- Make a list of Christmas card recipients and then cull the list to keep it realistic. Write your cards early along with addressed envelopes then you can drop them into the post at the beginning of December. However, you don’t have to send cards, if you have just had a baby or a bad year, give yourself a year off. Some years I don’t post cards but design and email a card wishing all a merry Christmas and explaining to family and friends that instead of buying cards, I have bought sheep / fruit trees / chickens on their behalf. Oxfam and World Vision offer great charity ideas.
- Make a list of everyone you need to buy a gift for and ideas that you have. Grab a few catalogues or browse some good websites for ideas. One of my favourites is Cox & Cox. In the next few weeks as you think of more ideas, add them to your list as you will end up with more interesting items than patrolling through the shops panic buying.
- Friends and I have agreed not to buy gifts for each other’s children and I tend to only buy gifts for immediate family. My sister-in-law and I set a budget of £10.00 to spend on each cousin. You can be creative with gifts too and the same sister-in-law and I have a budget of £5.00 for each other. It means we have to be original and clever – she once bought a 3-course meal made of tinned food and I bought her lottery tickets. Sadly she didn’t win the jackpot that year.
- Our children receive one main gift and a stocking of little gifts. The little gifts are thoughtful and cheap – Sophie loves having her own plasters, so one of her gifts will be novelty plasters. If you have a baby, put useful items in his stocking such as milk powder, a spoon, or a first toothbrush which will all come in handy and he won’t care anyway.
- I have also asked grandparents not to lose control but restrict themselves to one gift for each child as they can become totally overwhelmed. This was more important when they were younger but it certainly helps them not to be spoilt.
- Buy wrapping paper in advance so it is ready when you are. You can get great paper from Next, John Lewis or Cox & Cox. Some years I have gone for brown paper and raffia with gold tags adding a touch of sparkle. I am a graphic designer, so each year we have a different colour theme which my husband totally ignores. Everything will be dark green and silver but his gifts will be wrapped in bright pink. It makes me smile and keeps me from being too obsessive!
- Invest in a cellotape dispenser.
- Once I have bought the gifts, I put on music, pour a glass of wine, start wrapping and enjoy myself. On another day, I will add ribbons and tags because if I try to do it all at the same time, it takes too long and an enjoyable task becomes tedious.
- In an ideal world all gifts are bought and wrapped by 1 December… Hmmm!
This post is part of a Christmas theme of how I as a mum approach this season. As with anything, pick and choose the ideas that appeal to you – I don’t do all of them every year! However I have included all the activities, crafts and traditions that I have done over the past few years. Feel free to share your ideas as comments.