It’s the most wonderful time of the year, where not even a creature is stirring, for Christmas time is here. Now, I know the festive season might strike horror in some of my readers, but for me, I love what it represents. Its about giving back to others, and making them feel special, whether that be loved ones, or a charity of your choice. I usually donate to a charity at least once a month, but set aside money for Christmas to donate a larger amount to go to my chosen charity. This is because they need our help, more than ever during the festive season, and it feels good to give back. Speaking of giving, whether you are giving gifts for a vegan Christmas, for your favourite mermaid queen, or chocolate fanatic, making a Christmas countdown to do list, is so important. Why? Because it is so easy to get overwhelmed during the festive season, and I know that feeling all too well.
So this season, put your feet up, relax, and let the countdown to do list, take the stress out of your life. From sending beautiful Christmas cards to your loved ones, to wrapping up your Christmas presents, here is how you can have a stress-free Christmas season. Below are to do lists that everyone should follow, as well as a seperate list for those who are hosting this year.
To Do Lists For Everyone
Draw Up A List Of Gifts For Your Loved Ones
First things first, let’s make sure that you know what you are going to get your loved ones this year. A huge part of a successful Christmas countdown to do list, is being organized. Now, I don’t know about you, but I love giving other people gifts. Watching them light up with a smile, as you surprise them with something special, is for me, the greatest part of the season. I know that gifts are not everything, and that we shouldn’t be so focused on ‘material things’, but I love giving people gifts more than I like receiving them. However, buying, organizing and planning the gifts can be very stressful, especially when you have a lot of people to buy for.
Unless you can read people’s minds, there is always the anxiety that your loved ones might not like your gift. After all we all have friends or family, that are incredibly hard to buy for. Still, it is important to remember that it is the thought that counts, right? So in order to figure out what gifts your loved ones would like, make a list of their interests. Let’s say you are buying for your cousin’s girlfriend, who likes Disney movies, writing, reading, and always has her nails painted a different colour. She is artistic, loves animals (particularly rodents), and is obsessed with candles, with at least 20 candles in her collection. So you can see, she has a varied range of interests. Christmas Gift ideas for her can include bath bombs, a subscription to Disney + (well worth it), and a beautiful bespoke journal. As she already has a lot of candles, you might decide to give her something different, such as a rodent cuddly toy, an adoption certificate for her favourite rodent who lives happily in the wild, or even her favourite book.
Sometimes however, people are hard to read, and while you know their interests, you also know they are not ‘interested in material things’. So what do you get them? It has to be something meaningful, that comes from the heart. Instead of generic gifts like flowers and chocolates (as nice as they are!), get something unexpected. Let’s say they are a person like my aunty, who does not like much in the way of presents. They prefer practical presents like a gift set from Nivea for their sensitive skin, but you want to get them something different. A lovely small framed photo, for her to put on her mantlepiece, and personalized photo mug for coffee, would be great gift ideas. Why? Because it is something different, and shows that you are thinking of her. I always say that photos are a great way of capturing memories, so what could be a better gift?
My partner is another one who is difficult to buy for, but I always pick up things he says in conversations carefully. It could be a game that he would like , a couples game for bonding, something that you feel he needs to relax like a massager, a thoughtful gift like an engraved keyring, practical gifts for grooming, and accessories that you know he will love. I always listen very carefully to what people have to say, as they drop subtle hints about the types of gifts that they would like. Sometimes knowing people’s interests is not enough, so make sure you listen to what they have to say. With kids, it can be easier, as you can get them to write a list of gifts they would like for Christmas, and get Santa to pay a special visit.
Send Christmas Cards To Your Loved Ones
It goes without saying that Christmas cards are a huge part of a Christmas experience. While I don’t get nearly as many cards as I used to growing up, I still feel like Christmas cards are a must. When you are doing your Christmas countdown to do list, cards should be a high priority. Whether you buy your Christmas cards a year in advance from charity shops (like my Aunty does), make your own Christmas cards, buy from small businesses, or pop to your local supermarket, Christmas cards are everywhere.
