CHRIST­MAS COUNT­DOWN

It’s the most won­der­ful time of the year. Just in case you have not no­ticed it yet, the store­fronts are al­ready decked out for the pre­ferred sea­son. With only six weeks to go, re­al­sim­ple.com is mak­ing it easy with the ul­ti­mate Christ­mas time­line to en­sure

Jamaica Gleaner - - FUN AND GAMES - Source: http://www.re­al­sim­ple.com/hol­i­day­sen­ter­tain­ing/hol­i­days/christ­mas/ul­tim...

SIX WEEKS TO GO Make a mas­ter gift list

You may not have ev­ery de­tail filled in, but at least make sure you list ev­ery­one you’ll need to buy for, and think about what they’d like. That way you can pick up things as you see them, rather than run­ning to the mall at the last minute. In­clude your child(ren)’s wish lists as well.

Make a bud­get

Set a ball­park fig­ure of how much you can spend on gifts – it will help you stay grounded when the shop­ping turns into frenzy.

Start shop­ping

Yes, you may al­ready be pick­ing things up here and there, but the more you buy ahead, the bet­ter. If you have big-ticket items, like elec­tron­ics, you may want to get those first – you could save sub­stan­tially.

FOUR WEEKS TO GO Shop on­line

Or­der gifts now so you have lots of time to wrap them once they ar­rive.

Wrap gifts as you buy them. Not only will this keep lit­tle eyes from find­ing out what Santa is bring­ing, it will save you time on Christ­mas Eve.

Take stock of your dec­o­ra­tions

Get out your lights, or­na­ments, wreaths, etc. See if any­thing is bro­ken and needs to be re­placed. Is it time for an up­date? Get them now.

Check cut­lery

Make sure you have the serv­ing plat­ters and wine glasses you’ll need for par­ties or spe­cial meals. If not, now is the time to get those.

THREE WEEKS TO GO (FIRST WEEK OF DE­CEM­BER) Buy a live tree

This is a good time to get your tree, if you want it to stay fresh and re­tain its nee­dles through Christ­mas. Same goes for fresh green­ery or gar­lands.

Dec­o­rate!

You may be one who decks the halls as soon as Novem­ber ends, and that’s fine, but if not, by the first week of De­cem­ber, it’s time to get the house looking fes­tive.

Fi­nalise menus

If you’ll be serv­ing the hol­i­day meal, make sure you know what you’ll be cook­ing and what fam­ily mem­bers will be bring­ing. Start a mas­ter gro­cery list.

Or­der a ham

Or what­ever else is the cen­tre­piece of your hol­i­day meal – you don’t want to get caught short.

TWO WEEKS TO GO (SEC­OND WEEK OF DE­CEM­BER) Shop for non­per­ish­able items

Buy al­co­hol and any canned goods or pantry sta­ples you’ll need.

ONE WEEK TO GO Deep clean your house

You’ll en­joy those dec­o­ra­tions even more if the floors are clean and the kitchen is or­gan­ised. One im­por­tant task: Clear out your re­frig­er­a­tor. Toss old left­overs to make room for big dishes and in­gre­di­ents that’ll be pil­ing up closer to the hol­i­day.

Buy bat­ter­ies for chil­dren’s toys

If you haven’t stocked up while Christ­mas shop­ping, make sure you have all the ac­cou­trements nec­es­sary for that hand­held video game or re­mote-con­trolled car.

THREE DAYS BE­FORE Shop for fresh in­gre­di­ents

Hit the mar­ket for the last­minute veg­eta­bles or fruit you need for meals.

Set the ta­ble

So you use those gold-rimmed gob­lets only once a year? En­joy them! Go ahead and set the ta­ble. Make it even eas­ier on the big day by putting a sticky note on each plat­ter that states what dish you plan to serve on it. (That also al­lows peo­ple to help you with­out ask­ing 12 times).

TWO DAYS BE­FORE Start cook­ing

You’ve prob­a­bly socked away some things in the freezer al­ready, but now’s the time to prep main cour­ses and make any­thing that can sit for a cou­ple of days.

Buy fresh flow­ers

Whether they are for a party or a fam­ily meal, fresh flow­ers should al­ways be pur­chased two days in ad­vance. Blooms have time to open up, and they’ll still be lush and fra­grant.

THE DAY BE­FORE Recharge the bat­ter­ies on your cam­era or video recorder

You don’t want to miss the re­ac­tion on a lit­tle one’s face be­cause the bat­tery ran out dur­ing the school pageant the week be­fore.

Fin­ish last-minute wrap­ping and as­sem­ble toys that will be sur­prises from Santa.

Make a time­line for the next day

De­cide when you’ll be feast­ing, then count back­ward to de­ter­mine when to put the cake, ham or roast beef in the oven, and what else needs to be cooked.

IT’S CHRIST­MAS!

Fin­ish cook­ing. Sit back and re­lax.

En­joy your fam­ily and friends and rel­ish the tra­di­tions you share.

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