Obviously the amount of planning required will depend on how you typically celebrate Christmas - is it a large family feast, or a small low key gathering? Perhaps it's multiple events with different groups of people? In our household we usually have a celebration with friends a week before Christmas, and then with different family groups on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Whatever Christmas looks like for you, planning ahead will avoid last minute rushing and stress, and make it all much easier and more enjoyable.
Step 1 - Write some lists
- For each event, you'll need a list of potential dates and venues, and a guest list.
- You'll also need a list of people you want to buy gifts for, and ideas of gifts to buy. (It's also a good idea to keep a list at the back of your diary or on your phone, to note gift ideas as you come across them throughout the year)
- Write a To Do list for each event. This again will depend on the scale and complexity of your events. Do you need to arrange for extra tables, chairs, and dinnerware? Do you need to plan a theme and source appropriate decorations? Do you need to plan the menu and delegate menu items to other people? Include everything on your list, even the obvious things, as we will use these lists to create a timeline in the next step. For example: Ask Mum if we can have it at her house this year; write the shopping list for the meal, do the grocery shopping; wrap the gifts... etc. Put it all on there!
Step 2 - Draw up a timeline
- Use a calendar / diary / spreadsheet - whatever works for you - to plot out the 10 weeks you have between now and Christmas. The trick here is to only use one timeline, regardless of how many events you're planning.
- Using a different colour for each event, start slotting in all the items on your To Do lists into the 10 week schedule. Doing this digitally (on your phone or computer) is an easy way to be able to move things around easily, but if you prefer a paper-based planner, try use different coloured Post-It notes (rather than writing in different coloured pens) to keep things flexible. This allows you to shuffle things around to find a schedule that's going to work, and also allows you to make adjustments if life gets in the way and things don't happen in the week they were supposed to!
- Start with the most time-sensitive activities, and then work backwards from there to slot in other things which are dependencies (for example - if you want to have all your grocery shopping done 1 week before, you will need to have your shopping list done 2 weeks before, and your meal plan and delegation done 3 weeks before).
Here is a simple example of a 10 week countdown:
10 Weeks - Write lists for venues and dates, and discuss with potential hosts. Write guest lists. Start gift ideas list (if not started already).
9 Weeks - Discuss dates, times and venues with guests and finalise.
8 Weeks - Decide on a theme and plan decorations and table setting. Write a list of requirements and delegate to guests.
7 Weeks - Arrange to borrow / hire additional furniture and dinnerware if required.
6 Weeks - Start buying gifts, wrapping paper, gift tags, and cards, as well as decorations if required.
5 Weeks - Check with guests for dietary requirements. Plan the meal and delegate ingredients or full dishes to guests.
4 Weeks - Put up the Christmas tree and decorations. Send Christmas cards via mail.
3 Weeks - Do non-perishable grocery shopping. Gift-buying should be complete by now.
2 Weeks - Wrap gifts and write cards / gift tags.
1 Week - Clean the house (and BBQ if required). Do the final grocery shopping.