After years of sharing snippets of advice on Instragram, I’ve finally compiled my top tips for a stress-free, magical Christmas. Although this is a much requested post, I’m having a bit of a wobble about publishing it. I think it’s hard to write about being organised without sounding, well… a bit smug. Especially during a global pandemic when we’re all facing a Christmas unlike any other.

But the truth is, I’m good at this stuff. I’m very organised and methodical. I love lists and plans and finding clever ways to simplify and make my life easier. More than this, I love sharing what I’ve learned in the hope it will help someone else feel less overwhelmed and more in control.

Start Early

If I were a better blogger, I’d have published this post in September because that’s when I start prepping for Christmas. I know some people will be horrified at the thought, but I’m not suggesting you put the tree up or start listening to Michael Bublé before Bonfire Night.

I start early so I can work through my to-do list slowly and intentionally. My aim is always to have everything done by the end of November, so I can savour and enjoy the festive season with my family.

Starting early also allows me to spread the cost and focus on shopping small. This year in particular, independent businesses are encouraging customers to leave plenty of time for delivery. Handmade items and personalised gifts often have a longer lead time too. Don’t get me wrong, Amazon Prime is handy in a fix {and I’m not saying I don’t shop there at all}, but I want the bulk of my money to go to small, creative business owners just like me.

Christmas pinwheel decorations

Do A Few Things Each Week

In previous years, I’ve followed The Organised Mum’s Organised Christmas. The weekly prompts are an excellent starting point and I still refer to them now. Although I adapt things to suit my needs, the principle is solid – complete a few small tasks each week for 12 weeks from the beginning of September to the end of November.

Don’t worry if you’re starting later than you’d like. If you set aside some time to catch up now, you’ll still be able to take it easy in December.

Fill Your Freezer

Food is my favourite thing about Christmas. I love cooking and eating, but I don’t want to spend all my time in the kitchen, especially if the rest of my family are chilling out and having fun. Filling the freezer in advance allows me to feel like a domestic goddess without spending Christmas chained to the oven.

I shared a detailed Christmas meal plan way back in 2015 and not much has changed since. I still reach for the same recipes year after year, so the things we eat and the meals we share have become family traditions in their own right.

Here’s a list of everything I’m hoping to make ahead in the next few weeks with a link to the recipe if it’s online…

Chrsitmas Wreath

My Christmas To-Do List, Month By Month

Most of the things listed below don’t take very long at all, but once completed they free up masses of head space. Although you’ll probably need to edit or add tasks to accommodate your own traditions and rituals, I hope this list is helpful.

  • September

Research and book any Christmas experiences. Think panto tickets, wreath making workshops, and trips to see Father Christmas.

Order gift wrapping supplies and stamps for Christmas cards.

Declutter and donate to make space for the inevitable influx of books, toys and games.

Make a list of the gifts you need to buy and decide on a budget for each one. Don’t forget little extras like stocking fillers and Christmas Eve boxes.

Dig out the decorations and decide whether you want to add anything to your collection. Check lights are working and replace if not.

  • October

Start shopping for gifts. There’s no rush, so you should be able to do a little each week. Remember to wrap and label as you go! Consider purchasing a few ‘emergency gifts’ too {e.g. a generic bottle of wine, chocolates or scented tealights}. There’s usually someone who gives you a gift you weren’t expecting, so it’s nice to have something on hand to reciprocate.

Purchase advent calendars or the supplies you need to craft your own.

Keep an eye out for your preferred supermarket’s Christmas online delivery slots and grab one if you need it.

Start planning your Christmas meals and decide what to cook and freeze ahead.

Compile a grocery list and do a quick cupboard audit to ensure you’re not doubling up on any ingredients. Once I know what I need, I start adding a few festive items to my weekly shop.

If you enjoy a fresh cut and a Christmas mani as much as me, book your hair and beauty appointments for the rest of the year.

  • November

Finalise your grocery list and complete your online food shop. If there are other food items you need to order or collect, make a list and set reminders. I’d recommened storing your menus, plans and lists safely from one year to the next. You can save masses of time by using them as a template or guide.

Start cooking for the freezer. I like to set aside a couple of evenings and at least one Sunday afternoon for festive food prep. I love listening to Nigel Slater’s Christmas Chronicles while I potter.

Buy your Christmas cards and write them.

Check the postal dates for any overseas cards and gifts and make a note of when you need to send them.

Stock up on essentials like batteries, lightbulbs and candles, order any prescription meds and make sure your first aid kit has plenty of plasters and paracetamol.

Order a Christmas wreath or make your own.

Plan your Christmas table decor and purchase any supplies you’ll need.

Finish shopping for gifts. Make sure everything is wrapped, labelled and well hidden by the end of the month.

  • December

Hopefully, you’re almost done! Post your Christmas cards on Dec 1st, put the decs up when you’re ready and enjoy all your usual family traditions.

With the grunt work complete, I find I have more time and energy for things I really enjoy like baking and {when we’re not dealing with a global pandemic} socialising with friends and family.

  • Do Less

A final word of advice – give yourself a break. It’s easy to pile on the pressure and end up with too much to do. Pretty pictures on Pinterest and Instagram can make us feel like everything has to be perfect. The décor, the food, the Elf on the Shelf, the handmade advent calendar and the Christmas wreath. But ‘making memories’ and ‘creating magic’ shouldn’t be a source of extreme stress and overwhelm. Not when simply curling up on the sofa in front of Home Alone feels FESTIVE AF. So, do less and know it will be enough.

Love Audrey xxx

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