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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks and good luck with the prize draw!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use IPhone to keep track of lists.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

i try not to worry if anything is forgotten!

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

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

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

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

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

Do not leave everything until Christmas Eve....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm sorry but I cant resist.

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

I thangyou

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

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

No presents
No decorations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Thu 15-Nov-12 22:26:04

Can I just say, I love Clas Ohlson.

Seeing them in Kingston just makes me think I am in Norway. grin

GetKnitted Thu 15-Nov-12 22:43:54

Be organised (erm, of course) but don't forget, the supermarket will be open again in 2 days, so no need to panic buy! smile

Emmysmum2010 Thu 15-Nov-12 22:53:16

Christmas for us is alternated each year between both sets of parents. In 7 years living away from home I've yet to cook and cater for the Christmas dinner - this saves money too as I don't need to buy a turkey etc until after boxing day when they ate cheaper smile

We see both sets of parents, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon for dinner.

A pen & paper is always at hand to write down which gifts are from who and the mess is all left behind at Nanny & Grandad's house

I think some people get a bit more worked up about it than they need to. Basically for us it means some visitors, a big meal, some presents and just some "trimmings" (decorations, stockings, Christmassy music etc), but most of those aren't really that hard to sort... The most important thing is to have a nice time together, and that's easier when you are not all stressed about getting everything just like in a magazine, but more laid-back about it all. I think the hardest bits are present shopping, and clearing out the spare rooms (full of junk) ready for visitors. The rest of it, with a little bit of planning and prep, shouldn't really be that bad.

ArcticRoll Fri 16-Nov-12 08:04:15

I have large extended family so we agree only to buy presents for children and grand- parents only.
I host Christmas Day but usually only seven of us .
However when I meet up with my side of family there is over twenty so we book a meal in a restaurant so nobody has to stress about catering.
I book an an online supermarket delivery - couple of days before Xmas- then if they miss anything from order I still have time to stock up.
I always book leave for days preceding Xmas so I am organised before children break up so can enjoy the build up to Xmas rather than panic and stress.

Ahardyfool Fri 16-Nov-12 09:22:54

Don't go mental and hallucinate that you have turned into a Craft Queen. It may sound like a good idea to have homemade xmas cake, pudding, screen printed wrapping paper and embroidered monogrammed stockings for your children, but really it isn't.

Also, never ever plan to peek chestnuts.

Oh, and buy trifle sponges and marzipan NOW, better still in July.

Ahardyfool Fri 16-Nov-12 09:26:37

Peel not peek

Kendodd Fri 16-Nov-12 09:40:23

Christmas is easy.

Shopping is done on line, they'll often even wrap it for you. Food delivered on the 23rd so we have enough time for a last minute trip to the shops if anything was unavailable.

Part of Christmas lunch in frozen in advance- potatoes and parsnips are par boiled then frozen so that they can just go straight in hot fat from the freezer. Mashed carrots and swede, also frozen and microwaved when needed. Mince pies also frozen in advance, pudding made late autumn. Brussels sprouts, red cabbage and pigs in blankets all prepared the evening before so that they just need cooking. And I always do a cold (easy) starter.

I put the children's stocking presents all in plastic bags as I get things, one bag each, so that they can just be decanted into stockings on Christmas eve, no sorting needed.

flamingtoaster Fri 16-Nov-12 13:51:56

We have our first full Christmas meal by candlelight on Christmas Eve (we started doing this when the children were tiny so I could really enjoy Christmas morning without worrying about the turkey). We all dress up and there is still a wonderful sense of anticipation.

Christmas morning stockings can be opened anytime after 5.00 am, tree presents can only be opened after breakfast has been eaten and washed up. List is made of who sent what as it is opened. After church we have a light lunch and then another full Christmas meal by candlelight in the evening.

I start looking for the following year's Christmas presents in the January sales and try to have everything bought by the beginning of December.

RedKites Fri 16-Nov-12 14:27:18

I find lots of lists make me feel more organised in the run up to Christmas. Although the really important bit is getting things on the lists done, rather than, for example, delaying buying presents in case I spot something better nearer the time. I'm still working on that bit...

