After last week’s planning, which included finalising where you shall be spending Christmas and booking your travel, you can start to look at the next step: fully executing the Christmas list.
People often say: “I don’t want a gift in return; I love just giving gifts at Christmas”. What a load of old twaddle. Rarely has a well-thought-out, expensive gift handed over by an eager gift giver, only for the friendly “Santa type” not to accept it. Eye brows are usually raised if the price of the gift is not comparable to the money you have indeed spent yourself. Few people would be pleased giving £200 food hampers, or jewellery, only to get a £4 box of Quality streets in return.
This week start by setting your budgets per person. Looking back at what people have given you in the past is always a good guide .
Every year there are people that say “I don’t care about Christmas”, and yet for a decade now you have gone to great lengths to include them, and their changing partners over the years, to not have your gifts ever reciprocated or returned in any way — usually with the addage of “I am in South Africa for Christmas” and “I didn’t know we were exchanging gifts this year”. Odd, given for eight years prior you have bought them a gift never to have them returned. The sad fact is that their refusal to buy gifts is not about the money. It is the effort. If you give a gift most times, you don’t expect one in return, but if you go to a lot of effort and it’s ignored, it hurts. Especially because when you go to a lot of effort, it normally means you really love Christmas and your friend hasn’t ever seen that it is important to you.
So it is time to write your list and check it twice. Budgets are not bad things either. It also gives you a guide of what your bill will be at the end of the old festive din. Then stick to it. Start seeking gifts for that £5, or £10 on Amazon and Google. (Just remember the postage.) Amazon Prime offers a one month free trial in most cases so it might be a god idea to sing up to that on 25 November to reap the benefits without the potential cost. It is a great service, but if you chose not to take it full time, don’t forget to cancel it before Christmas day.
Some of the best gifts, but potentially the most expensive, are homemade advent calendars. These can be in the format of a predesigned wooden box with drawers, or a cardboard one. Wooden ones set a precidant that, sadly, mean you will need to supply this on an ongoing basis or trade in your partner for a less expectant one. The drawers can be constrictive and finding 24 tiny cute gifts can be tough.
Other ideas for the more craft minded people out there are: pockets on a large sheet — especially good with kids — or crocheted envelopes or the like. Or even a simple washing line with bags for each day.
It is a good time to do the research, see what would work best for your loved ones, and how best you can complete this. When in doubt, the notion you have thought outside the box will usually win you points; a box of chocolates empties quite well into those tiny little drawers. If you remind them that anything coming out the advent calendar contains no calories what so ever, you might be able to never wash a dish again.
Last year you could not walk anywhere without being blinded by the river of polyester that was, or more accurately is, the Christmas jumper. eBay has already started selling them with postage included for a little under £10. There is no escaping the Christmas jumper of nastiness that has arrived; it is on steroids, and outside of a worldwide obliteration of the nylon, polyester wool blend. Sadly it is not going anywhere soon.
So embrace it. Find one that is not to utterly foul, or heaven forbid doesn’t blink, flash, sing, or have a 3D woolen creation on the front of it and buy it. If you do not, someone will give you one in the office secret Santa, and then you know it will have flashing lights, bells, a rotating Santa head like something out of Chucky, and you will be forced to wear it every day for a week.
Give in and take what little control you have over the situation; accept a snowman or Christmas pudding and accept it as the lesser of two evils.
It is just two weeks away from realistically having to put up your Christmas tree. Decide this week if you are going to have one, and what size and type it will be. If you are an eight-footer spruce person, best get ordering. Else if you are a ring tree person and want nothing larger than a dinner plate in your home then time to find it. Else someone will feel bad for you, and bring you one of their five spare trees, and you’ll be stuck with singing blinking Christmas lights causing seizures together with your flashing dancing Christmas jumper.
The one really good thing about Christmas is the parties. The office party always ends up with a bottle of wine spilled on a fabulous piece of fashion, a random snog here or there and someone will always drink to much and talk the biggest amount of crud to everyone stupid enough to stand still long enough to be caught by them.
Take this week to plan your own party. This may mean hiring out your favourite café and hosting your own big bash, or having a night out with a few of your nearest and dearest. What ever you decide, book your people now, before they get booked up to the point you all only have 3pm on a random Sunday — usually the week before Christmas — to see each other.