Nine Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas
Anyone else get a little overwhelmed by their Christmas to do list and everything that needs to get done in December? It can’t be only us! Santa might have all year to prepare for Christmas, but most of us don’t have that luxury.
Whilst it’s a fun time of year, it can also be quite stressful as there is usually so much to organise and prepare. And, whilst we all know that the key to a relaxing festive period is an organised Christmas, this is often easier said than achieved.
However, there is a simple and very effective Christmas organiser and planner tool that could make sure the forthcoming holiday season goes off without a hitch: it’s a humble notebook; an organiser book. Take it from us, it’s the most effective Christmas planner book we know.
Imagine a place, a single place, where all your planning is contained; a Christmas planner (either b5 size or a5 journal), you can refer to during the run up to, during and after the festive period. Yes, an unassuming journal or notebook can reduce festive strain and provide a proven ‘to-do’ template for future Christmases.
Whether you choose a dot grid journal or a lined notebook, it’s a place to keep thoughts, plans, ideas and lists all in one space; a go-to Christmas Checklist to help keep you on track.
From to-do lists, budget trackers, Christmas card and gift lists to meal planners and fun festive activity ideas, there is no end to what you can include in your ultimate holiday planner book. The key is to make it your own.
All you need is:
- A beautiful, customisable journal from The Ink Pot
- Microns pen or black gelly roll Sakura
Additional, if you enjoy more colourful layouts:
- Ecoline or Tombow brush pens, or Faber Castell colouring pencils
- Festive washi tape to add fun, decorative touches
Once you have the right tools, let’s find out how you can best use them to advance through advent as calmly as possible.
Here are our top planning tips for a less stressful Christmas, using either a dot grid notebook or an a5 lined notebook Christmas organiser:
- Clear Christmas Calendar
Make a record of all relevant festive dates.
It’s such a busy time of year that keeping track of every event can sometimes be tricky.
Our calendar usually includes the following:
- Christmas tree available to buy at local garden centre
- Take decorations down from the loft and put them up
- End of term dates / times
- School nativity play
- Christmas work party
- Last day for second class post before Christmas (19th December in the UK)
- Last post before Xmas (21st December in the UK)
- Christmas food delivery day and time
- Date / time local supermarket / shop shuts before Christmas
- Christmas church service times
- Carol services
- Date to take turkey out the freezer, so it can defrost
- Last day to book hair appointment
- Date relatives come to stay / leave
- To do List
Yes, we know, the dreaded to do list! Hear us out! We aren’t advocating you detail every single chore and activity to undertake in one giant list!
We use this more as an organiser planner master checklist. The key is to keep it as simple as possible.
We like to note just the main tasks to do in December – such as buying all the presents, writing and sending the cards, putting up the tree, ordering the food etc, and then a deadline by which each activity must be done. It’s satisfying ticking off each thing as it’s completed.
- Stay on Budget
With the cost-of-living crisis, it’s becoming even more important to keep a track of festive spending. This is probably one of the biggest benefits of an Xmas planner.
How many times have you thought, “Oh just one more gift for so and so” or you simply forget what you’ve already put aside for a stocking and ended up over-buying?
It’s easy to create your own simple Christmas budget planner and organiser pages using a dot paper notebook. Remember to give yourself a strict maximum spend for every element of the Christmas period; from gifts and food to home decoration and festive events.
If you start your planner early enough during the year, you can then spread the cost over a few months. But whenever you start your festive buying, planning your purchases and noting every penny spent can help you save money because it’s a visual aid to reining in reckless splashing of the cash.
Imagine how satisfying and stress-relieving knowing you’ve staying in the black this Christmas season, meaning you can start 2023 without worrying about finances quite so much!
- Gift Lists
Compile a list of all the people you need to buy gifts for and assign a budget to each person.
- Kids' stockings
- Secret Santa
- Surprise guests
Make a note of every gift purchased. Don’t forget to buy a few extras, as last-minute presents for people you may have forgotten, or any surprise festive guests. It’s always better to be over prepared, than under!
Other reasons to keep a gift list?
