That's Christmas sorted
PUBLISHED: 08:27 20 November 2013 | UPDATED: 08:27 20 November 2013
Cards written, addressed and stamped, every gift bought, decorations polished, invites for the drinks party hand-made and even New Year's Eve organised.
We all know someone who has Christmas all wrapped up about the same time as the decorations start appearing in our shops. They may be irritatingly smug, but when we’re running about the week before Christmas realising we’re too late to post that gift to America, have no idea what to get Grandad this year – let alone the teenage nephews – and all thoughts of a home-made Christmas cake and mince pies have been put on to next year’s Will Do Better list already, we’d quite like to be a little bit more like Mrs Organised.
So why not start now?
While we don’t want to be sick of the sight of glitter and glass baubles by the time we should be feeling festive in mid-December, it’s good to get the bulk of the Christmas planning out of the way so, for once, we can enjoy the fun parts of Yule nearer the time.
Even if you think it’s impossible – or just not right – to get all your Christmas prepared by December 1, how about getting at least some of the following underway?
1 Venue. Are you home or away for Christmas? Undecided? Discuss it with the family and plan so you at least know if you’re catering and if so, when and for how many. If you’re a guest, can you simply appear with a few bottles of bubbly or is a full-blown hamper of home-made goodies expected? If the family is “difficult”, invite friends too, extra faces often help others be on their best behaviour.
2 Gifts – who? Family? Friends? Children of friends? If the list is far too long, perhaps agree to buy friends gifts and not the children, or vice versa, or will this finally be the year you stop giving presents to anyone who never says thank you? Planning ahead means there’s time to arrange photos or plants as gifts. Write the list of who and, where possible, what, and when the gift needs to be handed over. That’s the tricky bit done!
3 Gifts – what? If the present is likely to come from a department store, it may be worth waiting until that
pre-Christmas sale, unless your chosen gift is likely to be in short supply and sold out. If it’s from a local business, buy or order now. Order online now too, and definitely receive in time for Christmas. Subscriptions typically take six weeks for the first issue to arrive, so buy now. Wrap up the December issue as the gift to open. And what better than a subscription to the EDP Norfolk magazine?
4 Festive food DIY. Much of this can be made in advance and frozen. So get baking to ensure plenty of proper mince pies, sausage rolls, sweet and savoury pies, casseroles and bread for the holidays. You can even get Christmas dinner underway; sauces, potatoes for roasting, spiced red cabbage – many accompaniments can be made and frozen way ahead of time.
5 Festive food to order. Plan what you need and order from your favourite butcher, greengrocer and fishmonger. Make a decent list and, along with the turkey, chipolatas and sausage meat, how about venison, a game pie mix, a fish pie mix and so on? Order well and it’ll be ready for you to collect, when you want it. There’s the feelgood factor of supporting local businesses too.
6 Post. Gifts and cards for overseas need to go in good time. For the full list of posting dates, see www.royalmail.com
7 Cards. Starting early means there’s time to make your own – at least for those who typically send you a home-made card – or have the pick of the best in the shops. Write, address, stamp, and put somewhere safe until the first week of December. Add a note to the calendar to post them, and where you’ve put them!
And for those who send last-minute festive emails or texts citing eco issues, bah humbug we say!
8 Foreign phone calls. Most call plans allow customers to add an extra tariff to give cheaper overseas calls. Organise and make a note to cancel after Christmas.
9 Panto. Tickets are out now! Book to get the seats you want.
10 Dull stuff. That’s stocking up with house essentials like spare light bulbs, tin foil, candles, matches and room freshener, plus the car’s winter service, sand for icy paths and batteries/cards/films for cameras.
11 Décor. Involve the family here, whether it’s a winter woodland walk to collect pine cones or sorting out last year’s decorations, including the lights. Look out for Christmas decoration workshops such as those at Oxburgh Hall and Peckover House (01366 328258 and 01945 583463).
12 Snow. We may get some! A quick hat, scarf, waterproof glove and sledge check means you’re ready to enjoy it.
13 Craft fairs. Perfect places for Christmas shopping with a friend. See our list for some of those on the way.
14 School. See the school calendar, there are bound to be concerts and school plays and a Christmas fair. Organise your contribution to the tombola or cake stall (bake and pop into the freezer) and if the school play means a costume, your child’s teacher will know what they need. Arrange a costume swap, someone is bound to need to borrow that toy sheep and orange curtain-cum-cloak, and they may have the white tights and leotard your little one needs.
15 Drinks. Start stocking up and why not try something different? Perhaps you’ve the first special edition St George’s malt spirit from the English Whisky Company at East Harling to enjoy, or how about a local real ale, cider or apple juice.
16 Christmas cake. Stir up Sunday, the day to traditionally make the Christmas cake and pudding this year is November 24. Check the recipe, buy the ingredients and enjoy a baking day.
17 Crackers. To have or not. We may pretend we’ve little enthusiasm for paper hats and trinkets which disappear when the table is cleared, but is it Christmas without? Buy early for a good choice, make your own, or how about table fireworks or luxury favours – wedding style but in festive colours – instead?
18 Tree. If bringing in last year’s from the garden, check it’s still alive! Acclimatise it for a couple of weeks in an unheated room or garage before watering well, leaving for another day and placing in the chosen spot.
19 Neighbours. Why not plan an early December tea and mince pies – or drinks – party? That way you’re not rushing round with the last poinsettia found on the shelf on Christmas Eve only to discover they’ve gone away. Now’s the time to ask if they can feed your cat on New Year’s Day or find out if they’re planning a raucous party.
20 New Year’s Eve. Invite yourselves to the neighbours!