10 First Tips to prepare effectively for Christmas
Even though Christmas will be a little different this year, there is no question of giving up. Even in small groups, this Christmas will be more rigorous than ever, not only because of the barriers but also because of the war! In order to prepare for this Christmas and make it a successful celebration despite these exceptional conditions, it is never too early. As soon as you start counting the days, it is a sign that you can start preparing. Decorate the house and its exterior, transform the interior into a magical cocoon, test the menus, wrap the gifts, and put up the tree and the Christmas table. For a more than a perfect vacation, here is our program to follow!
1. Give meaning
In order to prepare effectively for Christmas, think about the meaning it has for you. What does Christmas mean to you? A family celebration? A religious celebration? A spiritual renewal? Or is it a time to let go of your buying urges? A commercial holiday? A return to childhood? An enchanted interlude in a hectic daily life?
Think about the deep meaning(s) of this holiday for you in order to prepare yourself fully and effectively for Christmas. Examine the usual springs of your preparations: are you in agreement with what you usually put in place? with the way you do it? For example, am I in agreement with the consumerist idea that my children’s happiness will be achieved by giving too many gifts? Why wouldn’t I try second-hand or handmade gifts this year? What moral, family or spiritual value would I like to deepen on this occasion?
2. Anticipate: the secret to efficient preparation
This is THE key to not being forced to rush through the holiday preparations. Anticipation avoids stress. In order to prepare effectively for Christmas, it is better to do it in advance and anticipate the different important points of this celebration. We will detail these main points in the following article.
3. Who, where, when, and how
Are you celebrating with your extended family? Or with friends? Talk to your family and friends in advance to coordinate schedules; decide together where and with whom you will celebrate. Also, think about the different points of practical organization: do you share the preparation of the meal/the expenses? Who brings what? How do you organize yourself?
To prepare Christmas and festive meals efficiently, the organization is essential: you will avoid being overwhelmed.
To prepare efficiently for Christmas without going broke or falling into unbridled consumerism, budget. Think about and budget your Christmas expenses before making any purchases. You can divide your Christmas budget into several categories: decorative purchases (wreath, tree, various decorations), purchases related to festive meals, gift budget, greeting card budget, stamps, and packages… I advise you to budget your purchases each year; indeed, your financial and personal situation may change, and therefore the budget allocated to Christmas expenses as well.
5. Make a list of Christmas-related items (decorations, dishes, gift wrap…)
Every year, we are tempted by a multitude of seasonal objects: decorative objects, tablecloths, dishes, light garlands, cribs, trees, decorative baking materials, etc. To avoid being tempted by superfluous, useless, duplicate, or expensive purchases, make a list of everything you own: decorations, dishes, and other objects related to the Christmas season.
Each year, you can consult this list before any purchase. You can also modify it by adding what you have bought from one year to the next. This way, you will have a global view of all your possessions; often, you will see that you have many more decorations than you thought! In any case, it definitely helps you make more relevant and reasoned purchases.
6. Spread out spending and anticipate gifts
How do you avoid last-minute, rushed, budget, and irrelevant purchases? Spread your expenses over several months of the year. You can set up a “Christmas fund” that will grow with your monthly savings. You can also buy your gifts throughout the year as your finds seem relevant. You may come across a good deal or the gift that someone close to you has been dreaming of during a private sale, a yard sale, or a chance discovery. By spreading out your spending, you take the time to find the gift that is best suited to the future recipient, and you avoid a big annual expense.
7. The smart way to find Santa
For children – as for many adults! – it is sometimes better to play it safe and get the “wow” factor when you go looking for the “perfect gift that won’t be returned online”. You can then ask in advance what would really please someone else, and make a list of gifts to plan for. Listing the gifts you want to give allows you to budget your Christmas gift envelope efficiently and as realistically as possible.
For children, whether or not you play the Santa Claus game, making sure that your little ones get the gift that will make their eyes shine is always a good idea and promises to be satisfying. Ask the parents of your godchildren or nephews/nieces: furthermore, they may have specific needs (clothes and shoes in particular).
8. Preparing the Advent wreath
The Advent wreath is very much a part of the Alsatian Christmas tradition and has a transformational leadership as much as a decorative one. The 4 candles that mainly compose it symbolize the four Sundays before Christmas and the spiritual waiting that precedes “Advent”. They are lit one by one, one Sunday after the other. There are many versions of this wreath: in the traditional colors of gold and red or in various colors, natural or flashy, you can find them in all styles and at all prices.
You can find them everywhere in florists or in some supermarkets; it is also easy to make them yourself or to get them from some parishes that offer them to cover the maintenance costs of their churches. In any case, they will be of the most beautiful effect in the center of the table or even (for a version without candles) hung on the front door of the house.
9. Prepare your physical and virtual greeting cards efficiently
For those who, like me, are old school and are attached to the traditional greeting card, think about buying them before December, because after St-Nicolas, it becomes difficult to find them and the choice becomes really thin. Define in advance, by going through your repertoire, who you are going to write to and plan definite times for your prose and for sending them; because yes, it takes time, especially if you also have several dozen cards to write! Don’t forget to budget for your cards and stamps as well, as this can quickly add up to quite a bit of money if you are literary-minded!
You can also send your greetings by email or through e-cards; specialized sites are designed for this purpose, such as Dromadaire, which offers a range of dematerialized cards for all occasions.
Set a deadline for sending your greetings so that you can focus on the rest of your preparations.
10. Packages: prepare your Christmas mailings efficiently.
This year, due to the health crisis, there may be more than usual; to prepare your Christmas packages efficiently, I advise you to anticipate as much as possible in order to avoid postal congestion and also in order for your packages to arrive on time. Find out in advance about shipping rates and times, especially if you are sending your packages internationally. This year, the French Post Office is implementing exceptional measures, and some packages can even be sent from home.