Today, Christmas Eve, can often be more stressful than The Big Day itself, and the best way of dealing with this is to draw up a strict timetable and stick to it.
I thought my avid followers might find helpful guidance in my own schedule for the day when I last did the deed myself (a few years ago now I’m pleased to say). Note that I used the 24-hour clock in all timings as this adds a note of brisk efficiency.
05.25: get up and locate next year’s diary and open at the kilos-to-pounds conversion table. Put the diary in a prominent place so that it is easy to find on Christmas morning. Return to bed.
06.25: get up and make list of where important things are located – eg “diary on top of fridge; turkey in next door’s garage; emergency silver foil in airing cupboard; list of useful telephone numbers next to telephone”.
07.00: gather all leaflets showing the opening times of local shops over the Christmas period and pin these to the inside of the front door. Check that the “small change in the event of carol singers” is in the appropriate tin and the label is clearly visible.
08.55: transfer the remaining items on General Shopping List to the Last Minute Shopping List. Throw away the first list to avoid confusion.
09.40: mark the television programmes you want to watch in yellow highlighter pen and those you want to record in red highlighter pen. Add “highlighter pens” to the Last Minute Shopping List.
10.10: add “Discuss Christmas pudding timings” to the Things to Do List. Spend some time updating Things to Do List by ticking items you have already done. Make the first of your hourly checks on Christmas tree to ensure that it is still perpendicular. Initial the chart hanging on the tree after every check.
11.05: make sure that nobody else in the household has a list. This is very important, which is why I always underline it on my timetable, even though I normally live alone. The existence of parallel lists can lead to serious breakdowns in organisation, like multiple buying of parsley, confusion over Christmas pudding timing, location of emergency silver foil and Christmas dinner seating plan.
12.45: pk grns at CR and pdl. I am not sure now what this means, but it has been on my schedule for the past eight years, so it must be important. In 2001 it had three exclamation marks next to it. In 2002 it was in red highlighter pen.
14.05: add “Put on Christmas Carol CD at 22.30” to Things to Do List. Also make a note that it tends to go all wobbly on In the Bleak Midwinter possibly due to a smudge of last year’s marzipan.
16.00: remove half empty bottles of bubbly bath essence and shower gel from bathroom cupboard to make room for new arrivals tomorrow. Place the old ones in a box marked “Old Bath Essences etc” and store the box in next door’s garage.
19.05: make a list of all the people who sent you Christmas cards, but were not on your Christmas card list. Open a computer file of names and addresses of people you missed this year. Make different columns, according to whether the cards they sent were “religious” or “landscape” or “light-hearted”.
20.15: add “Wipe down all CDs at 22.00” on Things to Do List. Allow some time for staring out of the window. Take stock. Think of all the things you have done which were not actually on your Things to Do List, add them to that list and then tick them off.
21.25: make another spot check to be sure that nobody else in the family has started up a new rival list. Confiscate it and tear it into very small pieces. Arrange in the cartons of milk in the fridge in order of “use by” date.
21.30: deliver a Christmas card (preferably “landscape”) to the people next door to thank them for the use of storage space in their garage. While you are visiting them, see if you can get a surreptitious peep at their list in case they have put you down for a present. If so, go to the box marked “Old Bath Essences etc” and top up one of the bottles for them. It can be wrapped in silver foil. (Emergency roll in airing cupboard.)
23.00: compile a list of e-mail numbers of far-flung friends and relations you wish to contact on Christmas Day. You could also e-mail those you should have sent cards.
23.40: fit in some further pacing. And make sure the chart on the Christmas tree has been initialled regularly.
23.50: start to compile a timetable for next Christmas and, on the Things To Do List, write: “Double check, when you deliver card to next door neighbours, that they are not going away late on Christmas Eve, taking the key to their garage so that your turkey is locked away for next five days.”
I wish you a foolproof Christmas.
Coming up next …
I’m away on my Christmas holidays from 20 December until 4 January. I’ve scheduled some seasonal postings to keep your Christmas spirit topped up (RJG take note!).
- 25 December – It’s still not too late to sign the Santa clause
- 01 January – 12 useful things for today
Happy Christmas to one and all, may your Yuletide be filled with warmth, happiness and good cheer.