December can be such a busy month that it’s all too easy to feel stressed, rather than enjoying the weeks leading up to Christmas. With this in mind, we’ve highlighted some of the most important things you can be doing to get ready.
Start to write your gift list now – and not just the one you intend to send to Santa. You’ll feel far more organised, have a clearer idea of what your budget is and are also less likely to forget people. It always pays to buy a couple of extra, slightly more generic presents for any surprise visitors or those who simply slip your mind.
Pull last year’s artificial tree out of storage and see how it’s holding up; remember that there will be fresh trees in store during December. Give some thought to your seasonal colour scheme – do you fancy bright and bold reds and greens, silver and white, or statement gold? Click here for decoration inspiration.
Do a duty shop – it may not seem as much fun as shopping for festive bits and pieces, but it’s almost as important. Set aside some time in November to stock up on essential household items such as baking paper, foil, cleaning products, batteries, as well as the usual storecupboard staples – flour, condiments, oil and vinegar.
If you’re hosting the Christmas meal this year it’s worth totalling up the number of guests you’re expecting: do you have enough cutlery, glasses and serving plates, not to mention chairs and space around the table to seat everyone? Better to discover early on that you’re short than well into December.
Tradition dictates that you make your Christmas pudding on Stir-up Sunday, which this year falls on 22 November. But there’s no need to wait till then to get your bake on. Fill your freezer with cookies and mince pies that you can cook from frozen, plus a few standby suppers (fish pie, curry for a crowd, a hearty soup or two).Your future frazzled Christmas self will thank you.
For die-hard fans, the success of the Christmas meal can be judged on the gravy alone. In December you’ll find a recipe for a speedy gravy to make on the big day, but if that seems like too much stress, whip up a batch now, pop it in the freezer and defrost on Christmas Eve. For added flavour, roast chicken wings for the base.
Chutneys, pickles and preserves are festive food stars – great for perking up seasonal sandwiches, adding glamour to cheeseboards and using to put together quick canapés. Get ahead of the game by making your own spiced Christmas chutney – the flavours benefit from having a few weeks to mature. Decanted into a stylish jar decorated with a handwritten label, it will be a gorgeous gift.
Get out your diary or open that iPhone planning app and make some notes. When do you need to pre-order your turkey from Spinneys? What’s the last date for posting cards and presents internationally? When do the school holidays begin?
Find ready-to-cook stuffed and rolled turkey breasts, fresh and festive ingredients and gifts galore in selected Spinneys stores this December