By Kris de Curtis [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Whilst the stockings may be weeks off of hanging on the wall, and the snow definitely doesn’t look like it is about to fall, the end of October brings about the ideal opportunity to prepare for the festive season. Therefore I present to you five tips to prepare for Christmas now, which should save you money, time and effort as the festive season approaches. There is after all just eight weeks to go until Christmas Eve! So without further ado…
1. Start baking now!
Obviously if you are that way inclined, now is the time to start baking for Christmas. If you are a fan of the traditional Christmas Cake and wish to make your own, now is the ideal time to make it. This will give your cake five ‘feeds’ where you make little holes in the top of your cake and drizzle a couple of teaspoons of brandy or rum in the holes. It will also take account of the week you will need to marzipan your cake and let the marzipan dry out; and ice the cake and let the icing dry out too. Yes, this may require some degree of effort – but having made my own last year, it is something definitely worth the extra effort if you love Christmas cake! I use Delia’s recipe which can be found here.
Another addition to my Christmas baking this year has been to make my own mincemeat. Again people may question – why make this now? The simple answer is that it gives time for the flavours to mature and mingle before you put it into mince pies in the run up to the festive period. It’s also very simple to make – again I used a Delia Smith recipe, opting to use her recipe that included cranberries. All I had to do was weigh the ingredients, mix them together, leave for twelve hours and then slow cook for three hours. The smell in the kitchen was wonderful and hopefully it will be well worth the wait when this is finally tasted in some mince pies come December.
2. Buy some of the essentials
This tip goes back to good housekeeping. My interest in this was piqued a few years ago when I noticed tins of Celebrations that were priced at £5 in September, were suddenly £9.99 come November. So the advice is simple, whether it’s buying a bottle of alcohol for your Christmas tipple (there are some very competitive offers out there now); or buying some sweets in preparation for Santa – look at the supermarket offers and snap them up! Similarly if your freezer can take the pressure, you can start freezing food for Christmas now as well. Not only will this help spread the cost of Christmas but will also help make sure Christmas is a well prepared machine!
3. Write your Christmas cards out now!
This may seem strange, this may seem common sense to people, however I always find that as Christmas marches ever closer the demands on my time also become greater. Therefore writing your Christmas cards out now, having them written, stamped and ready to post can only stand you in good stead for the festive season. Also, let’s not forget it gives you one less thing to think about come December 1st….
4. Plan, plan and plan!
A trouble free Christmas is usually a well planned Christmas. It isn’t too early to start planning Christmas now – we are just eight weeks away. If you’re cooking dinner you can start thinking about your menu, if you’re on a healthy eating plan then you can use your time now to start thinking about how to navigate your way around the event. Christmas dinner in my house is always timetabled, knowing what is coming out of the oven when and knowing when to put things in, allowing adequate time for the all important turkey to rest. On a different note if you are following Slimming World then as you are buying the Christmas wine, or chocolates etc you could write how many syns each portion of that particular food or drink is. If you think it would help temptation even more you could even write the syns for the whole box of chocolates or bottle of wine – just to make sure you don’t overindulge unnecessarily.
5. Have fun
There’s eight weeks to go. There’s lots of Christmas fairs, events and most importantly fun to be had. Have a good browse of everything. Take photos of present ideas as you come across them if you have a smartphone. Christmas isn’t meant to be stressful – relax, have fun and enjoy the ride!