I've been collecting presents in sales and as I've seen them since August but as usual, I've bought too much for DSis who is easily pleased!
I think buying the rest now in November is the best plan, certainly not waiting till the last minute. dD is 2 and so isn't bothered about volume or cost yet, do she'll be getting some jan sale bargains smile

Himalaya Fri 16-Nov-12 16:06:31

Don't read magazines.
Avoid department stores.
Generally don't overload the day with expectations.
Buy some presents, but don't go overboard.
Decorate but don't feel like you are trying to create a winter wonderland in your house.
Make xmas dinner, its only a big roast.
Don't cook things that are traditional but you know no one likes.
Drink brandy. enjoy.

we do christmas eve at mine, breakfast at my siblings house and parents in the afternoon (all of us are at each - madness really).

lists of who is getting what, then wrap them and put them in big bags (finally the endless charity bags that come through my door come in handy) for each household so i know which ones are going where.

it is a bit exhausting to be honest. in between the morning/lunchtime bit and the late afternoon bit we come home and have an hour or two to chill out but ds can't chill as he knows more presents are waiting at grannies house.

i have it easy really as i don't host anything formal or demanding - i make christmas eve a casual affair with something like beef stew and mash that is tasty but easy to serve and most of the work can be done beforehand. i don't have to serve much alcohol as most of my family is driving to midnight mass afterwards and as i have a little house everyone is eating wherever they can find space - most on their laps.

i don't think i could pull off a formal christmas day and as there is just ds and i at home it would be a bit sad to do it on our own and he'd miss the rest of the family. sometimes i dream of how nice it would be to not have to go to three venues and have every minute accounted for but in reality it's nice and it has become our tradition. worst part is at my parents as they always argue and make things really stressy. trick is to breathe and not rise to any of it. alcohol flows generously through necessity.

BettySuarez Fri 16-Nov-12 20:10:41

When our children were teeny we used to save Christmas dinner until boxing day.

It's sounds strange but it was so much less stressful and meant that we could dedicate the day to the kids instead of stressing in the kitchen. We would have cold meat and pickles Christmas day and full blown dinner on boxing day.

ScorpionQueen Fri 16-Nov-12 22:37:22

Prepare as much food in advance as possible. M & S is your friend.

Don't leave wrapping until Christmas Eve- you will run out of paper/tape/time/patience.

Put the meat in the oven and go for a nice walk (the pub) for an hour to avoid going stir crazy.

Record anything you really wanted to watch in case you miss it.

Have spare batteries ready.

And wine.

CMOTDibbler Sat 17-Nov-12 09:40:35

Its not worth gettingg stressed over, it really isn't.

Personally, I'll be hoiking christmas dinner 80 miles to eat with one person who can barely string 5 words together, has a very poor memory and is forgetting what food is, and another being driven mad by caring for the other. Presents may consist of just about anything, and the house will be filthy.
But they are my parents, and I love them, so it will be great. Its not about the matchy wrapping paper, decorations and faffy food, its about making an effort for those you love.
And then crying in the car after ds has fallen asleep on the way home because you miss the woman your mum once was, and the christmasses past.

ScorpionQueen Sat 17-Nov-12 09:55:55

CMOT you are so right. The important thing is to be with loved ones even if it isn't always the easiest thing. I hope you win the voucher.

Happiestinwellybobs Sat 17-Nov-12 11:17:43

I start buying presents early on and pick up things as they are on offer. If we are hosting Christmas I make sure that my food delivery is booked 3 weeks in advance to give me the best date for perishables, but always anticipate something not being delivered so allow time to nip to shops.

The table is dressed the night before along with any prep that can be done.

Presents are wrapped with a glass of wine in hand and "Love Actually" on the TV so it is not stressful at all - although after a second glass of wine the wrapping isn't quite as neat!

