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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!

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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!

RememberYoureAWomble Tue 20-Nov-12 10:18:10

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.

EnglishGirlApproximately Tue 20-Nov-12 10:48:19

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!

morethemerrier Tue 20-Nov-12 19:36:17

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.

ClementineKelandra Wed 21-Nov-12 11:28:43

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>

ClementineKelandra Mon 26-Nov-12 11:17:13

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!

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