There are many reasons for not being organised come Christmas time. Maybe you don’t register the jingles playing in every supermarket and retail shop. Or perhaps you’re well aware of the impending festive season but simply don’t have the time. Or you may just thrive on pressure.
They say ‘nothing makes a person more productive than the last minute’ so we thought we’d produce a Christmas preparation guide for those who have left things late and have yet to get productive.
Within our guide, you’ll find tips on the main last minute areas:
We’ve also included a printable last minute checklist to ensure you won’t forget any small details between now and Christmas.
With Christmas fast approaching, we’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and the best of luck with the last minute preparations.
A good place to start getting organised for Christmas is from within. Or at least it’s as good a place to start as any. After all, a wreath or some festive lights are a great way to give off the appearance that you’ve got everything under control to your neighbours and friends.
Set aside an hour and take an inventory of your decorations, table settings, lights, gift wrap, tree, cards and other essential Christmas items. Consider what’s out there on the market and work out what you’re missing.
Because time is of the essence, it’s ideal if you can find an online store that has everything (e.g. EziBuy) so you can place one bulk order.
Just be aware of extended delivery times during the holiday season. Some outlets won’t guarantee delivery after a certain date, or will charge a much higher fee for expedited shipping.
Last minute gift shopping has changed dramatically over time. Sure, some of us will still receive a newsagent magazine or the nicest item from a petrol station. But by and large, the internet and extended hours at retail shops have improved the calibre of last minute gifts.
To optimise your last minute Christmas gift shopping, we recommend making a list of everyone you want to buy a gift for. Then set deadlines and a rough budget for each recipient; many sites, including ours, have categories with gifts based on price (e.g. Gifts Under $50).
The key is to think simple. It’s easy to get bogged down so focus on one hobby or interest. If your colleague drinks tea at work, a nicely packaged set of loose leaf tea is a sure-fire winner. If your family member is a foodie, consider a nice chopping board or a chic glass set.
Gift cards are a safe but acceptable Christmas gift option if you simply can’t think of a good gift or you’ve run out of time. They’re generic, yes, but also practical and useful.
If you’re tight on cash and you know your recipient won’t be upset, give them a card that tells them you’ll take them post-holiday shopping while the sales are on. This can work wonders because you can get twice as much. But it also goes against the Christmas spirit somewhat.
An effective alternative is to create a gift. A personalised card or calendar can mean the world to the recipient and shows you’ve put time and thought into the gift. Creating can also be a good option if you’re strapped for cash and time. For example, sending a personalised video featuring your family is free and easy.
The Christmas season can be a great time to travel, either to visit your family and friends for a big get-together, or to get away from the madness of it all.
But Christmas is also one of the busiest travel seasons, which means it can be an expensive and difficult time to travel. These tips aim to help you navigate the murky waters of travel websites and get you the best deal possible.
Given how competitive the travel industry is, there are so many travel websites. You have your big-name players like Expedia or Webjet that offer great deals, a myriad of comparison sites like Skyscanner or the aptly named Cheap Flights, or your flight agent sites like Flight Centre.
With so many options, it pays to shop around. Try at least three travel websites and narrow down your search. You’ll probably find one or two airlines that keep cropping up in your results. At this point, go to the airline websites and check out their prices. You may find they can offer a better deal than the supposedly cheap flight websites.
If you’ve done some online searches and found the prices eye-wateringly expensive, tweak your dates slightly. As a rule of thumb, it’s cheaper to fly on Monday-Wednesday than Friday-Sunday.
Hence, if you’d previously selected to fly on the Saturday before Christmas and return the following Saturday, you could potentially find much cheaper deals by choosing the relative Mondays instead.
This tip is geared more to people who are keen to go on holiday during the Christmas period, than those with family commitments. But if you’ve changed the dates (as suggested above) and the prices still haven’t budged, why not consider changing your destination?
Choosing a lesser known destination can be beneficial. The obscurity can lead you to exploring places you never imagined, plus you have a better chance of lower prices because it’s not a famous holiday destination.