And we book the dog in for a bath and spruce up well in advance so he smells gorgeous smile

justcait Sat 17-Nov-12 17:02:43

My top tip: live on a different continent to both parents and in-laws (requires all presents to be posted by end of Nov, no last minute panic). Then take off to a nice quiet rental house in the country for a week, stock up on food and wine and settle in! No real plans, no real 'traditions', just relaxing. And presents. There must be presents. And some tinsel if I'm feeling organised grin.

androbbob Sat 17-Nov-12 18:37:26

Lists and more lists. Only now not on paper as kids can read but on password protected file on pc.

Also got a free gift list app on phone so planned who to buy for and budget. Then add items and cost when purchased. Easy to seee at a glance who is left to buy for.

Trills Sat 17-Nov-12 20:26:13

How to avoid Christmas disaster - don't expect people who don't usually get on to magically be the best of friends because "it's Christmas".

mumnosbest Sat 17-Nov-12 21:08:36

Make sure you stock up on batteries, xmas light bulbs,cellotape. Keep spare wrapping paper for the present you forgot to wrap and have a loaf of bread and pint of milk in the freezer for when you run out.

mumnosbest Sat 17-Nov-12 21:11:18

I hope CMOT wins the voucher too and buys something nice for her mum n dad and a big box of tissues for herself x

Jux Sun 18-Nov-12 10:49:05

Tbh, I have no idea how we have a calm Xmas, but we do. I suppose it's mainly because we've done it for 13 years and so we just know.

Terribly unhelpful, I'm afraid.

Oh, this might be it! We do Xmas lunch on Boxing Day. This isn't in order to add to the calm, but simply so I don't have to think about timings on Xmas Day, so then I can do prolonged opening of presents, have a glass of champagne etc, along with everyone else. We have a Smorgasbord of Yumminess on which we all graze all day. It also means that anyone can drop by on Xmas day and have drinks and food.

We do tree and wrapping presents on Xmas Eve, so it's a big flurry of excitement and anticipation. Everyone gets stockings.

happybubblebrain Sun 18-Nov-12 11:13:08

Eat out on Christmas day.
Buy gifts throughout the year when on offer or in sales.
Buy all cards, wrapping paper, crackers etc in the January sales.
Aim to have all presents bought and wrapped by the end of November.
Don't buy too much.
Have a spreadsheet for cards, presents and food and just update each year.
Relax and enjoy December while everyone else runs around like crazy people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My tips:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plan plan and plan some more:

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

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

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

Then breathe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope CMOT gets the voucher too.

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

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

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

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

* I accept that it WILL turn into a tip and the best thing is to get drunk as early in the day as possible and not worry about it* grin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CMOT hope you get the voucher x

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

I get as much done as possible in advance. you never know whats going to go wrong in december.

Welovecouscous Mon 19-Nov-12 22:47:43

Always shop on Xmas Eve grin

BoerWarKids Tue 20-Nov-12 01:09:04

How do you approach Christmas? With a Zen-like calm and festive cheer? Or with an impending sense of doom and dread?
Slight dread, as I think the true meaning of Christmas has been lost and it has become far too commercial and materialistic. I stay Zen-like by starting the buying and preparation way in advance!

If you host Christmas, how do you stay organised and keep your home from turning into a tip? If you head elsewhere for Christmas, how do you make sure you take everything you need and don't forget essential pressies etc?
Luckily I'm not hosting. If I was, I would ask each guest to bring and/or contribute something. I'm heading elsewhere and have Christmas related lists on my phone to stay organised.

Please do share your advice and top tips for avoiding Christmas disasters and making the festive season run smoothly
Be organised. Start everything early. Keep lists on your phone. Keep yours and everyone else's expectations in check. It doesn't have to be perfect. It's just one day!

We go to my parents' house for Christmas as our flat is too small to host the rest of the family. This means all I have to worry about is booking our train tickets and getting the presents sorted and I do this gradually from October onwards, ordering as much as possible online and getting it delivered straight to Mum and Dad's (and just hoping it has all arrived ok when we get there). We always have a lovely relaxing Christmas.

