When you really stop and think about it, Christmas is a big deal.
Often involving large numbers of people, tonnes of food, sacks full of presents and lots of potential for disaster, it’s no wonder it takes a lot to pull together.
Organising Christmas can feel like a herculean task, which is why we like to break it up a little bit. We use a Christmas checklist to ensure that we’re getting everything done, with enough time to avoid stress. If you haven’t got your own checklist, consider this your starting point!
Three To Six Months Before Christmas:
Figure Out What You’re Doing:
As a family, now is the time to figure out just what you’re doing for Christmas. Are you going to your in-law’s house? Or will everyone be coming to your house? Sit down and figure out what is going on, who will be where, and some dates.
You’ll need exact dates because now is the time to:
Book Accommodation and Transport:
Whether it’s a plane, train or rental car, Christmas is a busy time. If your family are travelling for Christmas, think seriously about booking your transport now to ensure you aren’t stung with crazy prices, or left without a ticket due to the crowds. Also seeing this is the busiest time of year, you want to book your accommodation pretty quickly. If you are travelling with kids, consider staying at an AirBnB instead of a hotel, you get more room and the comforts of home for less money!
Start Thinking About What the Kids Might Want
Kids change their mind as often as they change their underwear… But if they do start mentioning things that they may love for Christmas, start making a note so that if you happen to see it on sale – you can take advantage and grab it and stash it for Christmas!
Two Months Before Christmas
Start Baking Freeze-Friendly Food:
If slaving over an oven isn’t your idea of a great Christmas, why not start a bit earlier? You can start baking certain freezer-friendly foods as much as two months before. Foods like un-iced biscuits, cakes, chocolate truffles, and breads all keep well if wrapped. If you want to go even further, try doing Once a Month Cooking! It not only saves you loads of time, it saves you lots of money and in fact the hard copy books makes for an AMAZING great Christmas Gift!
Get Your Calendar Sorted:
Christmas gets busy quickly, and if you have kids, there are always a range of events that need to be remembered. The best way to ensure you don’t forget a pageant or party is to get a calendar and pop it up on the fridge, with all your events written in.
Lock In Your Overnighters:
If people have expressed interest in staying overnight at your place over Christmas, now is the time to lock these people in. You want to make sure you haven’t over-promised for space you don’t have. At this point, it’s also a good idea to think about what you need for those guests in terms of replacing pillows, sheets, towels and so on. Spread the cost out so it’s not a hit all at once!
Six Weeks Before Christmas
Discuss Gifts With Family:
If you come from a large family, and you’re on a budget, now is the time to discuss how presents will be handled. Either settle on a maximum value, or opt for a Secret Santa, to ensure you aren’t pressured into blowing out your budget. Be festive, but honest.
Sort The Budget:
Before you really get into buying things, you need to sit down and sort out your budget. At this point, you should already have spoken to family about how gifts will be handled. Set aside a firm value you’ll spend on gifts overall, as well as per person, and make sure you also put money aside for decorations, the tree, wrapping paper, food, alcohol and miscellaneous items.
Get Your Cards And Wrapping Paper:
Most shops have already put out gift tags, Christmas cards and wrapping paper at this point. Stocking up early ensures you get the best choice, and these items are easily stored.
Make Your Gift List:
A master gift list is a must at this time, even if it’s just a few ideas. When you have a gift list, it’s easy to keep your eye open when you’re out and about, particularly if you have a large number of gifts to buy. The gift list also ensures you have time to complete any homemade gifts.
Order Your Ham:
The best hams are always gone first – so get in and order yours in advance!
Get Online Shopping Done:
Online shops, particularly smaller ones, get overwhelmed at Christmas. So, if you’ve been eyeing something you definitely want make sure you order it now. This gives time for the shop to get it to you, taking into account busy schedules as well as postage!
One Month Before Christmas
Start Making Shopping Trips:
About one month before Christmas is the time to start getting out into shops and picking up your Christmas gifts that you can get delivered online. Make sure you have your list with you and stick to your budget!
Wrap Gifts As They’re Bought:
Some people like to wrap gifts all at once, but that can be super time consuming and exhausting. We prefer to wrap gifts as we buy them, which is faster in our eyes and also means we don’t have to put as much effort into hiding them. Make sure they’re well labelled!
Figure Out Your Decorations:
For those planning on decorating their home and their tree, now is the time to take stock of the decorations you have on hand. If there were things broken last year, or things you want to add to your collection, this is the time to do it. Any later and your choice of decorations is much more limited.
