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NOW CLOSED: The countdown to Christmas has started - share your best Christmas preparation advice with Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger! There's £100 cash up for grabs

(153 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 07-Nov-12 10:59:41

To celebrate the forthcoming release of the sequel to Nativity - Nativity 2 Danger in the Manger (released November 23 - staring David Tennant and Joanna Page - check out the trailer here) the film makers want to know hear all about your preparations in the run up to Christmas.

So, do you have any top tips for making Christmas run smoothly?

~ Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?
~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?
~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? wink)
~ Whatever your Christmas preparations involve, we want to hear about it.

Also, throughout November Nativity 2 have a fab advent calendar on their Mumsnet pages, where each day you can uncover a great piece of Christmas planning advice, take part in a Christmas quiz or win a prize.
Take a look at what's behind today's date here: www.mumsnet.com/microsites/nativity-2

Everyone who adds their comments to this thread will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will receive £100 cash in time for Christmas!

Thanks and good luck,

MNHQ

Dolallytats Fri 09-Nov-12 17:06:28

I shop throughout the year for gifts. I try and buy things like cards, crackers and wrapping paper in the sales in Jan...all the things that get thrown away anyway.

My top tip for an easy Christmas dinner is to use a throwaway foil tray to cook the turkey anf the roasties in....the washing up becomes so much easier when you can put the messy, oily dishes straight in the bin!!

loubielou31 Fri 09-Nov-12 17:18:23

Make a budget and stick to it. Think about how much you can really afford to spend. A huge pile of presents under the tree is no use if you can't afford the gas bill. I know it's really dull sorry, but it's so important.

In a similar vein make a point of enjoying the small stuff. Snuggling under a blanket watching a festive DVD with value popcorn, brilliant.

Tyranasaurus Fri 09-Nov-12 17:23:47

kee the number of people you buy for to a minimum- sounds mean but i just mean don't get stuck exchanging smellies with casual friends. make cake and pudding in advance. have a vague ideas present list but not set in stone. shop online. don't like planning to far ahead- xmas thoughts banned til after bonfire night

JakeBullet Fri 09-Nov-12 17:25:00

Tbh, my main thought is to remind myself that it's just two days ...and as long as my son has something to open on Cmas Day then I have done well.

I do like to plan Xmas dinner and make the stuffing end of November to freeze.
Apart from that I just chill.

choccyp1g Fri 09-Nov-12 17:33:40

~ Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?
I usually get crackers and wrapping paper in January at half-price. Other presents I find if I buy too far in advance I forget what I've got and end up getting too much.
Ideally the last week of November, I get all the DC presents packed and hidden. One bag for stocking stuff, one for from Mummy and Daddy. If that's not done by the start of December I get panicky
Then get the family presents that need posting, people who you actually see over Christmas can be a bit last minute panic buys. We have a bit of a pact with grown-ups in the family, presents must be very small (no bigger than a book) or totally disposable (food or drink). Which means last minute wine and chocolate is perfectly acceptable, and regifting of such items is allowable, except for the dreaded mulled wine from the school fair.

~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?

Foodwise, once we've decided the main meat, I make a bit of a list, and get the non-perishables over a few weeks.

~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? ) If it's really necessary, they'll have it in Sainsbury's (or wherever your usual supermarket is) up to a few days before.

My other tip is not to over cater; we have big meal as a late lunch, and assume that Christmas day "tea" will be "snax" like fruit, cheese, crackers.
Over the holiday, you only really need one serious meal a day and the rest can be fruit, soup bread etc. ..which you can actually get in our local shop on Boxing day!

whattodoo Fri 09-Nov-12 17:59:44

I try to plan ahead as much as poss, pick things up through the year as and when I see them.
I have a list that I tick off when I've got the gift, wrapped it and planned when to deliver it.
Although I used to mock my aunties who had a book where they recorded who they sent cards to, who they received them back from, what they bought as a gift for everyone each and every year, etc etc etc. I now have one of those books! brilliant for reminding me that I bought books for x last year, so maybe buy toy this year ...
I tend to plan what I want to get everyone, then research it online. Often I'll have a wander around the shopping centre just to make sure I haven't missed anything then go home and order it online.
I use sites like quidco so i get cashback on many orders. I also make good use of loyalty points and promotions.
I've paid for a 6 month delivery ticket from Tesco this year, so will do all shopping online. having said that, I did it online last year then there was a great snow so they were unable to deliver. I had to battle my way through with the masses. But at least it had all been picked for me so I didn't have to fight for the turkey or queue for 2 hrs.

Christmas starts in January - christmas cards, wrapping paper, bargin gifts. Pick up gifts throughout the year, online, book clubs etc.