This year, I have decided to do something special, with christmas card printing from Aura Print. Not only can they print your custom Christmas cards in any size or fold you need, but there is also a quick turnaround, in as little as two days (from approval). The cards are foil-pressed which makes your Christmas cards ‘look luxe’, and there are a number of colours available including silver, rose gold and holograpgic to name a few. You can also customize the design of your Christmas card, where the internal designer can create a digital proof, you can edit one of their premade templates, or even create your exact vision. You can also customize your ‘printing options’, whether that be soft-touch lamination, or double-sided printing.
As you can see above, and below, my Christmas card is quite traditional, and that’s because I know what my loved ones like. While I might be colourful, and out there, my loved ones are not. They prefer something a little more minimalist, albeit with character, which is exactly why I chose these beautiful blue cards. They get the point across, are still bold and vibrant, and comes with plenty of space in the cards to write long, and elaborate messages. For someone who writes a lot (duh) like me, having a larger, portrait style card, is the perfect way to get your message across. My loved ones loved their Christmas cards from Aura Print. and thought that they were super cute! Depending on how many people you are sending cards to, these custom cards help you relax, as they do all the work for you!
If you need to get last minute cards, then of course your local supermarket, corner shop, or charity shop, should have some wonderful Christmas cards for you to give to your loved ones. Or if you want to do something different, you can try making your own digital ‘E-Cards’ on Canva, where you can customize the colour, design, and message, based on pre-made templates, or your own from scratch. I like to use templates as a starting point, and then change it up, so it is personalized from me. I am not a graphic design wizard, even if I have a good eye for colour, and design, so Canva really is a lifesaver!
Shop Online For Must Have Gifts
If like me, you are pressed for time, online shopping is honestly a saviour. You should ask my Amazon Prime account, it knows! While I do enjoy shopping, I have severe anxiety, so shopping in store can be very overwhelming. There are the huge crowds, the long queues, and of course, the noise, which can be very triggering for anyone who is anxious, or is stressed. That’s why online shopping is a great way to get your Christmas gifts on the go, or from the comfort of your own home. This is especially prevalent if you are shopping for gifts last-minute, and need amazing gifts to bring Christmas joy.
I mentioned that Amazon Prime is fantastic for last-minute gifts, and it certainly helped me out this year. I was able to find 70% of all the Christmas gifts that I needed on there, and it came the next day. This meant I could wrap the presents quickly, and efficiently, as I didn’t have to wait weeks for some of the presents. The 30% that wasn’t on Amazon, was special one of a kind gifts that took several weeks to arrive. It is important to note that bespoke gifts can take longer to arrive during the festive season, so don’t buy these last minute! If you are struggling to come up with ideas for gifts, then websites like Amazon Prime, Prezzybox, Yvonne Ellen, Buyagift, and Red Letter Days are all brands I would reccomend, for quirky, one of a kind gifts, that will put a smile on even the grumpiest persons face.
For bespoke picture gifts, My Picture, and Snapfish are fantastic, as you can buy everything from magic mugs, to puzzles, canvases, framed photos, and photo prints at an affordable price. I have personally used all these brands mentioned, time and time again, because they are reliable, provide good quality gifts, and are affordable for someone who is on a budget like myself. One of my personal favourites is Firebox, which has unusual gifts, that you won’t find anywhere else. From a Levitos Cosmo light for gravity defying illumination, to a twilight laser projector, Firebox has a magical selection of gifts that would be amazing for anyone’s special Christmas. These are all brands I have shopped from this Christmas myself, and I have to say they are amazing! So make the most of your Christmas countdown to do list, and shop online today!
Wrap Up Your Christmas Presents
Wrapping up Christmas presents can take an age, so I always find it helpful to wrap bit by bit, so you don’t get overwhelmed. Try to plan some time out to dedicate to wrapping your presents, and put some relaxing music in the background, to help you focus. Instead of doing everything all in one go (which I have been guilty of many a time), wrapping your presents slowly, can help you be mindful during the Christmas season. You can get your wrapping paper from the supermarket, or order online if you are isolating, and differentiate people’s presents with name tags, different wrapping paper, and ribbons and bows. I am not the best at wrapping presents, but my skills definitely improved after all the presents I needed to wrap!
