat 10-Nov-12 23:28:17

Thinking about festive food I try to get lots of things prepared and stashed in the freezer before the big day so I don't spend all Xmas day in the kitchen.

I always par boil my potatoes then freeze them so they can be cooked straight from frozen on Xmas day, I make chicken stock for gravy by boiling carcases early in December and then freezing it in bags. I buy sausages and bacon and make my pigs in blankets then freeze them on a tray ready to go. Even bread and cranberry sauce can be made and frozen.

This just means I feel a bit calmer and Xmas Eve I can just prep my vegetables and make sure the bird is ready to go in the oven.

cherryjellow Sun 11-Nov-12 07:30:22

I plan in advance what everyone's getting, then as I get money over the months before, I buy the presents. Then last minute the week before, I buy any food late at night in tesco. That is my top tip, food shop when it's 9.30 etc, trolley bumping is no fun and it's stress free! We always make a few home made gifts too usually in the start of December. No last minute rushes on that one!

lionheart Sun 11-Nov-12 09:14:02

Yes, what swallowed said. Support you local shops if you can.

Take a couple of bin bags and have a total house purge a few weeks before Christmas. Collect up the unloved, unplayed with, downright annoying toys along with the stuff gifted last year that has languished in a cupboard ever since. Deliver them to a local charity shop. smile

Otherwise, at 10 am on hristmas morning, your house will resemble a toys r us sale.

Welovecouscous Sun 11-Nov-12 10:38:04

Start shopping early!! smile

MaryZezItsOnlyJustNovember Sun 11-Nov-12 12:31:11

[ here]

Hope this helps grin

MaryZezItsOnlyJustNovember Sun 11-Nov-12 12:31:25

Rats: here

Kveta Sun 11-Nov-12 13:56:50

~ Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?

i pick up little things during the year and keep them on top of the wardrobe, then forget they are there until after Christmas which should save a last minute scramble to buy.

~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?

I make a list, but am flexible if I see something better, or the person I'm buying for mentions something they're after.

~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? )

main tip is to avoid being pregnant over christmas, as I spent last christmas mainly throwing up in between preparing meals. it made food shopping an endurance test too. as we only have 4 of us to cater for, 1 who will only just be on solids and one who will be too excited to eat much, we are not doing anything adventurous this year.

wellcoveredsparerib Sun 11-Nov-12 16:32:27

I do try to plan and buy presents and booze from October onwards to ease the financial pain.

My best recommendation is to buy online as much as possible and comfortably in advance to avoid the "will it arrive on time" stress.

Visadiva Sun 11-Nov-12 18:00:59

I buy a little extra something with the weekly shop from about September ( box of biscuits, chocolates, tin of shortbread etc) and stick them on top of the wardrobe. You don't notice the few extra pounds spent and can build up a nice little stack of Christmas goodies.

Buy all veg pre prepped. Life's too short to chop carrot and turnip and trim sprouts if someone will do it for you.

Lay the table on Christmas eve. Saves the stress on the day of trying to do it while running in and out of the kitchen and opening kids toys.

Take the kids to the cinema on Christmas eve afternoon to watch something festive. Calms them down a little bit grin

janx Sun 11-Nov-12 19:50:39

Before kids I would swan around the shops in December and would be buying presents right up to Christmas eve grin
Now I tend to pick up things all year round - mainly for birthdays but may stash some aside for christmas. For immediate family I tend to buy in Nov. my son has a birthday at beginning of Dec so that month can get expensive.
Food wise I am probably less organized though I don't feel stressed about that.

Shinyshoes1 Sun 11-Nov-12 20:03:08

~ Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?
heck yeah !!!i'm a 'buy it Boxing day for the following year kinda person. On my Facebook page I start the Christmas countdown and links to various bargains......much to everyones annoyance
~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?
I have a spreadsheet.. I list what i've bought people previous years.. The budget per person this coming year, Which shop in order (can picture the layout of Lakeside shopping mall in my head) in and out.. minimal fuss with a break for the Special Christmas Starbucks offer and then a break in time for lunch
~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? )
I order the M&S christmas food ordering...I'm literally queing up for the Christmas catalogue....I spend days pouring over it

QOD Sun 11-Nov-12 20:16:59

Stay with family Xmas eve and day (and insist on donating cash and helping with every single bit - I act as galley slave whilst slowly getting pissed)

Boxing Day at my mums - repeat as above except no money given

Happy days!

