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Already started thinking of the festive season?! Want to? Share your top tips to beat Christmas stress with Lidl: chances to win vouchers NOW CLOSED(200 Posts)
We KNOW it's early but lots of you (and Lidl) are already thinking ahead to December and we're sure MNers have a whole wealth of fab Christmassy tips to share. As great as Christmas is, we know it often comes with a world of stress, whether that's the pressure of entertaining, avoiding cooking disasters, or managing it all on a tight budget! So please share your top tips for beating these battles.
Tell us what do you do to ease the stress of Christmas? Is it the art of preparing early, finding those great value-wins or quick cheats like great tasting and great priced party food?
Add your tips to this thread and you will be entered into a prize draw where 5 MNers will each win a £50 Lidl voucher.
Thanks and Happy Christmas
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Wow, Christmas talk already?! Every year I manage to put off making plans as late as possible, as there is always some ridiculous family drama over who goes where. The food & entertainment is the easy bit to be honest. I start looking for offers and putting special Christmas food in the weekly shop from the beginning of December. We have a tradition of buying tubs of Quality Street and Roses, which can only be opened on Christmas Day (even if it is at breakfast!). Christmas Day lunch is very traditional, but I do take shortcuts like frozen roast potatoes, glazed parsnips etc to save on time. Neither DH, the DC or I eat Christmas cake or pudding, so we have a Yule Log or s frozen dessert. The evening meal is a hot and cold buffet to cater for everyone and I buy more 'luxury' deli food I wouldn't normally get. To balance out the cost, I get big sharing packs of frozen party foods, such as spring rolls, mini pizzas, mozzarella sticks, chicken goujons etc. I can split these and leave some in the freezer for Boxing Day or New Year. My other life saver is partly baked bread. Oh, how could I forget the Christmas cheer- we buy Cava, which is just as nice as champagne but a quarter or the price! For a bit of nostalgia, we might even have a Babycham or splash of advocat to make a 'Snowball'.
I write ideas down for presents all year round so if anyone mentions anything they need or like I jot it down on my phone so that I at least have some inspiration by the time November / December comes!!
My top tip is not to start thinking about Christmas in bloody August.
Get your berries picked, ready to put into your Lidl gin ready for Christmas
I start shopping from October for presents to spread the cost over 3 months. I also have a budget for each person and stick to it rigidly otherwise it's too easy to over spend.
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If you have alot to buy for, start buying early. Adults can be easy as their tastes don't easily change. For children? Buy stocking fillers, and basic non character things in end of summer sales.
Plan out what you intend to do for Christmas early. My family laughs at me because in Feb/March we've deicded where we are for Christmas. But it stops the run up assumptions.
And also make a spreadsheet! When you buy something record the rrp and the actual cost and the recipient. Its amazing when you see how much you save/spend and also lets you know what you've already bought
I'm already thinking about Christmas. Putting a list together and buying from the Christmas bargain thread. Saves the mad dash in December.
Yes to spreadsheets. I have one every year. I set a budget for stockings and one for 'main' presents. That way I can see what I have spent on whom. I can also check back for what I got people last year.
My other tip is to remember that Christmas is supposed to be joyful. It really doesn't matter if things don't go to plan. if you get stressed everyone else gets stressed.
It's not that early. I have 4 paydays to get everything and don't plan on getting into debt so have started my bargain hunting. Also, stuff is a lot cheaper now than it will be in November/December.
Head over the the Christmas Bargain Thread for a group of like-minded bargain hunters.
I also start a Christmas cupboard for food that won't go off- chutneys, Bailey's, biscuits etc.
Buy gifs as you think of them or when on speical offer. Wrap as you buy. Cook ahead and freeze. I freeze the pudding, soup and often the meat. I also batch cook meals to have throughout the holidays so they are in the freezer.
We do a buffet style breakfast so everyone can have what they want, skip dinner then have our Christmas dinner in the evening. Takes away the time pressure and means I can enjoy the day with the children and relax.
I also do as much as I can in advance. Jamie Oliver gravy made in advance and frozen is fab.
To make things easier I:
get all gifts bought and wrapped by the end of November.
Get two stockings per child and swap an empty one for a prefilled one on Christmas Eve
Wrap in separate colours for separate children or families
Put the Christmas shop money on a gift card and put aside earlier in the year
Buy wine and drinks on BOGOF offers or 25% off and store
My top tip would be to remember its just a day (in December, not August!) and family is the important bit. Dinner is basically a Sunday roast. Don't go overboard with presents; arrange a family secret Santa type thing or agree a limit. It sometimes ends up buying just for the sake of it and gets a bit silly.
My top tips:
- write lots of lists (and try to remember where you put them all).
- do as much as possible online - far easier to order presents from the comfort of my computer than schlepping round the shops.
- buy things in advance where possible - this applies to stocking fillers, presents (if I see something perfect for someone), and to food that can be frozen.