I also like to give gifts to charities, and tend to visit my local supermarket, which has a food bank that donates to those who need it. I will usually do a big shop, full of vegan, vegetarian, and non-vegetarian food, so there is something for everyone, and try to be mindful of those who might have allergies. I make sure there are some ‘free-from items’, and try to buy things that are non-perishable so that they last longer for those who need it. This might be pasta, rice, lentils, chickpeas, and cooking sauces, to name a few. While I don’t wrap these Christmas presents up, if I can, I will include a Christmas card, as well as a donation to the charity, and some stick-on ribbons, bows, or anything sparkly, to make them smile.
Regarding wrapping presents, one helpful tip that I find useful, is using a different colour, texture, or print for each person’s present. This is only if you have less gifts to give, and is probably not suitable for those with large families. Regardless, to give you an example, I would use a different wrapping paper for my partner, a different one for my aunty, and the same one for both my cousin, and his girlfriend. This helps me differentiate between each person’s present, without even needing to check the name tag. It reduces confusion and helps my Christmas countdown to do list run smoothly.
Decorate Your Home For Christmas
Christmas isn’t Christmas without a Christmas decoration or two. Even if you have a room in a shared house, you can still make the Christmas magic come alive. We moved to a flat recently, so now have a place to ourselves, but not so long ago, I had a double room in a shared home, with 9 other people. Last year, I decorated my room with a mini Christmas tree, wrapped in tinsel and baubles, as well as a Christmas tree topper. It was something small, but nevertheless made a huge difference, especially when I was going through a shitty time that year. This year, we pulled out all the stops, and our living room became a winter wonderland. There was a large Christmas tree decked out with all the trimmings, as well as figurines, ribbons, and bows on the mantlepieces, figurines in the bookcase, and even an elf on the shelf, doing its thing.
Our table had a Christmas tablecloth, while a festive candlestick, matching tableware, and the obilgatory candle collection, helped bring the Christmas magic to life. We also layered ‘greens’, and no I don’t mean Broccoli, Cabbage and Brussel Sprouts. I am talking about pine, spruce, and juniper, which was adorned with birch twigs, and winter berries, for a pop of colour, that felt oh, so festive. We also made sure to create very colourful Christmas decor, which matched my aesthetic, and taste in interiors. While we used traditional colours like reds, and greens, we also complemented this with unexpected pops of colours, like blues, and oranges, for a clash, that worked ever so well. However we all have different tastes so its up to you, as to how you decorate your home for Christmas.
Want to do something different that is 100% Faded Spring approved? Instead of baubles, tinsel, and glitter, why not decorate your Christmas tree with floral wraps or garlands instead? You will have the Frida Kahlo of Christmas trees, which is bold, original and creative. You can go monochromatic with varying shades of the same colour (like pink), go mis-matched, or have a colour theme or pattern going on. If you prefer traditional decor, plaid is a great pattern that helps bring the festive season to life, while red, and green are the colours you can use for your Christmas decor. Remember, you can be as minimalist or as maximalist as you like. The decor just has to represent you.
Donate To Your Favourite Charities
Christmas is about the spirit of giving, and there are those who need it most. Whether you support homeless charities, animal welfare protection charities, cancer charities, or mental health support, donating is something that should be at the top of your Christmas countdown to-do list. It does not have to be money, it could be something as simple as buying a sandwich for a homeless person who is on the street, donating toys to a children’s hospital, or giving your clothes to a charity of your choice. Whatever you choose, find a way to give back. As well as donating to a food bank, I do regular trips to charity shops with clothes, and will do a random act of kindness at least once or twice a week. That might be buying food for someone on the streets, volunteering at an animal shelter, or fundraising.
I also donate to charities each month, with a bigger donation at Christmas. This year I supported two vital charities: Mind ( a mental health support charity), and Blue Cross (an animal charity). Mind, I support because of my own mental health issues (Anxiety, Depression, PTSD), and am grateful for the work that they do to campaign for mental health. From improving services, to raising awareness and promoting understanding, Mind is incredible. For over 70 years, they have tirelessly created public campaigns, and influenced key decision makers, including the government, to make much needed changes. Blue Cross is also fantastic, as they care for sick, injured, and abandoned pets. From rehoming, free veterinary treatment, and pet bereavement services, Blue Cross does wonders. You can even sponsor animals to make sure that they get a loving home, and get the happines that they deserve.