Defrost freezer in October half term and start stocking with christmas food - cocktail sausages, streaky bacon, sausage meat etc, sprouts yuk

November - try to get a list of presents. start researching where to buy etc

December - 1st saturday in December is house cleaning and the 1st sunday is christmas dec's day. I get DH to take a day off work early December and we hit the shops together and then go for lunch - this is a real treat for us as we don't get much time alone, sadly we won't be able to do it this year as DH doesn't have any holidays left and will have to take 4 days off without pay. I also take the day off work on the last day of term, send the DC's to school and come home armed with sellotape and spend most of the day wrapping. 23rd December is house cleaning day, DC's thankfully help, beds striped etc, the full works. Christmas eve is veg prepping day and table setting, any last bits of washing and do whatever I can to avoid the supermarkets until the afternoon when there are bargins to be had. Christmas day morning is the only time in the year I get a glass of Bucks Fizz so always look forward to that then it's down to cooking... generally by this stage I'm too pissed to care

Adversecamber Fri 09-Nov-12 18:58:22

Avoid relatives and double check sell by dates on fancy cheeses
You can never have too many pigs in blankets and eat chocolate coins for breakfast stolen from dc Christmas stockings

I buy presents throughout the year
I send as few cards as possible
I prepare all veg the night before
I never announce a time for dinner , just say will be roughly at 2pm
Do not bully people in to wearing Christmas hats <looking at you SIL>

Accept the fact that your dinner table will never look like the ones in Good Housekeeping unless you are LeQueen.

I buy all the presents really early (have finished my Xmas shopping already) as it's easier to budget (can spread the cost if needed) and it saves having to trail round the shops when it's horrendously busy. Since family aren't near by it also gives us plenty of time to get their presents to them whenever they visit before Xmas.

I tend to make a list of everyone we buy presents for and cross them off when I've bought something. I also make a list for Xmas cards.

Food-wise we've always just gone to the supermarket a couple of days before Xmas. This has mainly been because Ocado require a £90 min shop that week and we don't spend that much (it's usually just us for Xmas so not much more than a normal weekly shop). This year we've booked with Waitrose but we need to collect it.

Blu Fri 09-Nov-12 19:37:13

This year I will:

Post all the cards I found all ready to post but not posted when I found the Christmas card stash under the spare bed (I have no idea what year they were written, but the stamps will still be valid, won't they? They say '1st class', not an amount.

Order as much as possible online and have it delivered to the place we are staying for Christmas.

Tips:
Buy christmas cards, wrapping and especially crackers in the Jan sales - it is scandalous how much these things cost!
Buy the jars of raspberries from Lidl - tins of raspberries for the trifle are scandalously expensive and surprisingly hard to find.
Have as many 'no presents' pacts as possible with extended family and friends.
If staying with family over the hols, take your own sellotape, scissors, rubber gloves and favourite kitchen knife. And corkscrew.

ScorpionQueen Fri 09-Nov-12 19:50:37

~ Is is best to forward plan or stagger it? I do a combination of both. I have nearly finished my shooping and am ready to wrap. I will buy some food and drink in November and order my meat. Then I'll relax until a week before when I panic buy.
~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve? I have a spreadsheet this year. First time ever. smile
~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? ) Write a list of everything and either order online or delegate as much as possible. If you have to go to a supermarket, go in the middle of the night.
~ Whatever your Christmas preparations involve, we want to hear about it.
Train the kids to write the cards and put up the decorations from a young age.
Prepare as much as possible in advance.
M&S is your friend.
Drink lots of wine.
Remember, it is just one day, the shops will open again soon and if you have forgotten something, it won't matter.

HandbagCrab Fri 09-Nov-12 20:40:48

Last year I got my presents, cards and wrap from m and s online the week before Xmas. No one noticed I hadn't run round the shops trying to pick the perfect present. Therefore this is what I'm doing this year and probably for evermore unless there is an even easier way.

If you won't tell me what you want you are getting electronic amazon vouchers.

I'm going to buy lots of ready prepared food from either m and s or aldi.

Emergency presents are wine or choc in a gift bag. Cards are written for just close people, I can't be arsed doing them for everyone anymore.

