I have always loved Christmas from the traditions that surrounds it to the spirit of the season seeing us spending time with family and friends. As the end of the year approaches, our priorities seem to change from the everyday to become more relaxed as we start to enjoy the festive season.
For many years, we have lived in some very remote places requiring us to be organised with lots of advanced planning. I was probably one of the few people I knew who celebrated stores stocking Christmas as early as our October holidays so I could start to get organised and bring home with me everything from ham, turkeys and other special cooking supplies to Christmas crackers and gifts. Doing this has become easier with the world of online shopping. Already, I have items being shipped to my Dad's place in Australia. And, of course, we now have our own online store - Shambhala House!
So I put the word out on social media to come up with these 'Top Ten Tips For Getting Organised This Christmas' that might help you to get a head start this festive season and the next so you can enjoy the time more. A special thank you to those who contributed: Melinda Haeusler, Cathy Feenan, Debbie Jay, Mara Morrison, Kathie Holmes and Martha Clarke. I very much appreciated you taking the time to comment and send suggestions.
1. LOOK FOR THOSE WITHOUT A PLAN
I have spent nearly 20 years moving for work, first for my own and then my husband's. This has seen us living in remote places with lots of single people and couples without their own families with them. Many have joined us on Christmas Day to celebrate adding to the joy of our own family. The season of giving comes in many forms and often the greatest gift you can to give someone is an invitation to Christmas Day lunch.
2. NEED TO MAKE TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS? ORGANISE EARLY
Our family and friends are probably reading this and laughing right now as this is not something we are known for. Thus this point comes from experience. If you don't book early then this is what happens:
- Flights, trains and busses become booked out and really expensive
- Your travel dates will probably not be what you want, your travel times will not be good, extra layover times will be required and you may even need to take extra routes to get to your final destination
- Hire cars actually do book out
- Hotels, especially transit hotels, book out, requiring you and your family to sleep on the floor of airports
- You arrive tired and exhausted, and this can take days to recover as you hit the festivities upon arrival.
So you get the idea ... book early! We actually have this year.
3. DECK THE HALLS WITH BOUGHS OF HOLLY
We typically decorate on or around 1 December and make it a family event. It not only helps to create a feeling of excitement around the house, but getting it done a little earlier will greatly free up your time as Christmas Day approaches.
4. GIFT GIVING ... MAKE A LIST AND CHECK IT TWICE!This seemed to be the big one to get organised and take the stress out of the season. I love my organised friends and their ideas for this one. Here are just a few:
- Message us (see the blue button up the top) to help you get organised. We have a range of items available that friends and family would love
- Make a list with present ideas next to each person then set aside one day to get it all done. Know your budget beforehand as this will make it easier not to impulse buy
- Make your dedicated Christmas shopping day fun
- Look at different Apps that might be able to help, e.g. Asana
- Keep the lists going from year to year so you are not having to recreate from scratch. Perhaps allocate a file in your filing cabinet just for this!
4. GIVE TWICE THIS CHRISTMAS
It is the season of giving so there are a few ways you can plan to 'Give Twice This Christmas':
- Support small businesses online and in your local area
- Look for ethically sourced products, where your gift this year could also help support others from around the world. There is so many people doing amazing things and the world of technology means they can easily be found at your fingertips
- Shop at your local markets to discover the talents of your local artists and community members
- Look at doing charitable gifts to those in need. Here in Indonesia, the call goes out to give local orphanage children items like clothes, shoes and school stationery supplies, rather than toys
- Look around your local community to see where you can make a difference this Christmas.
5. CHRISTMAS PRESENT WRAPPING
This seems to be the one I get each year and I then spend hours wrapping presents for not only our family, but also extended family and friends. I do enjoy it though and I could probably do it quicker, but I like to mix the paper up and use lots of ribbons to make the tree look festive, so here are some suggestions from myself and contributors:
- This year, I plan on using some of our beautiful Christmas bags from the Yayasan Cheshire people, whose products we we stock (see photo). They are made of material, come in different sizes, look beautiful, can be reused next year, and save a lot of time and trees
- Buy plenty of sticky tape, ribbon, cards and wrapping paper, and make sure you have sharp scissors. Excess paper can always be stored for next year, but running out can mean another trip to the shops
- Make wrapping fun ... get the carols playing, a glass of wine and wrap in one smash
- Make it a special time to spend with someone as you wrap your gifts
- Take advantage of the wrapping services often run by charities over the Christmas period
- Use different paper, cards and handwriting for Santa gifts!