I'm pretty laid back about christmas. As we aren't religious we view it as a family day. Although we buy gifts we only spend about £200 in total on family and friends so we don't worry about getting the 'must have' items, it's books, chocolates etc. From about October I have a 'christmas drawer' and pick up things as I see them on offer so by now I already have all of the chocolates, gift wrap and wine I need.
Its a rare day that my family get together as we live in different parts of the country. I'm central so we eat at mine but the day is all about getting together. We eat when its ready, no set timings. We go for a nice walk, play games and relax.
I think if you build it up and expect it to be perfect it could be stressful, but we see it as a nice day with good food, wine and family. No more no less.

BiddyPop Tue 20-Nov-12 10:48:29

I work on Christmas all year - I roll over the excel presents spreadsheet in early January to capture any great sales buys, remember anything about things they'd love/need and set a budget for the year too. Especially as I have over 40 to buy for (large families all around). It also doubles as my crafting list (cos it takes me so long that I need to start work on some things in Jan to have them by Xmas). But most people never even see/hear about that.

Because I work on that all year (and I don't try to spend loads, it's about thinking carefully what individuals would love), it means I am usually not too bad for racing around in December on shopping and wrapping. I try to start wrapping in November, and not have it all to do on Christmas Eve.

I tend to put things for my immediate family into 1 bag, DH's family in another, a 3rd for my Dad's family (living local to us), and I'll usually have a 4th bag for the rest of the people local to us (my Mum's family, DH and DD, DH's aunt, friends). It means that when we are heading off, I can grab the relevant bag with everything in it and not get things for my parents and siblings mixed up with those for DH's parents and siblings (as we travel down the country to them, but only a few miles between them there).

And by getting organised, I have time to do fun stuff with DD at home, and to organise family fun like a steam train trip with Santa (this year, we are planting trees with Santa). An afternoon bringing DD to get her Christmas shopping and a hot choc stop without having a list of things I need to get too. Getting to carol services or other nice things for me, in between the manic pace that is work at that time of year - and also enjoying meeting a few friends for lunches etc (not all afternoon affairs, but catching up on the chat over a sambo and maybe A glass of wine if I don't have afternoon meetings).

Food wise, we don't go overboard. It's a slightly bigger Sunday roast, and we do a nice Christmas Eve meal of nibbly bits. We do get a few things for Stephen's Day, as the neighbours usually call in and some family too, for DD's birthday (birthday cakes are hard to find on Christmas Eve!). And we'd have a few extra bottles of wine and beer, but not slabs of it.

House-wise, we try to do a decent clean the weekend before, (we're usually fairly ok but just an extra good swipe) and put away the piles of clutter over the month of December. We get DD to go through her toys to donate old ones and throw out broken ones (and she buys a new one to donate too). And we also bring things we don't need to charity shop beforehand.

We don't generally have people in on the day. Either we travel (in which case we bring nice things with us for both sets of parents as we will visit both on the day, and a lot over the few days we're down) or we eat at home just the 3 of us. But if we are at home, we do a lot of visiting - Church, DH's aunt, my Gran and some of her kids (only my Dad is not in this city, but while most gather there for evening meal, 3 of the 5 have other committments earlier in the day), then home to put on the turkey and grab the last bag to go to my Aunt.

I set the oven on the timer for the bird, just in case we get delayed. And if we are delayed, we can make roasties smaller to cook fast and steam veg rather than roasting it. But it's a relatively straightforward meal anyway - roast bird, boiled spiced beef, roast spuds, 3 types of veg, gravy. Followed by cheese board, and probably ice-cream to keep DD happy. Pudding tends to be a lot later when we have room.

And definitely don't worry about it. It's better to go with the flow and have a good atmosphere than worrying about it all and trying to keep to a strict timetable (although, if you aren't used to doing large meals, working it out backwards from a rough sitting down time is VERY helpful - but once you know it is all cooked ok, then leave a gap for a relaxing 10 minutes sitting down before serving). If having lots over, a cold starter is good, especially one you can plate up early. Try to have veg etc prepped from the night before and soaking in water ready to cook.

And if having lots of people over - delegate!! Someone to set the table, someone to keep drinks flowing, someone to keep making tea for Auntie Maud, someone to entertain the kids (or alternate between beloved aunties and uncles)...

