Your ultimate Christmas countdown to-do list

Cassie Pryce

1. It's a date

At the start of December, update your calendar and fill in the festive activities that are taking place for each member of the family.

This should include anything from school carol concerts, neighbourhood drinks parties and the arrival and departure dates of any overnight guests so you can easily plan ahead for the whole month and avoid any double-booking during this busy period.

2. Deck the halls


Ornament box, £10; festive chamr baubles, £20 for 100; sequin peacock bauble, £2; chunky navy tinsel, £1; geometric tree candle, £5; mercury gold glass diamond decoration, £2, all Dunelm

Take stock of all your Christmas decorations and make a list of any new ones you need to buy before dressing the house.

Chances are, baubles may have seen better days or the tinsel could be in a tangle, so hit the shops early to pick up replacements.

High street stores are full of the latest Christmas trends at the moment so you’ll be spoilt for choice!

Here's how to make your own Christmas decorations

3. Plan the feast


Image via Love This Pic

With Christmas dinner being the main feature of the day in many households, we recommend getting organised early when it comes to sorting the food and drink.

Pre-book your delivery slot now to make sure the turkey and all the trimmings arrive in good time but not so early that there isn’t room in the fridge, plus it will still leave you with time to pop to your local shop and pick up any forgotten items.

Get inspired with our Christmas recipes

4. Get baking

There are plenty of snacks and puddings that can be made well ahead of time to save yourself stress come the festivities.

Think about pre-making nibbles like sausage rolls and pies that can be frozen and quickly heated up when unexpected guests arrive.

Ideally, Christmas cake should be made around 12 weeks in advance in order for it to mature with the alcohol, but even early December should still produce a tasty bake.

5. Put pen to paper

Aim to send out Christmas cards in early December so that recipients can enjoy them for longer and you can avoid the Post Office rush!

This year, the last posting dates are 21st December for first class and 20th December for second class, but be sure to visit the Royal Mail website or your local Post Office to check overseas delivery times.

6. All wrapped up


The Christmas wrap collection, £5 per sheet, £10 for three sheets or £15 for five sheets, all The Handmade Christmas Co

Once you’ve completed your Christmas shopping, don’t put off wrapping the presents until the last minute. Kit yourself out with a clear table to use as a wrapping station, a well-stocked tape dispenser and sharp scissors, as well as adornments such as tags and ribbons.

Set aside a few hours one afternoon and try to blitz the whole lot in one go if possible so you can tick it off your list and keep surprise gifts away from prying eyes.

7. Buy your showstopper


7.5ft Les Deux Alpes tree, £140; tree decorations, from £6; Gold starburst tree topper, £16; large feather decorations, £12 each; Biba gold lantern, £95, all House of Fraser

Putting up the tree sets the scene for the festivities and marks the start of Christmas in many homes.

If you opt for a real tree, look for a non-drop fir to save on mess and position it in a cool spot in the house, away from radiators or direct heat sources.

A healthy tree can last around 5-6 weeks inside if it’s cared for properly, so ask the vendor for some tips on how to keep it looking fresh for longer.

8. Be our guest


Brushed cotton stars duvet set, from £13; super-soft tree print blanket, £14; mirror geometric side table, £79; ombre vase, £8, all George Home

If you’re expecting visitors over the holiday season, give your home a thorough clean before they arrive and get their sleeping arrangements in order in advance.

If you have a spare bedroom, make guests feel welcome by adding a few homely touches such as slippers, fresh flowers and cosy blankets and leave a note with the Wifi password, too.

Clear out a couple of drawers to store clothes in, so guests won’t feel like they’re intruding on your space during their stay.

9. Table settings


Gingerbread boy cookie cutter, 89p; white and pink decorating icing, £2.09 each; sprinkle snowflake decoration, £5.99, all Wilton

Lay the table before guests arrive to save yourself time and stress on the day. Arrange napkins, crackers and place cards, as well as little favours such as chocolates or sweets for everyone if you’re feeling generous.

Why not get creative and make your own finishing touches for added homemade charm, such as a beautiful floral arrangement with candles as a centrepiece?

10. Big day details

Come Christmas day, you’ll want to relax and spend time with the family, so make a list of all the little details that need to be ready.

Decide and make a festive playlist and have it ready to go or assign this job to the tech-whizz of the family.

Make sure you have fresh batteries on hand for the kids’ new toys and check that board games are well-stocked with pencils and paper.