Another way to find the cheapest Christmas travel deals is to set fare alerts. This can be done on websites like Skyscanner or Expert Flyer, or on dedicated apps like Hopper. Both methods keep an eye on your selected flight path and dates and alert you if the price drops on the corresponding fares.
If none of these tactics seem to be making much difference, maybe it’s time to see your travel agent. They won’t necessarily be able to find you cheaper direct flights, but they are good at any combo deals (adding in a hotel or car rental, for example) or for multi-leg journeys. Plus, it can be nice to have a face-to-face interaction.
Of course, if you’re seeking a getaway, you don’t have to fly or book anything at all. Just fill up the tank, stock up on supplies (don’t forget the presents) and load up the car. Road trips are fun for the entire family and a cheap alternative to holiday flights.
A natural place to start is with the big turkey bird, a Christmas dinner classic. This recipe is so simple yet packs plenty of flavour under its crispy skin.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Remove turkey innards, wash turkey and pat dry with paper towels.
Make two cuts through the skin on both of the breasts to form pockets. Mix together the butter and crushed garlic (lemon and herbs like rosemary are optional) and insert into the two cuts.
Rub the turkey liberally with salt, pepper and paprika. Place in the roasting bag and seal. Place bag on a roasting tin breast side up.
Roast for 2 - 2 1/2 hours. With a meat thermometer, it is done when internal temperature reaches 85 degrees.
When turkey is done, carefully open the roasting bag (watch out for steam). Pour the liquid into the roasting tin and place the turkey on a platter.
Place the tin over gentle heat and add the butter. When melted, whisk in the flour. Stir constantly until it thickens into gravy. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
This recipe is essentially just nicely roasted potatoes, which are served in a fun way. When finished, the stacked potatoes and rosemary sprig give off the look of a Christmas tree (or perhaps a snowman).
Preheat oven to 190°C.
Place potatoes in a saucepan of cold salted water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes until potatoes give slightly when pierced with a cutlery knife. Drain and cool.
Place potatoes in a bowl with oil and sea salt, and toss well to combine. Slightly flatten each potato by pressing down with your hand. Then, place one potato on top of another and secure with a cocktail stick.
Place potatoes on an oiled baking tray and bake for 10 minutes until crisp and golden. Remove cocktail sticks and replace with rosemary sprigs to serve.
Proper Christmas puddings are delicious but they often require a lot of ingredients and soaking overnight. For these reasons, we’ve chosen to provide you with a recipe that’s decadent, Christmassy and quick; you can make it in 10 minutes!
Whisk the cream with the vanilla and icing sugar until it just holds its shape. Crumble the cake into six glasses, then top with a few cherries, a dollop of cream and a drizzle of the kirsch. Scatter over the chopped chocolate.
Finally, Christmas isn’t complete without some form of alcohol. And mulled wine is a festive, traditional choice. Here’s our easy-to-make version:
Pour the red wine into a large saucepan. Add the mandarin, cinnamon stick, star anise, apple, cloves and black peppercorns. Heat very gently, simmer for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat.
Strain the spices and fruit out then stir in the brandy. Ladle into mugs or heatproof glasses to serve. Garnish with some orange slices.
Take the stress out of Christmas with our printable last minute Christmas checklist. With this list in tow, you’ll be able to get organised for Christmas with plenty of time to spare. It includes everything from sorting out your decorations to wrapping presents, sending cards to putting out milk and cookies for Santa.
Christmas is a special, truly magical holiday, which is cherished and celebrated all over the world. Reindeer, mistletoe, carols, Santa Claus, Christmas crackers, presents, love … these are just a few of the wonderful things that Christmas conjures up in our minds.
However, it takes serious organisation and planning to get ready for Christmas. We hope this Last Minute Christmas Guide has helped you prepare in some way for the festive season.
Whether this guide gave you some Christmas gift ideas or a new recipe to try, lofty ambitions to travel or shopping advice, our intention was always to share the festive cheer. After all, that’s what the Christmas spirit is all about.
Wherever you are in the world, Merry Christmas! May your home be filled with joy and wonder.
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