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The countdown is on: how to have your best Christmas ever!

food, how to, the countdown is on: how to have your best christmas ever!

Organise Christmas like a pro

Hoping for an organised Christmas this year? From being a Christmas culinary connoisseur to a festive decorating diva, keeping on top of everything that comes with the Yuletide season can be alarming. But by planning and tackling small tasks each day, you can take the stress out of the holidays. Check out these Christmas countdown ideas that will organise your home for the festivities before you can say “holidays are coming”.

food, how to, the countdown is on: how to have your best christmas ever!

Have a pre-Christmas clean

A good declutter and clean before you begin your Christmas decorating and organising will set a president and foundation for a well-coordinated Christmas from start to finish. Start by deep cleaning your main rooms from top to bottom, then assess spaces to see if any furniture needs to be moved or stored away to make space for the tree and decorations to be displayed.

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Stir up Christmas desserts

Due to its rich fruit sponge, a Christmas cake can be made and stored up to three months before Christmas. Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson advises wrapping it tightly in a double layer of greaseproof paper or baking parchment, followed by a double layer of foil and then storing it in an airtight container or tin in a cool place away from direct sunlight. Icing can be added between 24 hrs and a week before the big day. Christmas puddings are traditionally made on ‘Stir-up Sunday’, which is the Sunday before the start of Advent.

food, how to, the countdown is on: how to have your best christmas ever!

Send out Christmas cards early

If you are a whizz on the computer start a Christmas card mailing list to ‘mail merge’ address labels or send out a Christmas family e-newsletter. As Christmas card writing is becoming a vintage art, why not make an effort with just a few handmade cards sent to just a select few in plenty of time. Check mail websites for last Christmas post dates for the UK and abroad.

food, how to, the countdown is on: how to have your best christmas ever!

Make room in the kitchen

Pay attention to the kitchen as it will be at the heart of Christmas feast-making. Clear out food cupboards and stores to make room for festive goodies and donate to a local food bank. Make sure the oven is clean and working well; the last thing you need is a broken cooker on Christmas Day. Then declutter your work surfaces, to make sure there’s plenty of room for food prep. Could the smoothy maker be put away until the January health-kick begins?

food, how to, the countdown is on: how to have your best christmas ever!

Do a toy cull

As Santa is busy filling his sleigh with all those toys for the big drop why not make room in the children’s bedrooms? That way the big man can get through the door without having to do an obstacle course over the Lego and through all the stuffed animals. Children often find it hard to let go of belongs so the thought of donating outgrown toys to others who are less fortunate at Christmas is a great life lesson and incentive.

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Pre-order the turkey

What’s a Christmas dinner without a delicious turkey with all the trimmings? Be sure to order yours in good time. You can purchase a fresh turkey from store and keep it refrigerated a few days before Christmas. But, to guarantee a bird it’s best to order beforehand for delivery or collections. Online bookings usually open around mid-November, so put a reminder in your diary. The same applies for main Christmas grocery deliveries, it’s best to book in early, as slots book up fast.

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Order the new sofa for Christmas delivery

If a brand new sofa is top of your list to Santa this year make sure he doesn’t disappoint by putting your order in by at least mid-November. Check individual retailers as each will have its own Christmas delivery deadline.

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Take a Christmas craft class

Invest your downtime in Christmas by booking festive craft classes. Knowing how to DIY your way through the holidays can save money and time in the long run too. Start looking in October for wreath making, bauble decorating and gift making to name a few. If time is short there are so many virtual courses available now, too.

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Countdown with an advent calendar

Advent marks the official beginning of Christmas and starts four Sundays before Christmas day. Make sure you have yours in good time or use a wooden version that can be filled each year with all sorts of treats, not just chocolate. Why not make it super personal by getting creative and building your own DIY advent calendar out of 24 matchboxes and painted balsa wood?

food, how to, the countdown is on: how to have your best christmas ever!

Plan Christmas activities

Children make up a huge part of Christmas and often have a lot of activities to attend and be a part of at this time of year. Make sure you have the school nativities, Pantomimes, Santa visits and family events all marked on the calendar and you have scheduled time for them all. Elf on the Shelf also has a busy schedule during December so be sure you have ideas to keep him busy every day!

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Buy the tree

Whether you go faux or real, the Christmas tree really is the star of the show. But if you’re someone who loves to enjoy a real tree for as long as possible a Nordmann fir is a good option, as it has good needle retention. When buying a pre-cut tree, it’s important to check its freshness. Drop the tree onto its base from one foot above the ground. Needles on a healthy tree shouldn’t fall off. And once you get your tree home, trim an inch off the trunk and place in a stand or pot, and make sure you keep the water topped up daily, and site away from heat sources!

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Pick out the Christmas homeware

Christmas bedding, festive PJs and holiday accessories of every kind and are all in high demand these days. Don’t spoil your Christmas Instagram feed by waiting until they’ve sold out. Go shopping or get your online orders in early.