Start Putting Together the Kids’ Christmas Eve Boxes
Christmas Eve Boxes are more popular than ever and they are a great way to get the kids into the Christmas excitement. Think of them as a preparation box for Christmas Day.
Some great items to include are:
- New pair of Christmas Pyjamas
- A Christmas Story Book
- Reindeer Food
Count Up Your Crockery:
If you’re hosting any meals or Christmas events at your home, it’s always a good idea to ensure you have enough crockery (as well as chairs and table space) to accommodate your guests. Pay attention to plates, bowls, cups and cutlery, as well as serving platters, serving utensils etc.
Get Advent Calendars:
Parents with kids, you know your little ones (and bigger ones) are going to use their advent calendar, so make sure you have them by the time December 1 rolls around. These are a super cute way for kids to countdown to Christmas!
Three Weeks Before Christmas
Get The Christmas Tree Up:
Now that December has started, it’s time to get that Christmas tree up! Remember to give it a vacuum if it has been in storage, otherwise there might be spiders and webs in with your tinsel. Also don’t forget, lights go on first, then everything else is layered on top!
Decorate Your Home:
When the Christmas tree is getting decorated, the house can be decorated as well. Remember to use home-friendly methods of sticking decorations to your walls to avoid paint damage. If you’re doing a light set-up outside, you’ll want to be getting that up too!
Order Your Main Meat:
If you buy from your local butcher, and some supermarkets also allow this, now is the time to order the centrepiece meat for your family’s Christmas feast. This is particularly true if you’re cooking a turkey or you want a Christmas ham, both items which are popular and often sell out.
Finish Menus, Start Shopping List:
About three weeks before Christmas day, you should have already figured out exactly what you want to be serving on the day. So, write your ingredients out and start your shopping list. Separate the list into fresh foods and staple foods, as foods that keep can be purchased more in advance.
Two Weeks Before Christmas
If you’re sending out any kind of presents in the mail, you’ll want to get those mailed out by this point at the latest. Post in Australia is known to be slow, so if you don’t want to spend more on postage, don’t be late!
Shop For Pantry Items:
Your grocery list should be well and truly complete by now, so head out and get your pantry items all ready. To save yourself some more time and effort, get your pantry items in an online shop and have it delivered. These are often heavy, so it saves you from having to lug them yourself. Also buy your Christmas alcohol at this time.
One Week Before Christmas
Give The House A Clean:
One week before Santa comes to visit, you want to make sure your house is looking sparkling for him. Enlist your family and give your home a deep-clean, one room at a time.
Go through your master gift list and make sure nobody has been forgotten. If they have, get all the last-minute purchases done at least one week before Christmas to avoid those stressful Christmas Eve crowds!
Get Batteries For Toys:
If you’ve purchased any battery-powered toys, or your kids are of an age where they tend to get a lot of those kind of toys, stock up on batteries of common sizes a week before. Set them aside for when presents get unwrapped so kids can play right away!
Two Days Before Christmas
Do Your Fresh Food Shop:
Two days before Christmas, it’s time to get all your fresh food done, as well as any pantry items you forgot in your first big shop. While it can be handy to shop online for Christmas, there’s no substitute for choosing your own fresh foods, particularly meats and produce, to match the recipes that you have in mind.
Have a look at your menu and think carefully about what can be cooked a few days before Christmas that will keep well. Now might be the time to take things out of the freezer to defrost, particularly if they’re larger than normal.
Prep Food For Tomorrow:
Christmas eve can be the perfect time to prepare the foods you’re cooking for Christmas. This includes chopping some of your vegetables, marinating any meats and so on. Just think about what will save you time when you’re rushing about tomorrow! Also, anything that can be cooked or set up (platters etc) on Christmas Eve, do it!
Recharge Camera Batteries:
You know you’re going to take photographs on Christmas day when your kids are having a great time and all the family is there, so make sure your camera is charged and your memory cards have loads of space!
Sort Your Cooking Timetable:
If you have a lot of people to cater for and only one oven, you’ll need to think about a cooking timetable. Think about foods that are served warm and fresh, which will therefore need to be cooked closer to the meal actually being served. Other foods, like salads and cold platters, can all be done in the morning. Remember to get help from the family, you’re not a slave!
Your organisation will pay off when you start cooking on Christmas day. Use your cooking timetable, get all your ingredients sorted, and cook up an amazing Christmas storm. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself while you’re at it!
Once you’ve done all the hard work, when Christmas rolls around you can sit back, relax, and celebrate. Spend time with your family. Stuff your face with goodies. Have one too many of everything. Sleep it off, and get excited to do it all again next year!
Here’s a printable to guide you through!