And have someone ready with a black sack for all the wrapping paper when the presents are getting opened.

A good tip I heard a few years back was to keep a small Christmassy box or shoebox wrapped in Christmas paper (lid seperate) under the tree. With a screwdriver, sellotape, few batteries, spare light bulbs for tree, ....sorts of little bits and pieces for emergencies that you can just grab.

jimmenycricket Tue 20-Nov-12 11:22:22

Vodka, lots and of vodka wink

Seriously I abandon traditions and just say 'look everyone really likes curry, so we're having curry, deal with it'.

THERhubarb Tue 20-Nov-12 11:25:54

Get organised.

Make lists of things that need to be done, stick them on a noticeboard for everyone to see and tick chores off each time you do them.

Prepare in advance. If you can buy non-perishables now then do so.

Assign everyone a few Christmas tasks so that you are not left with the burden of doing everything. Make sure each person pulls their weight.

Have a clear out. Items that can be sold, list on ebay and other items either give to charity or recycle them.

Prepare your home in advance. Finish off those little jobs around the house and complete decorating tasks so your home is spruced up and ready for Christmas.

If you are cooking, do an itinerary of the day so that you know exactly what needs to go in the oven and when, making sure that each family member knows what their responsibilities are. For instance, your partner could be in charge of the starters whilst you entertain the guests, then the children can clear away whilst you serve the main course and then once again the kids can help clear away whilst your partner brings out the dessert. That way each of you has time to socialise and one person is not doing everything.

Ask guests to bring along something to help out. Perhaps Aunty Flo could bring the starter whilst your mother-in-law could bring the Christmas pud and Uncle George could bring the wine. Most people are happy to bring something along and it means that you don't have to buy absolutely everything.

Order online where you can to avoid the high street queues and to take advantage of online discounts and deals.

Make sure you always have a glass of wine to hand on the big day!

nextphase Tue 20-Nov-12 13:13:26

Its not all about big presents and lots of money spent (tho having spare cash does help his attitude, I suspect)

Make a list, check it twice, don't stress it.
Get organised early, and make sure all presents are labelled!

Write out a time table of when you need to be in the kitchen to allow roast to be at the desired time, and then fit everything else around it.

Unpack kids toys, and take out all he little wirses and strings holding it in place, make sure you've got enough battries.

Accept people are going to think differently to you, and it doesn't matter if you go your own ways for a short while - I took the kids to church (cristingel service on Christmas eve), while the in laws went window shopping. Each to their own.

Elainey1609 Tue 20-Nov-12 17:02:54

I love christmas and look forward to it .
i will say that the weeks before hand im stressed....but as i love it so much that stress is well worth the calm and my enjoyment of the actual christmas holiday. I want to spend the majority of time with my family

I do plan things ahead of time, cut some corners and dont give myself extra work .

This has come easier with the avalibity of internet shopping as i dont have to run around tryig to find presents that always seem to be out of stock. and ive started early this christmas.

We order all fresh food before hand so we only have to pick it up

All the main xmas pressies are wrapped up before hand only leaving me stocking presents to do xmas eve.

I know its bad but we have a take away xmas eve while normally watching xmas films or lisning to carols.

I do all my preperation for xmas dinner on xmas eve, prpare all the veg and and stuff turkey.

And i dont beleive i should be the only one slaving over the oven at dinner time so family all pitch in

I also dont worry about time schedules as it just calls for more stree, if the dinner is a little late who cares

It a plan of action in my mind that enables an enjoyable time

mummyofcutetwo Tue 20-Nov-12 17:08:48

How do you approach Christmas? With a Zen-like calm and festive cheer? Or with an impending sense of doom and dread?
I love Christmas! To me it means spending time with my family - something that doesn't happen very often as my siblings, parents and I live in different parts of the UK, except for one brother who lives in New Zealand (boo hoo). I love buying or making the right presents for everyone, and I'd rather not give someone a present than give them something that "will do".
I love the Christmas lights, taking my boys to see Father Christmas, visiting the Christmas window at a local department store, treating myself to a special Christmas coffee - everything!

