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Column: How planning can make sure Christmas is fun

Ciara Conlon gives some tips how to organise yourself for Christmas – and not get stressed out by the season.

Ciara Conlon

ARE YOU A sucker for Christmas? Does the child inside you love the excitement, the presents the special time with family and friends? It really can be a wonderful time of the year, a time of togetherness, peace and hope. However; it does come with its side-effects. Christmas can cause a lot of stress and unnecessary pressure on those who are strapped for cash or on those who have to do all the organising. A lot of the stress of Christmas can be avoided with advanced planning.

In order to feel more of the joy and less of the pain, here are some tips to get yourself organised in advance. Come Christmas Eve you will be sitting with your feet up, eating mince pies and drinking mulled wine, rather than racing around like Prancer and Dancer.

Do the Budget

Before you hit the high streets, work out what you need and what you are going to spend. The shops are filled with too many nice things. Glitter, glam and bargains make it difficult not to blow the budget. To avoid having regrets make a clear spending plan before you go.

Make the Present List

Ye who don’t make lists may laugh at the merry list-makers – but the list-makers will have the last laugh when they finish their shopping early and within budget. Make a list and check it twice, write down all the presents that you need to buy. Put it in a small notebook that you keep with you at all times. Alternatively use a note in your smartphone or use a programme like Evernote to keep it all up to date. Write down what you have spent so you can keep an eye on how things are adding up.

Online Shopping

Your online shopping days are numbered. If you need to buy anything online, get cracking.
I love online shopping, anything that keeps me out of the shops makes me happy. Although last year I was sweating buckets a week before Christmas hoping my final bits of shopping would show up on time. To avoid that stress get the online shopping out of the way this week.

Make Hallmark Happy

Many years ago I took an ecological stance to stop sending Christmas Cards. Hallmark and An Post were not happy with my decision. Neither, I’m sure, were many of my friends and family but little by little as I see the cards I receive dwindle I think they have finally got the message.

But if you are not swayed my way, now is the time to get those cards in the post, we are fast approaching final posting days for different parts of the world.

Clean the House

Yeah, sorry but it has to be done. Get a deep clean done well in advance and then there won’t be so much to do Christmas week. If you can afford it, call in the cavalry and pay someone to do it. Wouldn’t that be nice, you could get some shopping done while someone else cleans your showers, baths, and last year’s turkey remains from the oven.

Plan the Food

If you never stray from the traditional Christmas Dins, I do believe it’s time to order the bird. If you feel adventurous, why not try paella or a curry or something that doesn’t need to be plucked. Make a list of all the ingredients needed and essential items for the day and remember no need for stockpiling, the shops are open again on the 26th.

The Decorations

Now for the fun bit, or is it? Don’t be shocked to find out most families argue the night the decorations go up. Picture this; the lights stretched out on the floor, twisted and unforgiving. The children bored waiting. The parents yelling “Not yet, don’t touch, sit still”. Why not open a bottle of Christmas cheer before you begin and take it in your stride.

And before you go, remember in the spirit of Christmas to help those less fortunate. Give a little to a deserving cause and do your best to help at home too. Whoever is responsible for making your Christmas dinner make sure they get to have fun too. And if you are the chef, host or organiser remember to ask for help. Christmas is so much more fun is everyone is relaxed and happy. Let’s do our best to make it fun for everyone.

Happy Holidays!

Ciara Conlon is a Productivity Coach and author of Chaos to Control a practical guide to getting things done. She helps busy professionals save time and get focused. If you would like help getting organised and setting goals for 2014, Check out her online course Get Set for Success

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