Start Early For Stress-free Festivities

Istockphoto © Christmas to do list Pic: Istockphoto

It’s less than 100 days to Christmas – how did that happen? Follow our definitive guide to getting sorted early this year!

The countdown to Christmas has already begun and Thi Dinh, Event Director at The Spirit of Christmas Fair, which returns to Olympia London October 29-November 4 shares her festive checklist to help you get ahead this year!

  1. Christmas cake

How mature you like your Christmas cake comes down to personal taste. Traditionalists would argue it should be made as early as possible for optimum flavour. You will need to wrap the cake and store but “feed” with a spirit at regular intervals – roughly every few weeks to keep it moist. Add a couple of tablespoons of brandy, whisky or bourbon and rewrap the cake to keep it fresh.

A Christmas cake with icing Pic: Istockphoto

Pic: Istockphoto

  1. Book flights

If you’re flying to meet up with friends or family for Christmas, it’s best to book now! Last year 4.5 million Britons flew overseas at Christmas and with that demand, it is wise to book early to make sure you get a seat on the plane!

  1. Start your gift lists and buying early

It is not too early to write your gift list and start your shopping, especially if you have a big family or a notoriously difficult partner to buy for. Gifts can get repetitive so if you want to make more thoughtful purchases, start taking notes. Luxury sunglasses that got broken on holiday, birthday gifts that your friends were disappointed they didn’t receive, toys your children were fascinated by when visiting another family. By planning in advance, you will also have time to personalise gifts with monograming or opt for bespoke pieces. Gifts with a personal touch are hugely popular.  When you have time on your hands, you are more likely to stick to your Christmas budget and be more thoughtful about the purchases.

  1. Crafted gifts

Not all Christmas gifts are a fast and simple transaction. If you have a homemade present in mind, you won’t be the only one and need to make sure you get yourself in an orderly queue. Knitwear has exploded on the festive scene in recent years and if you have plans to commission a hand knitter for something truly personal, ensure you give them ample time to fulfil your order. Large items take time and Christmas will be a peak period where they will be juggling many orders.  And of course, if you’re knitting your own Christmas gifts – best to start sooner rather than later to save you knitting up until midnight on Christmas Eve!

Red mittens in the giftbox Pic: Istockphoto

Pic: Istockphoto

  1. Guest list

Now is a good time to open conversations about hosting the festivities or sharing the responsibilities. Discuss plans with various family members and compare diaries, ensuring no one is left behind.

  1. Book Christmas events

Christmas events attract the masses. If you enjoy the Christmas markets or panto, make sure you book before it’s too late. The UK’s biggest Christmas shopping event, the Spirit of Christmas Fair, is returning to London, Monday October 29 until Sunday November 4. Ring up your friends, book your tickets and start planning your visit!

A Christmas market Pic: Istockphoto

Pic: Istockphoto

  1. Make your beauty appointments

There are fewer places more hectic than beauty salons in the weeks before Christmas and during party season. For this reason, hairdressers and beauticians often urge clients to think ahead and get booked in early for December. In a popular salon there is no capacity for last minute requests during the Christmas countdown.

  1. Buying for your partner’s family

This can be extremely tricky, particularly at Christmas. You want to make a good impression all-round, but your budget isn’t limitless so where do you draw the line? Take your lead from your partner. If they are purchasing gifts for family members, it’s probably wise to buy joint presents but stick to the immediate family, you really don’t need to worry about the great aunt or cousin who visits once a year. And if you are spending Christmas with their family, one clever trick is to suggest Secret Santa-style gifting, that way everybody is clear on how many gifts they need to buy, who they’re buying for, and there is no worrying about budgets!

  1. “Emergency” presents

Everybody should have a ready supply of “emergency” gifts in the event of one-sided gifting, or when you’ve simply forgotten – nobody need know! Look for gender-neutral gifts such as food hampers, or wines and champagnes, but the key to not making it look like a last-minute supermarket buy (one of the two biggest faux pas in gifting), is to go for boutique brands, so pick some up when at shopping fairs or on holiday. And never, under any circumstances, re-gift presents you’ve been given (introducing faux pas number 2!) – these have a funny habit of making their way round to the original giver as they often tend to be used as emergency gifts in the first instance!

  1. Beat the crowds

Shops are more likely to be tidier and better displayed during off-peak time, making it easier for you to find what you’re looking for. Always plan for unexpected factors. Ordering gifts through the post may take longer than anticipated, especially during the holidays, so allow a generous time buffer for your snail mail. Or, perhaps you’ll find that you and a friend had the same gift idea for someone. Leave yourself enough time to make changes in case something unforeseen comes up!

The Spirit of Christmas Fair offers Christmas shoppers endless inspiration with an unrivalled collection of independent boutiques all under one roof – and there’s 825 to choose from! The Spirit of Christmas Fair first launched in 2001 and around 50,000 visitors flock to the fair annually. For more information visit

Allison Hay

I joined the My Weekly team ten years ago, and I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazine. I manage the digital content for the brand, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters. I also work for Your Best Ever Christmas - perfect as it's my favourite time of year!