HullyEastergully Sun 11-Nov-12 20:36:21

Go to ESK.

They have Christmas for 5p.

Today I bought a flying santa in a plane that sings when you clap. And a hat that is a chimney with boots hanging from it. And a large furry reindeer head.

What more does one need?

Taffeta Sun 11-Nov-12 22:01:21

Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?

Food etc I do both - some last minute, some advance prep. I don't like pre frozen mince pies eg, I like them fresh from the oven.Presents I normally have them all by early Dec, staggering it so head doesn't explode

~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve? . I buy presents mostly in Oct and Nov.

~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping?
I booked my Waitrose slot months ago <smug> DH buys the turkey the last day he's at work in London from M and S or Waitrose, the fruit and veg ordered ahead from our local van. Nearly all presents I buy online, I don't set foot near a high street or mall from end Nov until end Jan.

TheWintersTale Sun 11-Nov-12 22:46:10

I live abroad, but usually try to make it home to the UK for Christmas. My top tips are:

1. Shop for gifts year-round. As other posters have mentioned, there are great bargains to be had throughout the year and these purchases can be used as presents for Christmas.

2. Put all presents in a specific place in your house so that you don't forget about them and then buy too much.

3. Christmas gift sets look lovely, but it is possible to create your own unique gift sets using crafty bits that you may have lying around the house. I tend to buy a few bath accessories/ cosmetics throughout the year when they are on sale, and then put them in a little basket that I decorate with ribbon etc. Works out cheaper, and it's lots of fun.

4. Final tip is more for those living overseas: I write my Christmas cards in the summer, when I'm back in the UK. I stamp them up and get my mum to pop them in the post come December. Good way to avoid international postage costs.

racingheart Sun 11-Nov-12 22:53:09

Top tip: relax! The DC would far rather have smiley parents than ones who are stressed because they walked up Oxford Street 5 times to look for a sold-out Lego set.

Don't shop too far ahead for main presents. I know people who buy it all in November but my DCs lists have changed beyond recognition since last week. I hold out until advent before shopping for most people, unless there's a really good deal on.

But do pick up stocking fillers as soon as you see them. I keep them in separate bags, so I know how much stuff each DC has.

Don't buy tins of chocs and biscuits ahead of time unless you have willpower. Mine just get eaten and replaced several times over if I buy ahead.

All year round we shop online, but for Christmas we hit the supermarket. I want to see exactly what we're buying.

VirtuallyHere Mon 12-Nov-12 10:48:21

~ Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?

Some forward planning in that around November time it is worth making a list of who needs presents buying/what Santa is going to bring this year.

~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?

A Christmas shopping list generally. And avoid the high street in Christmas Eve like the plague.

~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? )

We use our Nectar points and go shopping normally a couple of days before. As our Sainsburys store is 7 minutes walk away and they only now shut Christmas/Boxing Day I dont' see the need to stockpile lots of food.

~ Whatever your Christmas preparations involve, we want to hear about it.

Gifts will come from online and local shops (I like to try to support local businesses where possible). Xmas cards and wrapping paper ordered from charity this year. Xmas cards will start being written at the beginning of December and presents wrapped as we buy them (to save spending Xmas eve doing it).

~ Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?
I try and save throughout the year and tend to buy most things November/December, but I do buy wrapping paper, cards and gift tags in January when they are reduced a lot.

~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?
I do have a list but do anything to avoid shopping on Christmas Eve apart from some fresh food items. I buy as much online as possible.

~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? )
We have a traditional Christmas dinner. I buy as much as possible the week before but always end up going for last minute fresh things on Christmas Eve. I always promise myself I will get it delivered but then get jittery incase it isnt delivered!

~ Whatever your Christmas preparations involve, we want to hear about it.
We plan the day to keep the young children occupied - save presents for them to open in the afternoon when everyone has eaten dinner and they are getting bored. I prepare by making lists and crossing things off as they get done. I have bought most of my presents now and I love the feeling that I wont be battling through shops the week before Christmas finding presents. Online shopping is a godsend too, if it can be bought online it is!

Cambam2010 Tue 13-Nov-12 09:48:48

I always intend to shop early but inevitably leave it to the last minute.

I do as much of my gift shopping online to avoid the hustle and bustle of towns and shopping centres, esp with a toddler in tow.

