Five get-ahead Christmas planning tips

'Tis the season to be jolly, not the season to be busy. Try these savvy ideas to get the chores out of the way so you can focus on the magic moments.

It takes a lot of work to make those special Christmas memories that’ll last a lifetime. But it’s no good creating a moment of magic if you’re not around to enjoy it, because you have to rush off to the next task.

You deserve to take time to savour the festive season. And the best way of doing that is to plan ahead. With a bit of preparation, you can get lots of Christmas chores out of the way, so you can focus on your family when the big day comes.

Take a look at our ideas for some seasonal shortcuts that can help ensure you all have a merry Christmas – together. And for a full guide to getting organised for Christmas, we’ve put together a week-by-week planner.

Get ahead with the Christmas cooking

You don’t need to be chained to the hob on the 25th to get Christmas dinner ready in time. Check out our tips on getting everything from stuffing to mince pies and Christmas pudding ready in advance. That means more time to watch the littles enjoying their presents.

Give yourself a break on Boxing Day too, by picking a meal that can be cooked and frozen a couple of weeks beforehand. Then all you have to do is reheat it and settle down in front of the telly.

Give the house a quick seasonal clean

With guests coming, you’ll want the house looking presentable. But don’t run around trying to do it all just before they arrive. Get the house tidy and organised before the festivities start, then it’ll be easier to clean as you go.

Try these suggestions for the key tasks to tackle when it comes to a Christmas clean-up that won’t leave you wiped out.

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Prep your party wardrobe

We’ve all been there – reaching in the wardrobe before the big party only to find the outfit you’d been saving has been attacked by moths. Save yourself any last-minute panic by taking out a few favourites in advance and making sure they’re in good shape.

Check if they need any repairs and wash them with Ariel 3in1 pods and so they’ll look just as good as new. And if you’re not sure what to wear, you can get some ideas from our guide to the right party dress for you.

Play your (Christmas) cards right

If you’ve ever found your hand cramping up as you sign the 100th Christmas card in a row, then you must have wondered if there was a better way. With a bit of planning, there is.

In the weeks before Christmas, pack your bag with a little address book and a small bundle of cards. Then every time you have some downtime – at the bus stop or in the dentist’s waiting room – fill the time by writing out some greetings.

Be an early bird with decorations

Ever seen the Christmas decorations practically being given away in the shops after Christmas? Now’s the time for the smart shopper to pounce.

As you pack away your decorations, make a note of what you have and some of the things you might need to replace. Then nip to the sales and pick them up at bargain basement prices. This way you’ll have everything ready (for much less) next year.

What are your favourite tips for a well-organised Christmas? Let us know in the comments below.

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We call into the Turkish restaurant opposite to be spoiled for Christmas lunch then family come here on Boxing Day for food I've already cooked & frozen.I'm too old to get flustered any more !

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i always buy gifts for people throughout the year,and in any sales that have appropriate items.I put them away until needed. I make my own cards and gift tags from previous ones,and additional trimmings

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Thanks, useful tips! You can always decide you are not having a big, awkward item like a turkey - try beef Wellington or similar, which you may be able to buy and freeze in advance. No leftovers, and a vegetarian can have a cheese and mushroom version, plus all the roast veg if they are cooked in a separate tray. Don't forget though, you will have to cook again the day after.

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