With only two weeks left to Christmas, I’m in a flurry of preparation. Here are five simple tips that I’ve discovered to help you prepare for a stress-less Christmas season. These forward planning tips can help to eliminate last minute glitches and get your holiday off to a smooth start.
- Have spares on hand. Just like the Scouts, “be prepared”. Have extra essentials on hand: batteries, xmas light bulbs, camera memory cards (or film). Take time to review your holiday gifts an make sure you have the right size batteries on hand. Check your gaming equipment and stock up on rechargeable batteries. Ensure you have off-loaded all the pictures in your camera and will be ready to capture those candid holiday moments.
- Test your lights ahead of time. Do your tree and lights go up at the beginning of December or on Christmas Eve? I have learned the hard way, that before you put up all those external decorations, (especially the ones that have you climbing a ladder), that you should plug them in and test that they are working as your very first step. If Santa brings your Christmas tree, be sure to remind Santa to please test the lights at the North Pole before loading the tree onto the sleigh, because there won’t be any stores open on Christmas Eve in your neighbourhood where he can get spare bulbs or new strings of lights!
- Have a few generic presents on hand. Have one or two small generic presents wrapped and ready, for those people who give you an unexpected gift or someone you forgot (even though your list was exhaustive!). You can choose virtually anything; a small value gift card, note paper, a humorous book or a card game. The idea is to have something that can be enjoyed by either sex, young or old. I have been caught out several times by last minute gift exchanges at work and club meetings, or even by a thoughtful neighbour. Having a wrapped gift ready means you never have to be surprised by someone’s generosity and are always ready to reciprocate.
- Try all recipes in advance: Many a holiday dinner gets served late because the ambitious cook was trying a new recipe that didn’t quite work as planned. Give all new recipes a dry run, to ensure you know how long it will take to create the dish and to ensure the flavour is satisfactory. Remember to keep everything as simple as possible to reduce stress.
- Cheat on the home-made goodies. I love home-made goodies at the holiday and many of my childhood memories of the holidays revolve around baking with my Mother. But if you are short of time here’s a quick trick. Buy the best brand of plain items such as mince pies or cookies, and then frost and decorate them yourself. A simple icing and some coloured sugar can make a plain cookie into a something that looks like you slaved for days.