16 Jobs For Christmas Early Birds
Cruise into Christmas in a festive frame of mind by getting some Christmas chores all wrapped up in November
“Come to ours this year!” Yes, you’ve said it. Now your house will be the scene for all the feasting, merriment and frenzied activity that having Christmas at your place entails. But fear not – there are still several weeks until the chaos peaks, so don’t get caught with just days to go and too much to do. It’s surprising how many jobs you can nibble away at in November, which will give you more breathing space when December arrives. Take charge now and have a happily organised Christmas that you can actually enjoy alongside your family and friends.
1. Make a list (and check it twice)
Every successful campaign starts with a good list. Lists are the key to a silky-smooth festive season – gift lists, guest lists, menus, shopping lists, Christmas card lists and phone call lists – go list-crazy. See some practical list-making strategies to put you ahead of the game.
2. Harness the household
Get everyone involved in the excitement – and the chores. Take the pressure off yourself by delegating jobs on your lists to everyone in the household, so that the whole event becomes a family affair. Put a Christmas timetable in a central spot on a pinboard or blackboard.
3. Go online for gifts
Online shopping has changed the way we buy. Time spent at the computer in November – as early as possible given delayed postal systems) is time you’ll avoid waiting in queues come December, or driving around looking for a parking spot in crowded shopping centres. It can be a leisurely and enjoyable way to find the perfect gifts. Just remember to confirm with suppliers that your order will arrive in plenty of time, or that you can return the items if it doesn’t.
4. Wrap it up
Have you been like the wise and frugal ant in Aesop’s fable, and saved all of last year’s wrapping paper for this Christmas? If not, resolve to do it this year for next year, to save yourself time and money.
Meanwhile, as you buy gifts and your online goodies arrive, wrap them straight away to save a mammoth wrapping session the night before Christmas. Some shops offer a free gift-wrapping service, or you can check out some easy budget-friendly creative Christmas wrapping ideas.
5. Pick up a pen
Is it OK to send e-cards for Christmas? That choice is yours, but a colourful card display on a mantelpiece or cupboard adds to Christmas decor, and it’s nice to re-read them and get a rush of the warm and fuzzies from personal greetings.
With the cards, your address list and a pile of stamps handy, write two or three cards a day, starting with overseas recipients. You’ll have the job done in no time and can tick off one big task before the rush starts. After Christmas, file the cards you receive as a reference for changed addresses and news updates.
6. Make space
Extra storage is always a blessing when you have more mouths to feed. Take control of your pantry with an efficient clean-out so you have spare space for extra supplies. Clear out other spots in the house, like half-empty drawers and shelves, that can be used as temporary storage for bulky items.
TIP: Arrange to rent an extra fridge/freezer or drinks fridge from a party equipment hire company. Reserve one early, as they get inundated at this time of year. Set it up in the laundry or garage, or even under cover on a deck or terrace.
7. Confirm guest list
Have a quick ring-around to check on how many people will be flooding into your house for the Christmas period, when they’ll be arriving, how long they’ll be staying and any dietary issues and preferences.
8. Master the menu
Hit the cookbooks and plan a menu that won’t see you buried in the kitchen. Aussie-style Christmas barbecues are popular, but involve lots of fresh produce, seafood preparation and last-minute cooking. On the other hand, a roast with all the trimmings may just trump a barbecue in terms of the amount of work you have to do and how long it takes to make.
Joints of meat can be bought now and frozen, stuffing made and frozen, and sauces bought or pre-prepared. A homemade or store-bought pudding (many charities sell excellent Christmas puddings) only needs reheating and a dollop of cream or ice cream to serve on the day. Then it’s just the vegetables that need to be prepared come Christmas lunch or dinnertime. A’int that food for thought!
9. Just say ‘yes’
We love guests who offer to bring something to the party. Should one of yours suggest they bring a salad, veggie dish, nibbles, cookies or even a pudding, accept graciously and thank them profusely.
Have you considered having a Christmas potluck celebration, with friends and family contributing some of the food? They might enjoy being asked to show off their culinary skills, so let them know in advance what they should bring and plan your menu accordingly.
10. Stock the pantry
November crowds are nothing compared to December ones, and any food shopping you do now may save a frantic last-minute dash. With your menu and guest lists all sorted, buy as many list items as possible – like cooking staples, wine, beverages and anything that’s freezable – now.
Don’t forget to organise other meals as well as the main event – for instance, stock up on basics like cereals, tea and coffee for Christmas breakfast, as well as food for the following day. Hooray for supermarkets and delis with online shopping and delivery services!
11. Count your blessings – and your tableware
Do a plate, cutlery, glass and linen count and top up supplies if necessary. A friend may have spare tableware they won’t be using that you can borrow. Alternatively, charity shops sell tableware and it might be fun to have an eclectic mix of mismatched plates and cutlery. You can donate them back afterwards for resale.
TIP: For a fun twist on the Aussie tradition of ‘bring a plate’ (meaning a dish of food), why not ask guests to literally bring their own plate!
12. Tackle the tree
If you must have a ‘real’ tree, then on your own floor be it when those pine needles start to drop. There are many creative fuss-free alternatives that are available instead, so why not plan a tree with a difference? It could look great, and will make a wonderful talking point.
Tradition holds that the tree should be decorated on Christmas Eve, but you’ll be ready if you’ve amassed a stash of Christmassy bits and pieces before then. Whether you leave it until Christmas Eve or do your decorating earlier, try to schedule a family tree-decorating evening so everyone can get in on the event.
TIP: According to tradition, trees should stay up until Twelfth Night, a.k.a the fifth of January.
13. Spruce up the guest room
If overnight guests are on the cards, spiffing up the spare bedroom can be done well ahead of time. Clean sheets, towels, toiletries and all the little niceties that guests appreciate can be put in place now. Hang a no-go sign on the door until guests arrive to be sure you don’t have to worry about the space in the meantime.
If guests have their own bathroom, do a preliminary clean now, then all it will need is a quick wipe-over just before they arrive. Stock up on extras like soap and loo paper too.
14. Have a ‘Plan B’ ready
Should the skies open up and kids can’t be sent outside to run off their excess Christmas energy, prepare an emergency kit of indoor diversions to have up your sleeve, such as movies, games, books and fun painting and decorating projects.
15. Tuck them in
Make a plan for extra overnight guests – a fold-out bed, blow-up mattress or even a tent in the backyard for younger family members can serve. These can be rented or bought fairly cheaply from camping suppliers, so get your order in well ahead of time.
Check that your bedlinen supplies will cope with extra heads in beds as well. Support your local charity shops and buy extra if needed, to again be donated back for resale after Christmas.
16. Make a clean sweep
As dull and practical as it sounds, a professional cleaner the day before Christmas may be the best gift you can give yourself. Everyone gets busy this time of year, so book one now. For a real splurge, book one for the day after your last guest leaves as well, to take the extra stress off your shoulders.
Source: Houzz Janet Dunn Houzz Australia Contributor