My best tip, and one that I manage to follow year after year, is- Always get yourself invited round to a relatives house for Christmas dinner! This cuts down on a lot of the preparation work ;-)

My biggest problem this year is getting my 2 year old to says his Nativety lines "I bring Myrrh" at the right spot in the play...

shriekingnora Tue 13-Nov-12 14:38:24

Eat at everyone else's houses (if you're invited of course!). Shop onlin eduring October half term. Start Christmas cards at least two weeks before you think you need to.

badger01 Tue 13-Nov-12 14:49:57

I find buying small bargain gifts for stocking fillers as I find them from September onwards and stashing them away takes the pressure off the December rush for presents. Also the cost is them spread through several months and not in one hit.

maximum4 Tue 13-Nov-12 16:31:23

Top Christmas Tip - Give everyone money (kids, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles etc...)!! Then you have no Christmas presents that are unwanted, you save money and you are Eco friendly! i.e. less postage miles, less wrapping, less petrol (doing the shopping!) - All very Bah Humbug I know!!

Blatherskite Tue 13-Nov-12 21:01:13

I try to have all my Christmas shopping done before the end of November and I do the majority of it online. I hate the crush of the shopping centre near to Christmas so try to avoid it at all costs. Online tends to be cheaper too. I always have a list else I end up forgetting what I've bought and over-buying or panicing.

We've signed up for the Tesco delivery saver this year so I should get first dibs on the Christmas delivery slots for our food but to be honest by then, it'll only be the fresh bits to get anyway as I'll have stockpiled everything else - this is when having a spare freezer in the garage comes in very handy.

pleasestoparguing Tue 13-Nov-12 21:26:31

-leave all the wrapping till Xmas eve - you will burn your lovely relaxed Xmas Eve meal and not get to bed till shortly before the DC wake up
- leave the turkey in the freezer till Xmas Eve evening it will take till lunchtime the next day to defrost
-think that DH will 'just know' what to do - you will have to give clear instructions maybe get him to repeat it back to be sure
just remember that if the DC are happy then Xmas is perfect - as that is all that matters - they will remeber the fun and the presents not whether or not the table decorations matched the crackers.

GetKnitted Tue 13-Nov-12 21:45:28

my [unhelpful] advice, stay calm, it's only 1 day out of 365, there's plenty of other days to do a full roast dinner and give things to people if you'd rather relax on 25th December

hytheliz Tue 13-Nov-12 21:48:42

I have been slowly doing my xmas shopping since September and it's definitely the best way to grab bargains as they come up, avoid the stress of last minute shopping and get thoughtful gifts. I mix it up by doing lots of shopping online as well as picking up random bits as I see them in the High Street. My top tip is just to be organised and not leave things to the last minute.

ICutMyFootOnOccamsRazor Tue 13-Nov-12 23:27:43

~ Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?
I think a bit of both so that it doesn't always rush up and make the last couple of weeks totally manic. I enjoy wrapping presents etc quite close to the day, though.

~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?
Without a list I would be totally sunk. I would probably buy 15 things for one person and miss 2 others off completely. I need to keep track of what's been bought and what I have left to buy.

~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? )
I try NOT to food shop at the last second, but if I do need things during ther last couple of days (inevitable), I race out super early and get to the shop as it's opening. It's the only time of day that it's a)relatively well stocked and b)not utter hell.

renaldo Wed 14-Nov-12 11:11:49

My top tip is dont do your internet shop with sainsburys
Despite having ordered 6 weeks in advance they turned up on chrismas eve with no turkey for me
'out of stock' apparently
never shopped with them again
I ove Ocado now

JustFabulous Wed 14-Nov-12 11:31:42

Blu you will have to check that none of the families have lost or added a relative though.

CalmingMiranda Wed 14-Nov-12 11:35:06

I have changed my mind about early preparations!

Panicked by MN I started my Xmas shopping early.
Now I have had better ideas for things people want or have heard them mention an ideal pesent, and one person I have already bought for has declared they do not want ANY presents. Gah!

JugglingWithPossibilities Wed 14-Nov-12 18:43:31

I try to keep Christmas as simple as possible & enjoy all the lovely free bits like the DC's School carol concert in the Cathedral, or their nativity plays when they were younger.

