It's the most wonderful time of the year. Just in case you have not noticed it just yet, the storefronts are already decked out for the preferred season. With only six weeks to go, realsimple.com is making it easy with the ultimate Christmas timeline to ensure merry moments for you and yours.
SIX WEEKS TO GO
Make a master gift list.
You may not have every detail filled in, but at least make sure you list everyone you'll need to buy for, and think about what they'd like. That way you can pick up things as you see them, rather than running to the mall at the last minute. Include your child(ren)'s wish lists as well.
Make a budget.
Set a ballpark figure of how much you can spend on gifts - it will help you stay grounded when the shopping turns into frenzy.
Yes, you may already be picking things up here and there, but the more you buy ahead, the better. If you have big-ticket items, like electronics, you may want to get those first - you could save substantially.
FOUR WEEKS TO GO
Order gifts now so you have lots of time to wrap them once they arrive.
Wrap gifts as you buy them. Not only will this keep little eyes from finding out what Santa is bringing, it will save you time on Christmas Eve.
Take stock of your decorations.
Get out your lights, ornaments, wreaths, etc. See if anything is broken and needs to be replaced. Is it time for an update? Get them now.
Make sure you have the serving platters and wineglasses you'll need for parties or special meals. If not, now is the time to get those.
THREE WEEKS TO GO (First Week of December)
Buy a live tree.
This is a good time to get your tree, if you want it to stay fresh and retain its needles through Christmas. Same goes for fresh greenery or garlands.
You may be one who decks the halls as soon as November ends, and that's fine, but if not, by the first week of December, it's time to get the house looking festive.
If you'll be serving the holiday meal, make sure you know what you'll be cooking and what family members will be bringing. Start a master grocery list.
Order a ham.
Or whatever else is the centrepiece of your holiday meal - you don't want to get caught short.
TWO WEEKS TO GO (Second Week of December)
Shop for nonperishable items.
Buy alcohol and any canned goods or pantry staples you'll need.
ONE WEEK TO GO
Deep clean your house.
You'll enjoy those decorations even more if the floors are clean and the kitchen is organised. One important task: Clear out your refrigerator. Toss old leftovers to make room for big dishes and ingredients that'll be piling up closer to the holiday.
Buy batteries for children's toys.
If you haven't stocked up while Christmas shopping, make sure you have all the accoutrements necessary for that handheld video game or remote-controlled car.
THREE DAYS BEFORE
Shop for fresh ingredients.
Hit the market for the last-minute vegetables or fruit you need for meals.
Set the table.
So you use those gold-rimmed goblets only once a year? Enjoy them! Go ahead and set the table. Make it even easier on the big day by putting a sticky note on each platter that states what dish you plan to serve on it. (That also allows people to help you without asking 12 times.)
TWO DAYS BEFORE
You've probably socked away some things in the freezer already, but now's the time to prep main courses and make anything that can sit for a couple of days.
Buy fresh flowers.
Whether they are for a party or a family meal, fresh flowers should always be purchased two days in advance. Blooms have time to open up, and they'll still be lush and fragrant.
THE DAY BEFORE
Recharge the batteries on your camera or video recorder.
You don't want to miss the reaction on a little one's face because the battery ran out during the school pageant the week before.
Finish last-minute wrapping and assemble toys that will be surprises from Santa.
Make a timeline for the next day.
Decide when you'll be feasting, then count backward to determine when to put the cake, ham or roast beef in the oven and what else needs to be cooked.
Sit back and relax.
Enjoy your family and friends and relish the traditions you share.