Of course your chosen charity is down to you. Just think about a cause that is dear to your heart, and the ways that you would like to make a difference this year. It might be that someone close to you had cancer (like my Aunty did), a relative has dementia, or you want to give back to local, small-scale charities that need your help. I like to support a mixture of small and large scale charities, and try and support new charities that have causes close to my heart, so that I am supporting them in their journey as well.
If You Are Hosting
Finalize Your Christmas Menu
Hosting can be a lot of fun, but if you aren’t organized, it can be very easy to get bogged down in the details. To have a successful Christmas countdown to do list, you must establish your priorities. One of the most important things you must do when you are hosting, is finalize your Christmas menu. For example, how many people will be attending? Do they have any allergies or dietary requirements. For example, my cousin is hosting us for Christmas, and he has to take into account my dietary requirements and allergies. I am a vegetarian, who is allergic to mushroom, aubergine, courgette and caffeine. His girlfriend is a pescatarian, but largely eats vegetarian, while Aunty is a meat eater, but can’t eat certain things like Pork, peppers, fat, ect. because she had stomach cancer. While she is cancer-free now, part of her stomach was cut, which means she can only digest certain things. My partner is a meat eater, but also does not like certain foods.
So as you can see, you have a varied range of allergies, and dietary requirements, that you should take into consideration when creating the menu. You have to be mindful as to what people can and can’t eat. While that can be stressful, you would be panicking a lot more if someone had an allergic reaction. Allergies aside, taking personal preferences aside is important, especially when someone does not eat meat. Make sure that everyone’s food is exciting, flavoursome, and well-thought out. Create meals that you know your guests will like, and check in with them before you finalize the Christmas menu. As well as your main meal, also plan out snacks, breakfasts, and lunches, as well as drinks, because we all know the festive season is a chance to indulge.
Have a mixture of vegan, vegetarian, and non-vegetarian snacks, and make sure you are clear about what people are eating. Many times I have been given something where they have told me it is vegetarian, and it is not. Or that it is something I am not allergic to, which I am. Now, I check the packaging for everything, so I am 100% clear on what I am being given.
Stick To A Budget To Keep Track Of Spending
Speaking of shopping, your Christmas countdown to do list, should always have a clear-set budget. It will help you keep on top of your finances, and stop you from spending more than you can afford. Its ok to spend a little extra this festive season, but just be mindful about what you can afford. This is important not only for buying gifts but for anything Christmas related. For example how much you spend on Christmas decor, Christmas food shopping, presents, travel, and entertainment to name a few.
You should have a set budget for each activity, so you know exactly how much money you spent on everything. For example you would allocate more of a budget to Christmas gifts, than Christmas decor presumably. The same goes for Christmas meals, as opposed to how much you spend on cleaning your house. It is all about priortizing your budget, especially if money is tight. If you don’t have a lot of money , don’t be ashamed. It’s ok to not have much, and people aren’t going to judge you for that. Keep things simple, and set a limit. Let your food be the star of the occasion, and focus more on the time that you spend together as opposed to how much money you spend.
Creating a list of everything that you think you may be spending money on over the holiday really helps as well. For example, it might look something like this: gifts, food, travel, decorations and deliveries. You might spend a bit more than you expected, but just make sure it is not more than you can afford. We know that January can be a hard month financially, so don’t go above your means. Another way to save money, is to create homemade gifts, to cut back on gift spending. It could be thoughtful gifts like a coupon book, which has a list of activities that you might like to do together i.e. a restaurant, a novelty gift like a homemade Christmas jumper, or even something craftsy like making your own bath bombs.
And most importantly…. don’t forget to have fun!
What Is On Your Christmas Countdown To Do List?
Please note this is a collaborative post but all thoughts are my own and are not affected by monetary compensation.