I'm hoping to make a nut roast this year as shop ones not always so good, and my top tip to myself this year is to buy in some quality accompaniments like bread sauce, cranberry sauce, stuffing, & veggie gravy. DH does a sterling job of preparing and cooking Christmas lunch (team effort) but he does go a bit crazy for his packet mixes ... stuffing/ gravy/ bread sauce etc. I'm hoping to upgrade these without him noticing too much !

Second tip is to shop on-line and ask advice on Mumsnet pressie threads - everyone so helpful and kind. Make sure tissues are to hand though as kindness of strangers apt to bring a tear to the eye in the Christmas season grin

HannahLI Wed 14-Nov-12 18:58:43

So presents wise I have been shopping all year as I see things and I just have a few to do. Planning for me is key and I usually do a mix of food ordering from the butchers, delivery slot and I send my dh if we have to go to the shop. This year we are sharing Christmas lunch with my parents so that takes some of the strain off. My top tip is think ahead with Christmas lunch as stuffing balls and sausages wrapped in bacon can be made weeks before and then frozen saving you time! Just remember to defrost them with your turkey!

I try to wrap each present as I go when buying.

Cook in advance and freeze as much as you can for the big day.

carovioletfizz Wed 14-Nov-12 20:24:38

I start buying stuff in January - go into your local charity shops and you'll find a whole load of unwanted Xmas gifts that people have dropped off.

I start buying in earnest in July - just a few things each month, then you don't get a shock when it comes to December!

Always leave buying things for children between 5-18 till last as they do change their minds about what they want - nothing worse than spending a fortune on something in October only to be told in December they don't want it any more!

StainlessSteelCat Wed 14-Nov-12 20:27:03

Even if you don't buy the presents until the last minute (despite swearing blind every year you'll get more organised next year) do work out what you want to buy people - it makes the last minute dash round the shops that little bit less traumatic! I now keep Amazon wish lists for the children updated throughout the year, so come xmas I can just order on line for them.

Top tip for on line shopping: cultivate your neighbours, it'll save you hours and hours if they can take in your deliveries grin.

For the food shopping, I make a big list in early December. I buy the stuff that'll keep early. I do a veg/fruit shop in the final week. And a replacement alcohol shop because we've necked it all.

I always try to be organised about wrapping but other things get in the way, so me and DP end up on xmas eve doing a marathon wrap. It's kind of fun though - make sure we do the kids stocking first so we don't' get too drunk to put them in the right place!

goingmadinthecountry Wed 14-Nov-12 20:47:40

Find the old GH recipe for Christmas Pudding vodka and make it about 6 weeks before - uses up all the daft Christmas Pudding leftovers and tastes yum.

I keep 4 bags in my wardrobe and wrap and put stocking presents in there as I get them. I make a list for each and use different paper for each child just in case. This is very useful if like us last year your 6 - 8 drinks and nibbles people stay till very late and you drink too much wine and forget to eat!

Under a different name many years ago, I recommended chopping veg and putting them in plastic bags and using disposable roasting trays Nigella style. I was annihilated for my anti-planet saving advice. I still do it, just on this one day. Less washing up = more fun time. So shoot me.

goingmadinthecountry Wed 14-Nov-12 20:49:49

Oh, and only go to Waitrose after mid December. Tesco is hell.

bryonywhisker Thu 15-Nov-12 18:44:56

My top tip is to put the sprouts onto steam the day prior to Christmas Eve. keep topping up the water if it runs dry and they will be perfect by lunchtime on the big day itself.

JugglingWithPossibilities Thu 15-Nov-12 19:13:22

You are joking there Bryony ? grin

Sounds like a tip from my old school dinner ladies wink - nice, mushy tender sprouts !

Gosh, I hope you're not serious, and going to be terribly offended blush

Puppypoppet Fri 16-Nov-12 09:48:05

My top christmas tip is to do food shopping off peak - say 9pm onwards or really early in the morning. Shelves have usually been restocked and it is much quieter. Also for my Christmas food shop rather than go to Mr Ts I head to waitrose or sainsburys - again much quieter shop and the food shop is more interesting as don't usually shop there. If I need anything last minute rather than head into the city I go to a nearby market town and shop there - find it less stressful.
I have 2 Christmas shopping lists one for food and the other for gifts - I aim to get gifts bought by early December and food shopping done 2-3 days before Christmas Eve. I buy the vast majority of gifts online as there are much better deals - cashback and discount codes and usually free delivery.
I like to spend christmas eve at home - definitely not a day to venture out to the shops.

mummybrained Fri 16-Nov-12 13:01:50

I love xmas shopping online, as I don't get side-tracked by all the sparkly tatt in the shops. But my tip is do one 'window-shop' of the major shops and brands, especially with gadgets, books and toys, so that you see them in the flesh before going online to get the best price. There's nothing worse than thinking you've got xmas sewn up, then it all arrives in the post and looks flimsy and cheap!

