The ultimate hosting Christmas checklist

family Christmas

Before you know it the halls will be decked and you'll have a house chocked full of loved ones to feed and entertain. It may seem like a mammoth task right now, but break things down into manageable chunks and you'll be ready for the festivities in no time

Preparing your house for hosting Christmas

bauble

Try not to sweat the small stuff – as long as everyone has something to sit on, something to eat and somewhere (if necessary) to sleep, then you're doing just fine.

☐ Make sure there will be enough chairs for everyone – both at the table and for falling asleep in front of the TV

☐ Check you have plenty of cutlery, crockery and glasses for dinner, pudding, and other nibbles throughout the day

☐ Gather any extra bits and pieces you need for setting the table (some fun festive serviettes, crackers etc.)

☐ And always grab some extra loo roll, kitchen roll, cling film and tin foil – which can all work out much cheaper if bought in bulk beforehand (and will always get used up)

☐ Make space in the fridge/freezer for leftovers

☐ Replenish the first aid kit (you never know)

☐ Source extra bedding and air beds if needed

☐ Get fresh bedding ready

☐ Tidy up the house (get everyone to pitch in!)

☐ Check there will be enough parking for guests

“Spread the chores – for example, decorations don't all have to go up at the same time. I spread it over two or three days, and just do a little bit when there are a few minutes spare.”

“Have a Christmas cupboard where you keep all your special Christmas crockery, napkins, table decorations, candles, the tablecloth. Basically, all the paraphernalia for setting the table and decanting the nuts!”

“Wrap fairy lights around a kitchen roll holder, starting with opposite end to the plug, to keep them tidy when putting them away.”

Some helpful bits and pieces which could come in handy…

Related: looking to be a bit thrifty this year? Here's how to do Christmas on a budget

Getting the presents ready

presents

Synonymous with the festivities and a source of stress for many – but it's easy enough to get your gift giving under wraps.

☐ Buy in a couple of emergency presents in case you have unexpected guests, or the kids receive surprise gifts which match the ones you've got wrapped up already.

☐ Schedule some time for present wrapping – you don't want to be stuck doing it all on Christmas Eve (again).

☐ Have your scissors, Sellotape, gift tags, wrapping paper at the ready.

☐ Grab some bin liners and have them at the ready on Christmas morning – when the presents are opened, make sure the rubbish goes straight in the bags.

☐ A pillow case containing a combination of little presents and main ones is a good alternative if you're breaking away from stockings.

☐ Don't forget to leave a present for Santa and his reindeer.

“Have a spare selection box or bottle of wine to hand at all times in case a friendly neighbour or friend pops over with a gift, so that you can reciprocate.”

“My top wrapping tip is to set yourself up at the ironing board. Put the Sellotape and scissors et al on the iron rest, and use the board to wrap on. It's the right height so you don't do your back in, and you can get all the way around the present for neat wrapping. It makes wrapping big presents much easier, and saves you lots of time with the little ones.”

Things to make present wrapping a little easier…

Related: the best Christmas presents for teenagers, the fussiest members of the family

Get ready for all of the festive food

Christmas dinner

As soon as you know how many you're feeding, take the time to sit down and draw up a battle plan.

☐ Decide your meal plan early and check with guests for any dietary requirements.

☐ Make a comprehensive shopping list

☐ Always plan time for a last-minute supermarket trip, just in case.

☐ Make sure you know your Christmas dinner timings, and get your turkey in plenty early enough.

☐ Stock up on store cupboard basics to avoid getting caught out.

☐ Organise some nibbles to keep guests occupied.

☐ Book your Christmas supermarket delivery slot in advance.

“If you want to get your shopping delivered from the supermarket, make sure to book your slot as soon as the perfect ones become available, which is usually in November.”

“I have a Christmas shopping list on my computer that I use every year. I always revise it after Christmas if we don't use anything, and it saves the mental load of thinking about what to buy food wise anew every year.”

How to cook a Christmas turkey

Watch our video with Paul Kelly, a turkey farmer and owner of KellyBronze, for tips on how to make the perfect Christmas turkey. It's an easy recipe that guarantees a great tasting turkey on the big day.

Make preparing food and drinks that little bit easier…

Sorting out entertainment for the festive period

family christmas

Entertainment doesn't have to mean pulling out all the stops – it's all about the finishing touches.

☐ Set up a Christmas playlist so there's no arguing with Alexa mid-meal.

☐ If there's any Christmas telly you can't bear to miss out on watching live, set reminders.

☐ Stock up on drinks (alcoholic and soft) and ice, if the fridge space is at a premium.

☐ Get some craft supplies together to keep the youngsters entertained (they could even start to make their thankyou cards).

☐ Raid the cupboards for board games and packs of playing cards.

☐ Buy some batteries – you'll need them at some point. Promise.

☐ Hosting a party? Designate one room especially for your younger guests – stock with art supplies, video games, DVDs, snacks – anything you see fit to keep them entertained.

“Have a spare selection box or bottle of wine to hand at all times in case a friendly neighbour or friend pops over with a gift, so that you can reciprocate.”

“My top wrapping tip is to set yourself up at the ironing board. Put the Sellotape and scissors et al on the iron rest, and use the board to wrap on. It's the right height so you don't do your back in, and you can get all the way around the present for neat wrapping. It makes wrapping big presents much easier, and saves you lots of time with the little ones.”

Some extra help keeping children and teens entertained on Christmas day…

Related: the best board games to keep your family arguing entertained this Christmas.

And an extra bit of advice for keeping on top of everything…

A good Christmas planner can take away a lot of stress and help you get organized in advance.

“I love my Cath Kidston organiser! It's just so christmas-y, and lets me get all controlling without bothering anyone.”

“Buy a Christmas planner, I find mine super helpful for keeping me organized so that I don't forget things until the last minute and then get stressed.”

“I have the Cath Kidston Christmas Organiser, which I got from Amazon about three years ago. It has lots of different sections: presents, recipes, addresses for cards, and I just add to each year after year. I love it and I can't wait to look back on it when my children are all grown up and remember all the things we did to make it magical for them.”

“I've recently bought the Busy B one and can't wait to start filling it in!”

You can download our printable checklist here

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