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Planning for Christmas? It sounds oh so easy.

Plan ahead.

Make a list.

Drop hints to other half. Giant hints. All year through. Hints the size of China. Pick up on hints from kids and ignore. Make cake months in advance. Write and send cards in the first week of December.

Write list out in ‘neat’ in your newly acquired Christmas jobs notepad.

Feel accomplished due to having such a beautiful list.

Start buying presents in the January sales. Spread your shopping out. Do – buy a bit at a time. Don’t – forget / lose what you have bought so by the time Christmas comes you end up buying for everyone anyway and then find the bargain presents round about the following February.

Make a list of what you buy.

Start cleaning. Consider getting a cleaner for the millionth time this week. Save each month. Consider how you could save even more money by making homemade gifts. Decide that a day ice-skating would be a lovely family day out – one that could be replicated every year. Remember you are like Bambi on ice, cling to the side with fear in your eyes. Down a Baileys hot chocolate for Dutch courage and set off channelling your inner Torville. Fall flat on face and sprain wrist.

Make a list of your lists.

Plot your route around the motorways of the UK so that you can visit all of your family who happen to live as far apart as is humanly possible AND avoid the festive traffic. Half kill yourself trawling the packed, chaotic and quite frankly – sweaty Christmas markets in the hope of finding that all important perfect tree decoration as you started a tradition last November to buy a new one each year.

Find the list of people who sent you a card last year and realise you need more cards to send.

Get the kids to make their cards. Pick glitter out of the carpet until next May. Spend hours googling elf on the shelf ideas. Get as far as 15th December and tell the kids Santa has a rush on in the workshop and little old Elfie has had to go back to help out. Buy Christmas jumper. Wear Christmas jumper. Hate the itchiness of it and never wear it again. Force the kids to wear theirs though. Research grottos for a Christmas ‘experience’ –

make a grotto list.

Realise grottos that require booking are booked up way in advance by people even more organised than you. Buy Radio Times and go through TV section with a red pen – just like you used to do before gadgets and technology. Watch approximately 10% of what you planned.

Feel smug about the number of items ticked off the original list.

Look at the menu in advance and convince yourself that you will be eating healthily on the works do – realise how many calories are in a Caeser Salad and have a burger instead. Also have cheesecake. And prosecco. Be prepared – order your turkey over the summer holidays and grow your tree from scratch over a period of years. Realise you have no bloody time to make homemade bloody gifts. Stupid idea.

Lose the list.


Find the list.

Panic more at what you still have to do.

Make a list of the food you are going to need so there will be no need to nip to Tesco over the Christmas period. You know, so that it’s relaxing. Realise your food list could feed Wales for all of 2016. Arrive to the school Christmas play 24 hours early – thank your lucky stars it wasn’t 24 hours too late. Later that night finally find the letter from school dated October 30th requesting costumes for the Christmas play – an octopus and a bale of hay. Spend the night sewing.

Hate the list.

Find out as you are wrapping the kids presents at 10pm on 24th that you have no AA batteries in the whole damn house. Emergency trip to petrol station. Which is shut?!?!? Use batteries from TV remote. Regret ever starting any family traditions and vow that there will be no more of that nonsense. Eat six mince pies in one sitting and wash them down with a bottle of red.

Burn the list.

Remember you haven’t iced the cake…


In all seriousness – here are my own personal recommendations for planning for Christmas…

Find a church service, or a nativity, or a carol service, or all three. Plan in advance when you are going. Go with family, go with friends, take the kids, go alone. Make it a regular part of your Christmas. Make it your tradition. Wrap up warm and belong. Take time to remember and to reflect. Be present.

Whether you are religious or not, I think a carol service, by candle light is one of the most beautiful hours of my year and should be part of everyone’s Christmas.


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