JugglingWithPossibilities Fri 16-Nov-12 16:47:35

I think I've had a pretty good day of on-line shopping thanks to other thread - the bargains one. I think it's def less hassle, and less easy to get distracted by tat. But yes, I'd probably mix it with a bit of RL tat shopping too grin
Last year I got lots on-line and then enjoyed going to our local Notcutts one afternoon to get extra little bits for stockings. It was a rather expensive trip for nothing much - except maybe a bit of Christmas magic and sparkle plus chocolate grin - but it felt better knowing it was a tat stocking trip and nothing more smile

rosiesmartypants Sat 17-Nov-12 04:17:15

The one thing I do every year is start putting money on giftcards in the summer (normally Asda and Boots), and add to them each month as I get paid, using them like a 'savings' card....then use them to go Christmas shopping with at the end of November. I also divert all my ClubCard rewards to the Tesco Christas Savings club for the same purpose.

Doesn't cover off everything, but certainly helps a whole lot grin

Bosgrove Sat 17-Nov-12 17:29:13

If you like fresh homemade mince pies warm from the oven for your Christmas tea, what you can do is make the pastry early. Roll them out and put and fill them your pies as usual in your pie tin. Then wrap the whole tin in cling film and freeze uncooked. When you want to eat them, cook them straight from the freezer adding a couple of extra minutes to the cooking time.
I have bought lots of cheap extra pie tins just for doing this every year as it is so much cheaper and nicer than buying mince pies.

Cantharellus Sun 18-Nov-12 09:35:42

This year we are hellishly skint, so I am in complete denial.
I have done perfect Christmases in the past and everything in between.
I refuse to beat myself up over anything.

My teenage son told me yesterday his favourite thing about Christmas is a) the stoccking full of silly things and b) chilling in front of silly films with us.

So we can do that! And it won't cost the earth. And we will all feel better for not having hyped everything up to the max for 5 hours of one day in the year.

Punkatheart Sun 18-Nov-12 20:32:41

I am loving some of these tips!

Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?

I pick up things throughout the year. Sometimes they don't make it to Christmas and they are used as emergency birthday presents. But I am in the January sales...picking up all kinds of Christmassy stuff, to pack away.

Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)?

I tend not to do official lists except for my daughter, who writes her own. No Christmas Eve madness for me. I don't like crowds or panic.

What are your Christmas shopping top tips?
What about food shopping

I hate all the sweets at Christmas...I am sick of them in November. I buy loads of fruit and veg. I never panic buy, but I do pick up things a week before and take it easy.

I think it's a case of being 'What's the worst that can happen?'

I make up hampers, I write stories for small relatives. I don't lose sight of the fact that Christmas should be fun!(snapped up that Ocado slot yet? )
~ Whatever your Christmas preparations involve, we want to hear about it.

melliebobs Sun 18-Nov-12 20:43:18

Christmas christmas christmas. I'm too laid back and all a bit last minute. And i have DH birthday to contend with on Chrismtas Eve as well. I'd like to be one of these that plan well ahead and start buying bits in October but it's just not me but i don't let it wind me up. I leave it all till december, get as much online as I can, but i make a list and make an night of the late night shopping. Go and get my last few presents and reward myself with a Starbucks after (to me that's a treat!) The Christmas day meal I just treat like my normal roast, it just has one or 2 extra bits. So just get everything in my normal food shop. We don't have a set time for xmas day meal, just go with the flow. Think we had it about 3pm by chance last year.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 20-Nov-12 10:36:22

Thanks for all the comments [tries not to panic about not planning anything yet for christmas] - anyway - am pleased to say ICutMyFootOnOccamsRazor has been selected as the winner of the £100 - will PM you now for your address. Well done.

ICutMyFootOnOccamsRazor Tue 20-Nov-12 20:21:25

Thanks so much! grin grin

I'm really grateful.

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