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Write down a decorating to-do list

Draw up a decorating schedule. List where and what you want to be decorated (including outside). Start a new tradition by including family for certain jobs such as holding a Christmas light reveal and hot chocolate night, or a tree decorating and dance afternoon with fun Christmas music.

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Update the ornaments

Give your Christmas decorations box an MOT in October or early November. Decide what needs updating or replenishing as you can be sure new trends will already be in the shops at this time to refresh your look. Throw out any broken baubles and drop off what you’ve grown tired of to the local charity shops in good time for their Christmas rush.

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Check the Christmas lights

Whilst checking your Christmas baubles now is the time to troubleshoot the holiday lights for both inside and out. Unravel the strings and plug them into a socket to make sure there are no blown bulbs and your Christmas lights will shine through another season. Do the same with outdoor figures as you don’t want your enchanting display to be left in the dark.

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Book the pet groomer

Don’t let the delicious Christmas aromas such as gingerbread, pine needles, eucalyptus, oranges and cloves be overtaken by a whiffy pet. These days a dog groomer’s schedule can get booked up quicker than Vidal Sassoon’s celebrity books. Book your pooch’s Christmas clean and clip well in advance to avoid disappointment.

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Consider Christmas kerb appeal

Welcome guests with a festive front door that looks like it belongs on a Christmas card. Give it a good wash down or even a new coat of paint. Hang a pretty door wreath, add mini firs on either side, hang pine cones on ribbons from hooks and place lanterns at different levels for ambience. Also, fake presents stuffed in Wellington boots look idyllic, too.

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Create a garden grotto

As gardens are becoming an extension of our homes these days, get outside and give your outdoor room a festive tidy and spruce up to create your very own winter wonderland. Place potted evergreens around a sheltered garden table, then, make it crisp and cosy with plenty of warm blankets for guests. Spread the magic with plenty of twinkling Christmas lights to gather under whilst drinking mulled wine or sipping hot chocolate.

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Mock up the Christmas table

Plan for Christmas dinner guests early. Confirm numbers and pick out a menu and practice the dishes if you feel nervous. Set up the table beforehand to ensure each guest will have enough elbow room. If you can, save time by setting the table a day or two before the big day.

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Keep on top of wrapping

Shop for materials in good time. A good trick is to shop for Christmas wrapping in the January sales as the prices are slashed to almost pennies. Then store away until the festive season begins. Or, be an eco queen by being careful when unwrapping in order to reuse the paper next year. Stick to a colour scheme that suits your decorations, for total coordination. Don’t leave wrapping until the last minute either – try to wrap a couple of gifts each day in the run-up to the day.

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Pretty up the guest room

Ready the guest room for Christmas visitors. Change the bedding for freshly laundered festive motif duvets covers, and make it even more special by adding festive touches such as garlands on the headboard and cute ornaments on the bedside table. Why not even pop a welcome mint in a little Christmas box on the pillow?

food, how to, the countdown is on: how to have your best christmas ever!

Spruce up the bathroom

With Christmas guests coming and going your bathroom needs to be in a good state for Christmas. Survey the room for leaks and any needed paint or grout touch-ups. Make room for new stocking fillers by clearing out old and almost empty toiletries. Then, deep clean until it sparkles like a winter wonderland and swap out the usual towels for fun festive versions.

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Stock up the bar

As well as food, drinks are a key part of entertaining and enjoying Christmas. Make sure your refreshment cupboard is brimming with the usual tipples and festive flavours of the season. Why not keep a drinks trolley out on display with your prettiest bottles and opulent glassware for a touch of Christmas glamour.

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Be games room ready

Plan the Christmas entertainment in advance for a fun-filled holiday. Ask family to bring favourite board games in advance. Go online to download Christmas bingo card printables and Christmas quizzes, wrap up a festive themed ‘pass the parcel’ and make ice-breaker question cards for the Christmas table.

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Bake up a Christmas storm

Spend weekend afternoons in the run-up to Christmas making mince pies and seasonal cookies. Make separate batches for decorating, gifting and of course eating. Keep festive cookie cutters and chocolate moulds stored with the decorations. That way each year it becomes part of the Christmas countdown ritual.

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Build up a candle supply

Nothing creates a cosy and traditional Christmas vibe than ambient candle light at Christmastime. Whether you opt for the real thing or prefer faux versions make sure you have a good go-to stock in all shapes and delicious seasonal fragrances to last the whole holiday period.

food, how to, the countdown is on: how to have your best christmas ever!

Indulge in a Christmas Eve box

Break the anticipation for Christmas day by organising a Christmas Eve box in good time that avoids adding to the Christmas workload. It can be as simple as a wrapped shoebox or a more elaborate version that’s personalised. Collect goodies early on and squirrel them away until Christmas Eve such as pyjamas, hot chocolate, gingerbread men, and something to give Santa’s reindeer.

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