The only exception to this is ds who will get whatever his little heart desires smile

AllSWornOut Fri 09-Nov-12 21:23:10

My top tip is to act on any thoughts you have about Christmas during the year - window shopping and see the perfect present for great grandma? Just buy it there and then, don't try to find it (if you still remember it) the week before Christmas. Ditto food shopping (at least for the long lasting things). And the same for ideas. Set aside a page in my diary (and my phone's to do list) and every time an idea pops into my mind I note it down. Then forget about it until November.

chocolateistheenemy Fri 09-Nov-12 22:01:05

I love Christmas...........
I'm so excited already.
DH is dreadfully busy as a Headteacher - it all falls to me to make it work, even though i hold down 3 jobs to supplement our income and pay our mortgage.
So.....what do I do?!!
I buy toys for my nieces with Tesco vouchers whenever there's a Clubcard voucher double value promotion...
I buy clothes the next size up for my kids and my 8nieces in the sales...
I shop Im charity shops as often as possible because it not only saves me money, it donates to a good cause!!

SoggyMoggy Fri 09-Nov-12 22:03:01

Every year, wait for those little wire reindeer to go on sale. You know, the silly yard ornament ones that have little motors in them to make them bob their heads about.

Buy two.

As the years go by you'll have a miniature robot deer army. Get creative, paint them funny colors. Make a sign that says, "We welcome our robot deer overlords!"

It makes giving directions to your house a breeze.

Livelongandprosper Fri 09-Nov-12 22:47:38

Now is a good time to start making an easy christmas wreath. I will be making the basic circle for mine tomorrow by cutting some flexible thinnish branches while I am out walking in the woods. I twist them together into a rough circle and fix in place with wire. At the beginning of December I will be cutting some bits of greenery and fixing on pine cones and whatever other nice bits I can find. Fix a ribbon to hang and it's done.

Pinkbatrobi Sat 10-Nov-12 00:02:31

I write down what children or friends say they like, or need, as and when, during the year, on a note in my phone called something in code so that it can't be opened by the kids snooping about, ie NOT Xmas! Then I refer to that during sales (starting in January for xmassy things, winter clothes etc) or shopping trips and see if I can buy at bargain prices, or look online, amazon, sometimes eBay. I keep a list to remind myself where I hide Xmas stuff so that I don't lose it and end up having to buy something else... In the spreadsheet I also have a column for budgeting so that I know I won't overspend. Then in about October November we have a girly day out with a couple of girlfriends and go to a big shopping centre to finish off what we are still missing from list, if anything. That way we can split car/tolls etc, have lunch together and then shop individually before meeting again for coffee and showing each other our finds. A real treat!! I also generally buy a few spare books that can be dished out in an emergency if there's some unexpected last minute panic. Last thing, I ask the children to prepare a box with any unwanted toys for any younger children who come to visit to chose something from, and if anything is leftover it goes to charity. This way they make space for the new things they will receive. For teachers and neighbours I bake special biscuits with the children and then package them on a nice dish, or little tray, or pretty basket etc.

3bunnies Sat 10-Nov-12 07:11:20

I collect presents together early, charity shop bargains throughout the year and bigger presents from September onwards. My aim this year is to wrap little and often so I don't have the usual last minute panic. Dh still believes in the wrapping fairy so I find myself up until silly o'clock trying to wrap the last bits.

Food shopping doesn't concern me as we always go to one parent or other, which isn't always easy, but does mean that we don't have to shop. We just have to study M25 traffic flow and work out when everyone else is travelling and try to avoid them! Christmas Day itself is generally a great day to travel as no cars anywhere.

We start doing Christmas decorations for presents around half term, becomes a little elf production line!

My children don't really get materialism - they don't watch adverts and the older ones (girls) hate shopping, though ds is good company on a shopping spree. As a result their list for Father Christmas is rather short - currently dd1 wants immortality (yeah living for ever not some game) and a mini personal aeroplane which turns into a pencil so she can fly to school and do her work - she is nearly 8. Neither of these are in the Argos 3 for 2 so have had to improvise!

I enjoy all the lights, advent callendars, carols etc in the run up to Christmas, we usually go to see a film, very keen to see Nativity2 as we all loved the first one. And it wouldnn't be the same without the Mumsnet Christmas thread!

GreatExpectations2012 Sat 10-Nov-12 07:35:45

My top tip for stockings is to wrap each child's presents in a different colour/design. I don't particularly like this for under the tree as it means everyone can 'see' their gifts rather than it being an exciting mixture for the youngest child to hand out. For stockings it's perfect though!

I only wrap the things that are individual to the child, anything that's the same for all children is popped into the stocking unwrapped as I know they need one each. We use white pillowcases as 'stockings', which is a tradition from my own childhood. I fill spare ones earlier in the day and swap them when the children are fast asleep. One of my favourite traditions, it must be said.

We also do a run up of 12 days of Christmassy activities before the big day including a trip or a donation to a local charity depending on which one we've chosen. We dropped soft toys to a special care unit one year (with prior permission) and mince pies to the staff of a special needs school another year on an agreed date. This year we are donating to an animal charity - they prefer to receive money that they can spend on the things they need. We will go to their offices with our donation and meet some of the dogs.

