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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,


worldgonecrazy Thu 08-Nov-12 11:38:11

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.

ThePortlyPinUp Thu 08-Nov-12 11:43:14

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.

HipHopOpotomus Thu 08-Nov-12 12:04:41

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.

ShiverMeWhiskers Thu 08-Nov-12 14:14:29

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.

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