A guide to stress-free festive planning
As the shops start stacking decorations and selection boxes, and our heads become flooded with gift ideas and festive menus options, it got us all wondering - when is the best time to start planning for Christmas? To help answer this question, we welcome our first guest blogger; PR professional Culaina Tranter. Culaina tells us why now is the best time to start planning in order to avoid Christmas becoming the ‘festival of chaos’ and how she uses her journal to keep things running as smoothly as possible.
Take it away Culaina…
Growing up in a fairly regimented house, my first Christmas living away from home was quite the opposite of organised! In fact, it was a festival of chaos! Having only moved into our first home a few months before, my partner and I seriously underestimated the preparation and organisation that goes into the grand event. To start with, we didn’t have a single decoration nor mastered the seasonal culinary skills required. Never the less, we thought it would be a great idea to host our first Christmas Day in our home, for the whole family! I think the excitement got the better of us!
After a wonderful (and suitably celebratory!) Christmas Eve at our local pub, it is safe to say I was a man down come Christmas Day - my partner spending most of the time hiding with a sore head until an hour before everyone arrived. And when I say everyone, I’m talking about the 14 family members we thought we could squeeze into the narrow living room in our new flat!
Many of you may not like to think ahead more than a month, let alone start planning Christmas before December starts! But the truth is, planning early can save you a lot of stress and make space for some much needed relaxation time. You can save yourself money, too!
Have a Master List
These days, when I’m planning for the Christmas period (even if I’m not hosting), I like to start with what I call my “master list”, essentially a brain-dump of everything that needs to be done. From here, I can then start to organise this into smaller, more specific lists according to topic and add this to my journal. Typically these include;
…and everything else in-between.
Gift buying and budgeting
With a large family to buy for, I think gift buying has to be my most challenging task every year. I want each gift to really mean something to that individual, so getting this right takes preparation. To give me a head start I write a list of everyone who we need to buy for, a gift idea and a budget. I’m a sucker for overspending and I would buy every gift I saw if I could, so setting this and sticking to it saves us a lot of money and stress (and helps filter out the less ‘sensible’ ideas). Writing an idea down also helps take away the pain of the many shopping trips you need to make; you can look at what to buy online and where you need to go shopping for the rest.
I find it much easier this way rather than hitting the shops and having no clue what to get anyone. And Christmas is all about the suspense of unwrapping a gift to see what’s inside, so gift vouchers just don’t cut it for me! The key to saving here, really is to stick to your budget and not to spend those savings you made on even more presents.
Don’t forget yourself!
It’s also a great idea to create your own list of things you need or want. Every year family members will ask you what you want, and the answer is often: “I don’t know”. By having a couple of small wish lists you can pass on to different groups of the family will help give them some inspiration and hopefully, you some gifts you actually need!
Time is always tight
The planning section of my journal will also contain a super organised time schedule for the festive period. Santa doesn’t just wing it every year, so we don’t either. From Christmas Eve to New Years, it’s important to plan our time to ensure we visit all of our family, spend time with friends as well as relax and enjoy some great food.
Finally, here are my top five tips to help you own Christmas this year…
Happy festive planning!
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This week we look at some simple techniques to help us step out of our digital bubbles using journaling and other writing techniques. No computers, phones or tablets; just you and your stationery.