If you host Christmas, how do you stay organised and keep your home from turning into a tip? If you head elsewhere for Christmas, how do you make sure you take everything you need and don't forget essential pressies etc?
We'll be visiting my parents' this Christmas, as we do every year. I try to help them get things sorted for the big week. I make the Christmas cake months in advance, but I always make the mistake of leaving the marzipan/icing/decoration far too late!
This year we've got our new addition to add to the fun, which will make getting things to and from my parents' a bit more tricky! I've bought most of the presents in advance and took them over to my parents' when we stayed with them at halfterm.
To make sure I don't forget anything I write copious lists - on the backs of envelopes, on my phone, on the computer, ... Inevitably things get forgotten, but so long as I have the two boys, enough nappies to get through the closed-shop stage and any medications they need we can cope without anything else we've forgotten!
There will be a lot of us staying there so I try to keep things from becoming too much of a tip for my parents by putting our presents in a box straightaway after opening and allowing a max of two things per person out at a time. It rarely works though! Luckily my parents are very lovely and patient!

I leave it all to the final month before, as previously bought gifts throughout the year,then got caught up in the buzz leading upto the big day and ended up with far too much!

I NEVER ask people what they want,they get whatever I choose so I am not chasing round looking for a purple spotted briefcase! (You get the idea!)

I do everything online,save my reward points for the food,book my Christmas delivery slot as soon as they are released and STAY AWAY FROM THE SHOPS! Dinner is a team effort,and the dishwasher takes care of the dirty pots.

As long as we are all sat together to watch the Dr Who Christmas special with full tummies we are happy!

Elkieb Tue 20-Nov-12 20:33:27

I tend to approach Christmas like a work task with the opinion that if you get the slog out of the way you can enjoy the rest (and the wine!). I write a list, give everyone a budget and go shopping. This year I did it in an hour! The food etc should be nice but not mental amounts of snacks etc. it's one day and I think people have forgotten why we celebrate it. I want to spend time with my family and friends, not spend the day worrying about how much time and money I've spent. smile

Visadiva Tue 20-Nov-12 20:43:33

Send the kids and the husband to the cinema on Christmas Eve. Some breathing space for you and keeps the house tidygrin

zipzap Wed 21-Nov-12 01:30:49

My mum kept a notebook of all christmases and birthdays - religiously writing down what she bought for everyone and what we in the family received from everybody. It went back before I was born and ran out last year - I bought her a new book as part of her christmas present. It's lovely to look back through and see what we got and think of the history, the memories and the friends over time.

I now keep a record too - albeit on my pc rather than in a book (although there is something missing when it is online!) and contemplating moving it onto my phone or ipad.

It's really handy to see what you have given and when, make sure you don't give the same thing twice in a row or regift something back to its originator!

I also keep a note of food served so I know that when I did turkey for 8 of us I got a 3kg bird (or whatever) whereas it was 6 Kg when there were 6 if us but 20 on boxing day when cold turkey was part of the buffet etc

I also have mindmaps/lists on my pc that I have built up over the years to cover everything from november onwards - christmas card lists that just need to be updated, address labels set up so they just need to be updated from last year and then printed ready to stick on envelopes, presents (including family, friends, teachers, etc), decorating, guests coming, where we are going, checklists of things to make sure I have in stock that are easy to get well in advance (toilet roll, kitchen roll, turkey foil, washing up liquid, redcurrant jelly etc) and the basics list for the week before xmas and the day or two before.

It's an evolving document so I try to keep it updated as I work my way through it, then it is even more helpful next year!

I try to keep calm and not worry about it, I enjoy it and try to get started early (some presents bought in the january sales, lots bought in oct/nov if possible) but dh is really not into christmas and can be a bit of a humbug about it, especially if I stay up late ordering stuff or researching stuff or mumsnetting instead of sorting stuff out!)

