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How to Plan Christmas: Your Ultimate Guide

How to Plan Christmas: Your Ultimate Guide

It’s that time of year again, Christmas is on the horizon which can send us into a spin! There’s so much to consider when you’re trying to create the perfect festive season for you and your loved ones. Cards, decorations, Christmas gifts, parties, entertainment and that all important dinner can end up being a stressful load to bear.

There’s also always that one friend or family member who’s as calm as can be (some might even call them smug, but we’re not pointing any fingers!) They have everything under control whilst you’re still tearing your hair out. So, what’s their secret? It’s simple. Planning.

Yep, we hear you. Planning sounds just like even more work. But if you take a little time to plan ahead, Christmas will go much more smoothly. Knowing you’ve got all the essentials wrapped up (pun intended!) will allow you to relax and enjoy the season too. So how do you get started? Here’s our ultimate guide on how to plan Christmas.

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Your Giving Plan: Christmas Cards & Gifts

Being able to give to your loved ones at Christmas is a joy, but choosing the right gifts, budgeting and shopping can all be sources of stress. Plan ahead, be realistic about your budget and stick to it.

Christmas Cards


Sending Christmas cards isn’t as commonplace as it used to be, but it’s still a lovely tradition for those who like to uphold it. Perhaps you send cards to your nearest and dearest, or maybe you like to drop a line to those who live far away. Either way, sending cards takes some planning as you need to post them in good time. Make a list as early as possible and write a few each day until your cards are complete. This will avoid a last-minute rush. Post in early December (earlier of you’re sending them abroad) and receiving your cards will help give loved ones a sense of Christmas cheer.

Christmas Presents


Start by creating a gift list, including everyone you need to buy for and any ideas you have on what they might like. Always keep this with you so you can keep it up to date whilst shopping, or when any ideas crop up. Creating the list on your phone is a great way to do this.

  • Budget first: once you have a full list of people to buy for, create a budget. This will help you stay in control of festive spending which can be another source of stress.
  • Prioritise your list: who will you need to send gifts to in the post? Who will you need to drop off or deliver gifts to before the big day? Try to tackle these first so they can be wrapped and ready.
  • Buying: try to hit the shops armed with ideas so you can make the most of your time. If Christmas shopping isn’t your thing, buy online. Keep an eye out for offers and discounts which could help you get the gift they’d really love at a price that works for you.
  • Wrapping: once you’ve bought someone’s gift, wrap it, label it and put it away. This will avoid the last-minute wrapping panic, and help you mentally tick them off as complete.

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Your Decorating Plan

Christmas Tree Decorations

Christmas decorations help set the festive mood and prepare your home for the season. If you really want to embrace the festive spirit, getting your house decorated early will allow you to enjoy your Christmas décor for as long as possible.

  • Choose a colour scheme: if you’re starting from scratch, decide on your colour scheme before buying or making any decorations. Colour co-ordinating will make sure the whole theme hangs together.
  • Buy or check lights: lights usually play a central part in Christmas decoration. Get yours early, or check last years are working before you are planning to decorate.
  • Buy/assemble tree: don’t leave it too late to buy a real Christmas tree or your choice will be limited. If you prefer an artificial tree, get it out and assemble it in advance to make sure it’s still in good condition.
  • Forage for greenery: add that finishing touch with some holly, ivy or mistletoe.
  • Gifts: if you’ve wrapped your gifts nice and early, you could also use these as decorations around the house or underneath the tree.
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Your Entertaining Plan: Dinner and Parties

Dinner & Parties

On the big day itself, you want to make sure you get the food and entertainment just right. Thinking it through, planning and preparing in advance will help you to enjoy the day even if you are hosting.

Christmas Dinner

For many of us, Christmas dinner is a huge part of the day and it’s important to get it just right. This can result in a lot of pressure if you’re the one doing the cooking. Once again, the best way to make sure things go smoothly is to plan and prepare.

  • Make a list: start by thinking through your meal and listing everything you’re going to need.
  • Do a test run: use your list to buy the necessary supplies and do a test meal. This way you’ll immediately know if you’ve missed anything of the list. You can also perfect your cooking skills and enjoy an extra Christmas dinner! Yum!
  • Buy or order items early where possible: stock up on anything that won’t go off early. This saves you doing a huge shop too close to Christmas and avoids missing out on items that might sell out. You might also choose to order your chosen meat and other items if you’re entertaining a large group.
  • Cook to freeze: think about whether you can cook any elements of your meal in advance and freeze them to save you time on the day. Just don’t forget to defrost!
  • Plan your shop: fresh items, like those all-important brussel sprouts will need to be purchased close to the day itself to retain freshness. Give some thought to when you’ll do this shop. Don’t leave it to the very last minute as festive items might sell out.
  • Plan cooking timings: list your timings for the day. When do you need to cook the meat, what time do other trimmings need to go in the oven? This will help you get dinner on the table for a reasonable time.
  • Prepare the night before: any preparation you can do beforehand will help the day run more smoothly. Peeling and chopping veg, setting the table or preparing a starter or dessert will buy you valuable time with family or guests on the big day itself.
  • Enlist some help: don’t try to go it alone! Everyone who has cooked a Christmas dinner understands how challenging it can be. Delegate certain tasks as and when you can so you know they’re under control.

Games and Entertainment:

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to decide what to do after dinner if everyone has different ideas. Give this some thought beforehand so you can steer your guests or family into a fun activity that everyone will enjoy.

  • Plan your games: think about your guests and consider games that everyone will enjoy. Prepare any necessary supplies, or make sure board games are easily accessible so everything runs smoothly on the day.
  • Check the TV schedule: perhaps games aren’t your thing, and you’d rather cuddle up on the sofa watching some Christmas specials. Although you can catch most things on demand these days, there’s something nice about watching your favourite festive specials when they’re scheduled. Check out what you want to watch and make a note of the timings that suit your day.

Planning Christmas might seem like a chore, but you’ll be glad you put in the legwork when you’re enjoying all the festive season has to offer, stress free! All those parties and family days out will be so much more enjoyable when you know you’ve got Christmas under control. Make your plan today and perhaps you could enjoy your best festive season yet!

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