Saving Time on Christmas

Back in September, I posted Christmas Preparations You Need to Make Today. Due to overwhelming demand (and a surprise appearance on the Zoë Ball Breakfast Show on Radio 2!) I’ll be spending the next three days expanding on this topic. Today, we’re tackling time, and how to save it during the holidays.

Really, if you could ask for more of anything during the Christmas season, more time would be it, wouldn’t it? With a monster meal to prepare, presents to wrap, and hordes of relatives descending on your home, it can be an absolute nightmare trying to get everything done. But you can spread the work over the course of weeks, or even months. When the time comes, I’m not going to lie to you – you’ll still have plenty to do. You can’t, after all, cook the turkey in advance! But you’ll be able to relax a little more if you’re on top of everything.

Wrapping gifts in advance is a no-brainer. But did you realise that buying Christmas wrapping paper right after the holiday, when it’s ridiculously cheap, will prepare you for next year in the most cost-effective way? Don’t worry about finding paper – you can wrap presents as you buy them, year-round. Remember to get some gift tags too, so you can’t forget what goes where, and you can head off that frantic evening wrapping Aunt Mildred’s socks!

Baking is a problem in my house, around the holidays. I love to do it and everyone loves Christmas-specific treats like cinnamon biscuits and mince pies. But when my husband takes over the kitchen for the Christmas meal, which he does sometime on the 24th, it’s difficult to get in there and get my baking done. The key element here is speed; if I’m in and out and out of his hair, I’m far less likely to be chased out by a snarling chef, drunk on power, sherry and mincemeat and wielding a whisk slathered in cranberry sauce! If you take a few hours out to plan your baked-goods menu, you can sort out all your recipes in advance and start measuring the dry ingredients. Pop them into jars or Ziploc baggies and, when you’re about to bake, decant them into a bowl. All you need are the wet ingredients and the oven! Stick a label on there with the rest of the recipe and it will take you no time at all to get your baking done!

In a home with children, tidying the living room in preparation of the festivities can be an absolute nightmare. At the beginning of December, we have a big clear-out; any toys that don’t comfortably fit in the footstool-slash-toybox go back upstairs to the bedrooms they’ve sprung forth from. We de-clutter a bit and figure out where we’re going to put the tree, often by unscrewing the coffee table and popping it into the garage for the season. This doesn’t take long, but it will save a huge amount of stress and time on Christmas Eve when you suddenly need to figure out how to fit everyone you know into your front room with a tree already in place!

Tomorrow, we’ll be looking at cutting down on Christmas stress, and on Monday you’ll find the most important article; saving money on Christmas. Don’t forget to come back in December, too, when we’ll feature a series of recipes and how-to guides for Christmas crafts, decorations and recipes.

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