- Ensure you spend equal amounts on your children, so you avoid any cries of, “You spent more on him than on me!”
- Have an aide-memoire for gift ideas and spending levels for next Christmas
- Avoid the embarrassment of buying the same present twice!
- Keep a track of your spending – see tip no.3
Finally, don’t forget to keep a list of everyone who GAVE you a present! Not only can you check off when you’ve written each thank you note, it’s also a useful way to avoid any social solecism. Now you can be prepared when Great Aunt Elizabeth drops by unexpectedly and demands to know where you put the cuckoo clock she gave you!
- Christmas card list
Don’t wing it, like usual! Instead stifle any last-minute panic and keep a definitive Christmas card list. Use it to note names of everyone who you want to send a card to and then check off when you have written and posted that card.
If you’re organised you can save money by posting your cards early, using second class stamps. Just don’t forget to note down when the last second-class stamp postage day is – see tip 1!
In addition to noting who you are sending cards to, you can also make a note of who has sent you a card. In this way, you won’t miss anyone off the list.
- Festive Food Planning
We all know, tis the season for overindulgence! One of the biggest benefits of a Christmas planner is keeping track of all your festive food and drink.
Sit down and make a list of every meal you will need to prep and how many you will be feeding.
Then detail every single ingredient that you need to buy. If you do this in advance you can spread the cost across a few shops, rather than a sole hugely expensive one. There are many ingredients that can be purchased ahead of time: from Christmas booze and drinks to cakes, pudding, crisps, sweets etc. Just remember to tick off each ingredient as you buy it, so you don’t waste money doubling up unnecessarily.
In addition to the shopping list, you can also use your planner to include favourite festive recipes, and ones to try, as well as cooking times.
It’s a guaranteed weight off your shoulders knowing you’ve ordered everything required for a festive feast, as well as not blowing the budget with unnecessary purchases.
Our last thought: don’t give in to temptation and tuck into your Christmas goodies ahead of time!
- House Preparation
We mustn’t forget the house in the run up to the big day!
Firstly, there’s the decorations. Make a list of what you already have and which rooms each decoration goes in. If you find you are missing things, you can then make judicious purchases in a more targeted and less spendthrift way.
Then there’s the issue of making sure your home is spotless, before any quests arrive. But who wants to be on their hands and knees scrubbing the floor, dusting the sitting room or polishing the kitchen cabinets on Christmas Eve, because that’s the only free window of time you have left to get these chores done?
Creating a Cleaning Checklist prevents this last-minute hell! With a good plan, that you stick to, you’ll get every onerous chore completed on schedule, which should allow you time to put your feet up for a little while instead!
- Christmas Day Plan
To prevent any last-minute disasters, create your own ‘on-the-day’ schedule, complete with detailed timings.
This should incorporate all activity you need to undertake on the day, such as getting up to put the turkey in the oven, opening stockings, church-going etc.
Don’t forget to include all relevant cooking timings – so you don’t end up eating lunch at 6pm in the evening!
- Festive Entertainment
Where would we be without the joy of good festive entertainment. Why not compile lists of all your favourites, for your reference – now and in the future.
Here are just a few of our list ideas. You can keep adding to these lists year on year too as they provide a brilliant point of reference for the whole holiday season:
- Favourite Christmas music playlist
- Funny Christmas games for all the family to play
- Best adult Christmas games
- Christmas TV programmes to watch / record
- Christmas films to watch
- Favourite Christmas traditions
- Fun Christmas quiz questions
- Favourite Christmas Carols
And that’s it! The simple joy that an a5 notebook lined, or dot gird Christmas planner and some gelly roll pens can bring when it comes to making the festive season as stress free as possible.
Design planning layouts that suit you. They don’t need to be fancy they just need to include activities that are part of your annual festive countdown. At the very least, whatever plans you decide to include in your Christmas planner, you’ll have fun researching the many holiday planner guides to find layouts to make your life easier.
Even better, our personalised dot grid journals and lined a5 paper journals, with their hardback covers and thick paper, are designed to last. This means you can create a definitive Christmas planning guide that lasts; one you can update and refer to, year on year.