There's inevitably a bit of a last minute rush though - dh's mum has her birthday on christmas eve so we need to trek up to see her usually, just when I would like to be doing my last minute stuff. That's the only thing that makes me grumpy (and yes, I know I am being unreasonable!) - because it is a fixed date it means that we always see her on her birthday, so my family traditions of things we used to do on christmas eve never happen for me as I'm always at MIL's. And invariably I end up wrapping the sodding stockings and presents at stupid o'clock, then wake up at even more stupid o'clock to put the turkey on. Then wonder why I am always so tired over christmas day.

On the day itself, having laid the table the day before, and sorted somewhere that you can keep food warm without it going off/discoloured is a good idea - then you don't have to panic about everything getting to the table at once. Making sure everybody knows what the stock jug looks like is important too if you are collecting and saving veggie water to make the gravy with - makes the gravy so much nicer - so heartbreaking when you spot someone being 'helpful' and 'just washing up as you go to keep you tidy' as they are drying the jug having thrown away the water and washed and dried it.

Keeping track of the kids presents and who has sent what is also important if you don't want a nightmare later on. I've started taking photos of the label and then the child opening the present. Hopefully they look happy to receive it or are playing happily with it and then you can email it or print it and send it as a nice thank you card to the person that gave it to them.

Finally it's important to make sure that you have two emergency boxes of your favourite chocolates in, hidden in different places, so that if things all become too much you can hide and let chocolate soothe and help. And then hide again if it all becomes too much again later with the second box - assuming nobody else has found it!

MrsHoarder Wed 21-Nov-12 08:06:33

As we're here this year, I already have a list of everything we need and a bird in the freezer. By December I will be truong to get everything off the list to avoid a last minute dash.

Present star is in progress too.

kathylilly23 Wed 21-Nov-12 11:00:32

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

Get everyone wrapped up and out of the house every single day no matter what the weather is doing. Fresh air blows away stress and give the children opportunity to get rid of pent up energy.

THERhubarb Wed 21-Nov-12 13:34:46

What paper do you use to wrap them up in Clementine wink

<idly wonders what Kathylilly23 said>

grin rhubarb!

littlemonkeychops Mon 26-Nov-12 18:29:29

My main tip is don't take on too much! Don't cram in more than you can manage without getting stressed.

Also, don't try and be too "perfect", cut corners where it doesn't matter or won't be noticed with the cooking etc and instead focus your energy on the bits thst really matter.

And make lists!!

zipzap Tue 27-Nov-12 00:30:41

Another thing that is important - make sure you have at least 2 or 3 potato peelers, several sharp knives and enough small/medium chopping boards so that you can set everyone to work preparing veg. Will be done super quick if everybody pitch in.

It's also good to watch the faces of those who wait to volunteer to help until somebody is ensconced in front of the potato/parsnip/sprout/etc mountain and then volunteer to help, expecting to be told they are not needed and they can go have another sherry... Producing a knife or peeler and asking them to get stuck in and watching their face fall is great! smile

fallingandlaughing Wed 28-Nov-12 16:19:36

Decide what your priotities are. You don't need 3 types of stuffing, whatever Nigella says.

SoupDragon Wed 28-Nov-12 16:23:26

Start drinking Bucks Fizz or Bellinis at breakfast, ply your relatives with them too and keep going til after lunch. Then collapse on the sofa.

EllenParsons Tue 04-Dec-12 03:01:38

Try not to take it too seriously. What matters is everyone being happy and together - no one will mind if every last detail is not perfect! Get others to chip in and bring some food and drink with them, make sure you have enough of the important stuff in stock like baileys and quality street!

LateDeveloper Tue 04-Dec-12 14:58:00

I don't like to do too much shopping in advance - I work better under pressure and have brought some of the best, most inspired presents when swooping round the shops in the week before Christmas.

try to do a few homemade things with the kids - decorations, fudge etc - they love to contribute

don't try to be too tasteful - for me a gaudy tree and crumpled skew-wiff paper chains are really homely and Christmassy

if you have to do a food shop a few days before Christmas don't do what I did and take your 3 month dd with you. Even though she was in a sling she nearly got barged into several times by Christmas-crazed trolley zombies.

KatieBMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 06-Dec-12 15:29:40

Thanks for all your comments. The winner of the prize draw is...


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