Taking Christmas in your stride is not a gift everyone has.
Taking Christmas in your stride is not a gift everyone has. shironosov

Presence of mind as count down to silly season begins

CHRISTMAS is mental for mums. And any single thing that I can do to make it a bit easier is gold. Here are my tips on how to start preparing for Christmas right now.

START PICKING UP A FEW LONG-LIFE PANTRY ITEMS OR FROZEN GOODS NOW: When you do your weekly or fortnightly grocery shop, consider picking up some items that have a long shelf life that you will use over the Christmas period. Good examples of grocery items to put away include frozen party pies and sausage rolls, napkins and paper plates, frozen vegetables, fruit cake, wine and other alcohol, and potato chips.

PICK UP A GIFT CARD OR TWO WHEN SHOPPING: $5 or $10 gift cards are easy and well-received Christmas gifts for neighbours, friends or extended families. Not only that, if you buy a gift card from the supermarket every time you shop you can then use these cards yourself for the big Christmas shop that needs to be done in December.

TALK TO THE FAMILY ABOUT GIFT GIVING: I don't think everyone should buy Christmas gifts for every person in the family. Not only is this financially stressful, it isn't necessary. Personally, I think extended families should only buy for kids under 12 - and then only have a limit. But if your family is into gift giving consider having a maximum amount (say $5 or $10), or hand-made gifts.

SET UP A CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR THE SILLY SEASON: With the end-of-school concerts, family get-togethers and parties, it is really hard to remember what is coming up and when. Think about printing a large calendar (or printing two A4 calendars and putting them together) to stick somewhere you will see it every day.

PRINT OFF A CHRISTMAS GIFT LIST: Plan ahead what gifts you have, what you need and your budget. Ever thought of a great idea of what to get someone and then forgotten it (yep me too!) - this will help you out. Keep the list out of sight, though.

THINK ABOUT YOUR CHRISTMAS MENU IN ADVANCE: If it is hotter than the sun at your place on Christmas Day then think about your menu and what is do-able or easy to achieve. Seafood is a popular choice in Australia, as is a barbecue lunch with fancy salads and a cold dessert.