Five Things You Can Do NOW to Make Christmas 2009 a Success
It’s the summer, and Christmas is probably the last thing on your mind (unless you happen to be a magazine editor preparing for the Christmas issue...) It might seem far too early to start any preparations: but taking a little bit of time to think, plan and shop now can save you a lot of hassle, stress and even money when December rolls around.Here are five simple things you can start doing now in order to make this Christmas one of your best:
- Get Your Holiday Plans Sorted Out - Unless you have an extremely small set of relations, the Christmas period is likely to require some negotiating about who’s visiting whom. You might be the one hosting Christmas lunch, or you might be in the unfortunate position of explaining to either your mother or your mother-in-law that you won’t be able to see her on Christmas day.It’s worth clarifying holiday plans now. If there’s likely to be any tension involved (eg. if people will expect you to visit, while you want to keep as far away as possible), it’s better to face it now than in December, when emotions will inevitably run higher.If you need to book accommodation or train/plane tickets over the Christmas period, now’s a good time to start doing so.
- Put Some Money Aside -It’s a funny thing: we know that Christmas is coming, every year, and yet many of us still end up struggling to pay off credit card debt in January. If you start saving up just a few dollars a week now, the cost of Christmas won’t hit nearly so hard. Ways to make sure you really do save that money include:
Giving it in cash to a trusted friend/relative to take care of until December
Putting it into a specific bank account (though you may decide this is more hassle than it’s worth, for a small sum of savings)
Buying gift vouchers for stores which you’ll do your Christmas shopping in: this makes it much harder to spend your savings than if you kept them in cash!
- Try Out Recipes - If you’re going to be giving homemade foody treats as gifts, it’s a good idea to start trying them out now -- avoiding any last-minute disasters near Christmas day! You might need to invest in specific equipment, or perfect tricky techniques like confectionery-making or cake-decorating.For those who are hosting a meal or party over the Christmas period, practicing new recipes on guests during the summer and autumn can be a good way to check out how long you’ll need for preparation, how many people a particular dish will serve, and which foods are most popular. (Hint: You may have to think carefully about which entrees to test out: I wouldn’t recommend serving a goose with all the trimmings in the middle of a summer heatwave...)
- Keep A Gift List - When you start Christmas shopping, do you have difficulties thinking up what to get for different relatives and friends? Some people are tricky to buy for: perhaps they have few hobbies or interests, or they seem to already have everything.An easy solution to this is to jot down gift ideas all year round. Any time someone mentions a particular book, CD, home accessory, etc that they’d like, make a note of it. If your mom tells you that she loves a particular brand of toiletries, write it down. Be particularly aware of the likes and dislikes of younger family members: children do tend to go through phases, and the TV show or band that they loved a few Christmases ago has probably long-since lost their interest.Once you’ve got a list, keep an eye out for discount offers: you may be able to pick up some bargains during the summer or autumn.
- Start Preparing Craft or Personalized Gifts - It’s lovely to give personalized or crafted gifts – these really let the recipient know that you care about them, and that you’ve put thought and care into their present. But it often takes some time to prepare these gifts, and it’s worth planning ahead a bit. For example:
**If you’re making a personalized calendar, think about the shots you want to include now – especially for the summer months! (You might want to include a pic of the family barbecue, or of your kids in the pool, for instance.)
**If you like to knit or sew gifts, start thinking about what patterns and materials you’ll need.
**Plan out who’s going to receive what, and consider making yourself a schedule for when you want to start on and finish particular gifts. From personal experience, homemade gifts are a lot of fun for the giver and the recipient so long as you allow yourself enough time – leaving it till the last minute will make you feel rushed, and the finished product may well not be as good as you intended. (Last year, my granny ended up with a set of four embroidered napkins instead of six, because I ran out of thread and then out of time...!)
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