- I do the wrapping in one big session - I set myself up at the dining table, with bagfuls of presents and stocking presents, and work through it all. It is easier now I can simply stash the bags of wrapped presents in the conservatory, and know that the boys won't go and investigate them - I used to have to drag it all back upstairs and hide it in my bedroom!
- do preparation ahead of time - I make stock (for the gravy) and freeze it, and I peel and freeze chestnuts to go with the sprouts. Make and freeze breadcrumbs for the stuffing and bread sauce. Last year I made and froze the stuffing - that took one job away from Christmas Eve. We have roast goose with gravy, apple sauce and bread sauce - and I make the apple sauce ahead of time too.
- I get up early on Christmas Eve, and do as much of the preparation as I can - peel the veg, make the sauces, make the brandy butter, stuff the bird and put it in the fridge, and ice the cake (I bake that ahead of time, and marzipan it a day or two before Christmas Eve).
- I never make the pudding now - I used to, but it took such a lot of mixing, preparing and then six hours steaming - for something that no-one really wanted to eat anyway, that I gave up on it, and buy one instead!
- I have to buy bacon wrapped sausages - they seem to be one of the best bits of the meal, as far as the boys are concerned - they are another thing I buy ready made, and stash in the freezer!
When the DC were tiny we started our tradition of having our first full Christmas meal by candlelight on Christmas Eve. There is still such an air of anticipation - it's a very happy meal. Starting on Christmas Eve had several advantages - (a) the shops were still open while I was cooking, just in case; and (b) Christmas morning was a much more relaxed affair and I could enjoy watching the DC opening their presents and playing. We enjoyed this so much that we still do it.
I always have a back up for any part of the meal in the freezer. This was especially important the year I boiled the pressure cooker dry with the Christmas pudding in it.
Christmas cards, paper etc. are bought in the January sales and during the year if I see something perfect for a present I buy it.
Following with interest! I love Christmas, it does easily get out of hand though! We're definitely doing less food and less gifts this year! My stepson, didn't even manage to open all of his for over 3 weeks, so we re-wrapped for his birthday!
I buy lots of cranberries when they are in season and make enough cranberry sauce for the year, (cranberries, orange zest and juice, sugar and sometimes a drop of port) and freeze it. Come Christmas Day, I just grab some out of the freezer and it defrosts nicely in time for lunch.
I always prep the veg the day before and leave in bowls or Tupperware boxes filled with water and a squeeze of lemon to stop them going brown.
I also prepare the stuffing the day before, so it just needs to be popped into the oven on the day.
Yes to the spreadsheets! Just make sure you have a bit of paper to hand when you're all opening your presents and jot down who bought what for whom (you could of course have the spreadsheet open but that would be a bit clinical on Christmas Day, no? ). A couple of days later, try to remember where you put it and add all those details (that you've already forgotten) to the spreadsheet.
This way you avoid the embarrassment of realising later that you regifted something to the person who bought it you.
Over the last couple of years we have all decided not to buy presents for the grown ups. This has helped with the budget. We have also decided Christmas day will be just the people that live in the house this year. We usually have SS30, DD23 as well as her boyfriend and our grandson who is 15 months.
SS spends most of the day asleep and DD moans a lot so we have decided that Christmas day will be more relaxing without them. They are welcome any other day, but we want a day without the stress that only the older children seem to bring with them.
I make separate lists for the dinner, the presents etc and tick things off as I get them. I start shopping early for the things that can be bought in advance.
And yes to prepping the veg the day before, which I've just noticed.
Even better is to use J Oliver's idea of having roast veg all in oil with different herbs and flavourings for each veg. Put them all in lines in a massive oblong dish on Christmas Eve, leave them somewhere cool (the car boot's good if the fridge is full) and all you have to do on the day itself is bung them in the oven. The oil stops them going brown overnight.
And as an extra tip, get a hostess trolley. I wish I hadn't laughed at them back in the day. I bought one about three years ago and it's great (and you can keep all your extra china and crockery in it in between high days and holidays).
I've started to pick up little presents in the sales that are going on and have decided on the main (big expense) presents for both dds so I know how much money to put away each week to spread the cost.
I've also started a savings card with the local butchers who also give you a £2 stamp for every £20 you spend. This will buy all our meat for Xmas and new year as they do meat hampers.
DH, ds, and I all have Amazon wish lists to which we add things through the year (well, ds has to ask one of us to do his), so that people can choose from them if they so wish and its still a surprise. And no duplication.
Also, you don't need a ton of food all through December. We restrict it to the few days around christmas
I've been picking up presents in sales since Easter, so in November/December I'll have a bit extra to spend on nice/special food and drink.
I just remember how (as a child) my mum stressing when we had company' sucked the joy out of everything, and I relax! It's nice food, presents, time off, with people I care about. No need to stress or spend more than I can afford.
Er, and I stock up early on mini stollen as they always sell out fast.
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