6. OPPORTUNITY TO TEACH CHILDREN THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS
We can often get so caught up in ticking our To Do List off that we don't prioritise taking the time to teach our children the spirit of Christmas. This is the time of the year that calls go out about how Christmas is becoming too commercialised and for children it is all about presents.
The greatest gift we can probably give our children is our time and teaching them about the meaning of this time of the year whether it be your family's religious beliefs, teaching your children about your family traditions, having them be involved in giving to those less fortunate or taking them to buy small gifts for family members themselves. So think about the values and traditions you want to pass onto your children, and put them at the top of the To Do List!
7. MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
Christmas can become an expensive time of the year, so let's look at some ways we can perhaps ease the purse strings:
- Message us (see blue button above)! We can talk about who it is you require gifts for, your budget and put forth recommendations. We have free shipping for a minimum spend so take advantage of offers like this one
- Start early and take advantage of different sales throughout the year
- Lay-by is a great way to pay off presents weekly and to keep them out of the house so they aren't discovered by family members
- Trading in loyalty program points! We typically save ours for this time of the year to use for everything from iTune and grocery store gift cards to actual gifts and travel arrangements
- Go around your house and collect all those gift vouchers and speciality offers that you probably have lying around. They can add up to quite a lot so take advantage of them and use them before they expire
- Before you hit the shops, know exactly what you need, don't wander aimlessly and don't get side-tracked with all the temptations. This is where online shopping can really help as you can easily keep track of your spend as you go
- Create an email folder for Christmas online shopping receipts and a shoebox or zip lock bag for paper receipts. Write down how your spending is going
- Christmas breakfasts, lunches and dinners can add up, and people feel better if they can bring something so look at having everyone in your group do different dishes for the feast. They would much rather you join them at the table too then be in the kitchen
- Think about what your talents are and make things yourself. For years, my sister made packs of handmade cards that the family looked forward to each year. If baking is your thing then give packs of Christmas cookies or cakes. I am seeing lots of craft packs for children around the place so be creative and see what you can put together!
8. THE CHRISTMAS FEASTS ... THERE IS ALWAYS LOTS OF FOOD
So I am usually allocated the job of gift wrapping as the kitchen isn't my speciality area, while my sister and business partner, Leica, can be found in the kitchen. However, I always do the food shopping when it comes to our big family get togethers, so this I do have experience in. Here is some advice, especially if you have large groups:
- Allocate roles from shopping, prep work, cooking and clean-up
- Come up with the menu for the day
- Find out about any dietary needs or allergies of guests
- You will have everyday shopping to do, as well as food for the actual day. One person can go to the grocery store to do the 'big' shop, and others can go get the speciality food items
- See what you can prepare prior to Christmas Day whether it be the family sausage rolls that can be frozen, or the ham dressed and ready to to go the day before
- Make the kitchen a social point so all can enjoy the interaction as food is prepared
- Have someone doing the cleaning and washing up, while others are preparing the food, to keep things flowing nicely
- If your group is smaller than you can combine roles, but just remember many hands makes light work
- Then there is always the option of going to a restaurant that is doing Christmas lunch!
9. REVIEW YOUR LISTS AND YOUR TIME AS YOU GO AND 'LET IT GO'
We can all be very good at writing extensive lists as we have visions of creating a postcard perfect Christmas. Each week, prioritise your list according to your values of what is important and what would simply be nice. Ensuring your important items are ticked off your list and you are enjoying the season, is more important then creating the perfect family picture. So breath, 'Let It Go' and enjoy yourself!
10. SELF CARE
As you are running around, make sure you take the time to look after yourself. Get your hair and nails done, go for a massage, meditate, have coffee with a friends, laugh, and buy yourself a little gift for Christmas too whether it be a new outfit for the holidays or something for your heart. And, most importantly, enjoy this special time of the year!