The Top 5: Things to do now to make December more enjoyable

Friends, we are about to enter the silly season. As soon as the Spring Racing carnival finishes, you will be hit with invitations for end year gatherings for every friendship and social group you belong to, family functions, work and  school end of year functions, kinder break ups, book club Christmas get togethers, Christmas Carols, not to mention all the birthday parties of the gazillion children conceived over summer holidays past (myself included). In one side of our (immediate) extended family alone, we have three birthdays in December (18th, 20th and 27th thank you very much) one of which is a 70th this year.

Despite the busy-ness, I really love December – the warmer weather, catching up with all my favourite people, drinks, dinners, long lunches, BBQs and then to top it all off, my birthday on the 18th (cue more dinners and get togethers).

In order to enjoy December, I try to be very organised during October and November so I can literally enjoy all the fun December has to offer without spending my weekends running from the supermarket to the shopping centre in a sweat and with parking space rage.

I don’t want to stress anyone out and buy into the whole Christmas begins in October mentality, but I do think there are a number of things you can do now to make the next couple of months more enjoyable and less stressful for you and therefore all those people who have the good fortune of living with you! Here are my 5 tips to ensure you enjoy all December has to offer. I’ll be posting more on all things Christmas a bit later. (Below is a Cath Kidston Christmas organiser which I bought last year. Check Cath Kidston over the next few weeks for this year’s version).

Christmas Collage

1. Discuss and decide where Christmas lunch/dinner is to be held this year

Once November ticks over, it is reasonable to begin the conversation about where Christmas lunch/dinner is to be held this year. We alternate lunch and dinner each year with my husband’s family and my family so we know who we are spending each meal with, but we still need to confirm who is hosting.

If you are hosting, this means you can gradually stockpile non perishables like crackers, nuts and drinks and take advantage of specials and bulk deals and avoid a massive grocery bill in December.

It also means you can begin to think about the menu and start sourcing recipes. The Christmas editions of a lot of home and food magazines (such as Home Beautiful, Donna Hay etcetera) come out in early November and they have great menu and styling ideas and can provide a great shot of inspiration.

2. If your family does a Kris Kringle, find out/decide who you are buying for now

This way you can talk to the gift recipient about what they might like and be on the look out for great gifts without pressure. It also allows for longer delivery windows if buying online or overseas.

Also, a lot of shopping centres and stores have fantastic promotions in November which you can take advantage of if you are ready to go. Locally, Westfield Doncaster have semi regular “Little Black Book” promotions in which you can get up to 20% storewide in some shops. Last year I bought a Kitchen Aid on such a day and received 20% off, saving nearly $100.

If you do a lot of your Christmas shopping in November, can I suggest you keep all your receipts together in a designated place/envelope as you may need them if there are double ups/returns after Christmas.

3. Do an audit of your present cupboard & write a present list

If, like me, you buy bits and bobs over the year, it can be a surprise to see how much you have accumulated. Once you do an audit of what you have, you can drill down and write a list of what is left to buy. Last year, I realised I had plenty for one child, a bit for another and not much for the baby. I worked out what I needed to buy, wrote a list (as I had to pack everything away again so Santa wouldn’t get busted) and consulted it as I added items to make sure everyone got the same number and type of gifts and everything was fair.

4. Organise gifts for teachers/coaches/carers now

Each year, I buy a small thank you gift for the children’s teachers and anyone else who provides a service to us/cares for our children during the year. I often buy these sorts of gifts from Country Road – their Christmas votives, mugs and tea towels all make lovely seasonal gifts. Country Road often have spend and save promotions or 25% off storewide promotions during November and it is great to take advantage of these if you can.

Even if you intend to make your own baked gifts, now is a good time to buy gift jars, boxes, labels and the like. I want to try some gifts in a jar this year such as these by Tip Junkie via Planning With Kids.

5. Schedule a trip to IKEA for early November

As many of you are IKEA devotees like me, you will know that IKEA has a great range of Scandi style Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, gift boxes and tableware at great prices. Last year I left my IKEA run a little late (mid November) and while there was some great stuff (I picked up a Christmas wreath for $7.99, quality wrapping paper and various sizes of gift boxes and bags), clearly a lot had already sold out.

When I returned at the beginning of December (hoping they had re-stocked), there were slim pickings. I vowed to put a date with IKEA in my diary for Cup weekend (the first weekend of November) this year. I am not sure exactly when the full IKEA Christmas range will be available (there are a few things already available now) but it is worth checking their website or popping in when you can if you are keen.

So, they are my tips for getting organised but not stressed in November. What do you do to take the heat off December? How do you approach the festive season?