The festive season may be a time of fun and plenty (in theory, anyway), but there’s a huge amount of preparation that goes into a truly successful Christmas. Here are 10 of the things that you really shouldn’t allow to slip your mind if you are to avoid those last minute ’emergencies’.

  1. Planning

This is the single most important thing not to forget. After all, with everything from the office Christmas party to your children’s nativity play to think about, you’ll be overcome with anxiety if you fail to follow such basic steps as putting together a ‘to-do’ list and spreading out those essential duties over the coming weeks in your diary.

  1. Christmas cards

This is the time of year when you suddenly seem to remember all of those family members you never actually meet, and you won’t want to be the only one in the family not to have sent them a Christmas card. So, make sure you make a list of all conceivable recipients to avoid repeat trips to the card shop when someone else pops to mind.

  1. Postal costs

Sending off presents to your far-flung relatives can get pretty expensive. To alleviate this, look for gifts that are light, non-breakable and easy to wrap, and include your Christmas card to the recipient in the same package to save you having to buy another stamp.

  1. Budget

It seems that we all plan to be frugal over the festive period, but so often find ourselves plunging into our overdrafts due to that costly present that we hadn’t initially expected to buy, or that party where we overspent on the sherries. So, by all means, agree a budget with your family – not too strict, and not too costly – but then stick to it.

  1. Tidying up

Those weeks of calm before the Christmas celebrations are the perfect period in which to declutter your home – not least to make space for everyone set to descend on your humble abode. Put last year’s unwanted gifts on eBay to raise present-buying funds, find a cupboard for all of that wrapping and make a flattering space for the Christmas tree – accounting for height and not just width!

  1. Food and drink

This aspect of your Yuletide shopping threatens to be such a headache with all of the queues – unless you take steps to avoid this, such as ordering online for home delivery or purchasing all non-perishable products well in advance. The turkey’s a natural essential, so order yours well ahead of time for collection on the 23rd.

  1. Stress management

With so much to plan, buy and organise, it’s easy to become overwhelmed – but don’t shirk your duties. Instead, practice effective stress management techniques such as breaking down everything that you have to do into smaller, less daunting chunks, or delegating tasks to other people where you can. Are the kids helping out enough with the washing up, for instance?

  1. Fashion

You won’t want to lag behind anyone in the style stakes at your Christmas party. Get an instantly glamorous look by pairing a statement necklace with a lightweight knit, and for your footwear, opt for a medium heel or a block heel with a platform to ensure the utmost comfort on the festive dance floor. Nor will a tasteful handbag go amiss for completing your look.

  1. Everything you need for wrapping

Sellotape, scissors, wrapping paper that isn’t embarrassingly out-of-date… they’re all the kind of things that you might expect to already be in your cupboard due to all of that shopping you did last year. However, you should always double check far in advance. Don’t forget those labels either, and make sure everything’s wrapped up ahead of the last Christmas posting dates.

  1. A smile

If you’re the host of the Christmas party, you’ll need to remember to provide the best possible hospitality, including that all-important festive cheer. Try to avoid those heated debates about politics or who should have brought the food course – unless all of that’s your “thing”, of course.

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