Peace of mind in the season of peace and goodwill to all is the goal as we prepare for the headlong rush into Christmas. We’ve assembled a small checklist that will help you stay ahead of the hectic, and leave you free to enjoy the holy days and the holidays with nothing on your mind but family, friends, festivities, feasting and fun.
3 WEEKS OUT
Mail Christmas cards.
The activity that makes you feel guilty if it’s not done timeously. Truth is, don’t sweat it.
You can even put off mailing them until after the holiday rush. People enjoy getting a card a little late when things have quietened down and they even notice the mail.
Buy a real, live tree
This is the right time to get your greenery or garlands. The tree will stay fresh through Christmas and won’t drop needles. Remember though that live trees eventually go dry, shed their needles and become a fire hazard.
There’s no better time to get the house and halls decked for the season, and doing it early gets the house looking festive and puts everyone in a pleasant anticipatory mood. Our Canadian tradition is to do it after Remembrance Day.
Finalize the menu
If you’re hosting this holiday, time to decide what you’ll have on the menu and know what you’ll be cooking and what other guests will be bringing. Start a master grocery list.
Order a turkey or ham
Or whatever else is the centrepiece of your holiday meal before the rush. Chances are everyone else is having the same thoughts at the same time.
2 WEEKS OUT
Mail out-of-town gifts
Try to have them in the mail by December 10 so that they can reach their destination in time considering the huge amount of mail at this time of year. If you’re sending gifts internationally, sooner rather than later.
Shop for non-perishable items
Buy the alcohol and any canned goods or pantry staples you’ll need, so you’re fully stocked.
ONE WEEK OUT
Deep clean your house
Clean floors and shiny kitchen show off decorations at their best and prepare you for the cooking to come. Take the opportunity to clear out the refrigerator to make room for big dishes that’ll be piling up closer to the big day, as well as the mountain of left-overs after.
Buy batteries for children’s toys
Chances are the children are going to be receiving a fresh assortment of electronic toys. AA or AAA batteries are the most popular choice of sizes for that handheld video game or remote-controlled car you know is coming.
3 DAYS BEFORE
Shop for fresh ingredients
Now is the time to hit the stores for the vegetables or fruit your menu calls for.
Set the Table
Bring them out and show them off! All that fancy cutlery and crockery you keep for special occasions get their chance to shine. Run them through the dishwasher to get rid of any dust that might have gathered since the last time they saw daylight.
Make things even easier on the big day by putting a sticky note on each platter that states what dish you plan to serve on it. So people can help you without asking a dozen times what goes where.
TWO DAYS BEFORE
This is the time to prep your main courses and make anything that can sit for a couple of days. If you’ve got pre-prepared items in the freezer already, bring them out to thaw.
This is also a good opportunity to start marinating the turkey, if that’s on your
Buy fresh flowers
The secret to a blooming bouquet at it’s best is purchasing fresh flowers two days in advance. Blooms have time to open up properly, and they’ll still be lush and fragrant.
THE DAY BEFORE
Finish last-minute wrapping
It has to be done. And now is your last chance.
Finish cooking, and make a timeline for the next day.
Decide when you’ll be feasting, then count backward to determine when to put the turkey (or ham or roast beef) in the oven and what else needs to be hot and ready when everyone sits down to eat.
Sit back and relax.
You’ve earned it. Now enjoy the festivities along with everyone else.
After that fine blush of happiness caused by spending special time with loved ones, we all have to come down to earth and clean up. Ugh. But it helps to know that many people disassemble their Christmas decorations on January 6th - Epiphany or Three Kings' Day.
And then it’s only 344 days until you need this checklist again!