Things like this make me feel less stressed as I do the bulk of the preparation. I can see it's about so much more than just Christmas Day.

roguepixie Sat 10-Nov-12 08:56:07

I think I am always a little surprised that Christmas has arrived, to be honest. It's like it has carried out a sneak attack grin.

I try to forward plan as much as possible - I do not have a large family so present buying is not the horror it is for some. There is no need to spread it across days, weeks or months. I buy little things for DS's stocking from October onwards and will often buy a new decoration for the tree each year.

Tips include:

* write those card early (if you send them). They are in the shops from October and there is no rule to say you have to wait until December to write them.

*write a list of foods you need. Spread the purchase over the months preceding December and store. If you shop online - snag your delivery slot although I wouldn't pay for delivery so you may need to wait for the free ones.

*make your own mince pies, cakes etc. Pastry can be made and frozen and then thawed when needed. Christmas cake can be made and stored and can be made to whatever size you want.

* wrap early!! Many is the year I have been found surrounded by paper on Christmas Eve ... when will I learn!!!

* think about homemade/handmade gifts. Food items are lovely: biscuits for cheese, oatcakes, fudge etc. Do you knit - knit socks (there are not as hard as you think...I've just learnt) or scarves.

I love Christmas. I love the glitter, the tree, the food. I love Mass on Christmas Eve. I love family - even though they make me pull my hair at times. Oddly I married a man who couldn't care less about Christmas ... but we balance out at Christmas. smile

dreamygirl Sat 10-Nov-12 09:21:55

I am definitely a forward planner. For the past 8 or so years I've used a Christmas planner book or folder which I can't recommend enough. I record gift ideas and eventual purchases (to avoid repeating the same thing the next year), cards sent and received, store receipts etc. I also use it to write down what we all got and from whom, for ease of writing thank you letters. Last year I made my own planner from a website called Organized Christmas (they give you loads of free printable pages to record whatever you like) and this year I'm following their Christmas Countdown which aims to have you ready by Dec 1st so you can enjoy the festivities!! Despite all my planning, DH always reminds me that the 2 Christmases I call to mind as the ones I most enjoyed were 1999 when I'd had horrible flu and DH and my Dad had to do all the cooking etc (it was just the 3 of us) and 2004 when we were expecting to have moved house, hadn't and ended up spending it at my Dad & Stepmum's. So maybe some spontaneity is a good thing (but all the same there would be no presents or food if I didn't do the planning!!)

johnworf Sat 10-Nov-12 09:30:28

I start buying wrapping and cards in the January sales where you can pick them up for pennies. I buy all year round for people when I see deals or offers. I have a spreadsheet so I don't lose track of what I bought for whom.

I would emphasis that to me, Christmas is about family, in particular children, and catching up with those people that you've not see enough of during the year. Don't spend too much time in the kitchen or the shops. Cheat if need be. Most of all, have fun smile

vamosbebe Sat 10-Nov-12 10:18:35

I make my cards in November so they're ready to send in December, early to avoid the overseas cut-off.
I also make my own wrapping paper. When ds is older we'll make all of these together.
I make my own presents during the year, either sewn or brandy-soaked.
We don't go overboard for Christmas lunch as I cook it and I hate cooking. I have made my Christmas cake and it's now in a big tin getting its weekly feed. Cake and mince pies are the only food that makes Christmas feel Christmassy to me. Oh and maybe stuffing.
I know I sound like a lentil-weaving old scroogess, but I really do love Christmas - just not Christmas when I'm stoney broke.

Hulababy Sat 10-Nov-12 10:54:24

DD loved the first Nativity film; she's now v excited to hear of the next one!

Is is best to forward plan or stagger it?

Bit of both, but not too early.
I plan who I will be getting gifts for but never start buying til after Oct half term.
We kind of know what is happening over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day as it is same each year, but clarify around now.

~ Do you have a Christmas shopping list (and do you check it twice?!)? Or do you battle your way through the high street on Christmas Eve?

See above. I know who I will buy for and have a list on the computer which I update. I never start buying til after Oct half term, though not started yet. I will buy mostly online and have them delivered to DH's office. Def not a last minute buyer!

~ What are your Christmas shopping top tips? What about food shopping (snapped up that Ocado slot yet? )

Got my Ocado slot on day they were released for 23rd - I never do 24th in case they fail to show (thinking of Waitrose on last few years!!!) At moment it only has some fizz on to hold the slot. Will update it nearer the time.

there are so many threads asking for views in slightly changed wording - presumably everyone who wants their presence felt.

support your local shops is my top tip. it's nice having a shop around the corner so the extra 20p won't hurt

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