The Christ­mas plan­ner Fol­low our guide for an easy-breezy day

IS ‘LESS STRESS’ AT THE VERY TOP OF YOUR CHRIST­MAS WISH LIST? FOL­LOW OUR AC­TION­PACKED PREP GUIDE TO EN­SURE YOUR BIG DAY IS EASY-BREEZY AND EN­JOY­ABLE FOR EV­ERY­ONE

Home Beautiful - - CONTENTS - WORDS VANESSA KEYS

THERE’S NO DOUBT the pres­sure of plan­ning the per­fect Christ­mas Day can be a lit­tle over­whelm­ing. There are all the prac­ti­cal­i­ties to con­sider – mouths to feed, guest rooms to pre­pare, kids to en­ter­tain. Then there are the touches that turn a reg­u­lar day into the most mag­i­cal time of the year: home­made dec­o­ra­tions, serv­ing up Nan’s pud­ding and shar­ing gifts with loved ones. The ear­lier you start, the more achiev­able – and re­laxed – it all is. Here’s our go-to guide for the best Christ­mas Day yet.

PLAN YOUR MENU

“I love to get in­spired by a visit to my lo­cal fresh pro­duce mar­ket to check out what’s abun­dant and what’s in sea­son,” says HB food di­rec­tor Imo­gene Abady. “Then, I flip through mag­a­zines, cook­books and cre­ate a Pin­ter­est board so I can plan the look of my feast.”

FIN­ISH YOUR ON­LINE SHOP­PING

Leav­ing gift-buy­ing un­til the last minute can mean no one-of-a-kind presents, warns Alexis Teas­dale, founder of The Fes­tive Co. “You also need to al­low for ship­ping and the crazy-busy postal ser­vices,” she says. “I al­ways find trea­sures on etsy.com, hardtofind.com .au and no­ton­the­high­street.com.”

CHAT TO YOUR BUTCHER AND FISHMONGER

It pays to visit your go-to butcher and fishmonger in per­son – and well in ad­vance. Their ad­vice may sway your menu de­ci­sion and in­spire you to serve some­thing dif­fer­ent on the day.

MAKE A LIST, CHECK IT TWICE

Or­gan­i­sa­tion queen Re­becca Mezzino from Clear Space Or­gan­is­ing Ser­vices uses the four-week mark to crack out a new note­book and start mak­ing lists. “Keep­ing your lists in one place means you’ll feel to­tally in con­trol when things get busy,” she says.

TEST OUT THE GUEST ROOM

Ex­pect­ing any overnight guests? Be­fore they ar­rive, con­sider sleep­ing in your guest bed­room to try it out. This gives you time to fix the frus­tra­tions that you never knew ex­isted, such as buy­ing new blinds or in­vest­ing in a mat­tress top­per.

BRING THE OUT­DOORS IN­DOORS

Green­ery shouldn’t stop with your Christ­mas tree. “Plants bring a fresh, beau­ti­ful vibe into your home,” says in­te­rior stylist April Xing, owner of vin­tage store Tiki La La. She sug­gests giv­ing any new pur­chases four weeks to set­tle into their new sur­round­ings.

GET CRAFTY WITH THE KIDS

If you have small chil­dren, shelve the pre­cious or­na­ments for a few years and em­brace kid-friendly dec­o­ra­tions. “Make pom­poms, string them into bunt­ing and drape all over the tree,” says event stylist Alexis Teas­dale. “Fake flow­ers also look amaz­ing. Add pa­per­clip hooks to eas­ily slip them onto branches.”

DEEP CLEAN YOUR KITCHEN

Now’s the time to clean out your oven, scrub the stove­top and sort through sup­plies in the pantry and fridge to check ex­pi­ra­tion dates. Make a list of what you need to re­place so you’ll be stocked and ready to go when it’s time to start prep. Test out small ap­pli­ances to make sure they’re in work­ing or­der.

GET THE BAR­BE­CUE READY

Give your bar­be­cue a good clean and make sure that it’s set up in a safe area with plenty of workspace. Stock up on bot­tled gas and bar­be­cue wipes from Bun­nings – they’re great for keep­ing it look­ing good be­tween big clean-ups.

BEAT THE SU­PER­MAR­KET RUSH

Two weeks out is when tele­vi­sion chef Jus­tine Schofield likes to shop for non­per­ish­ables, beating the crowd. “Be­fore you go, check the pantry to en­sure you don’t dou­ble up on in­gre­di­ents such as herbs and spices,” she sug­gests. “Shop­ping now also means you’re likely to get the ex­act in­gre­di­ents you need.”

PRE­PARE YOUR SERVINGWARE

Once your menu is set, it’s time to work out how and what to serve it on. “I like to ded­i­cate a side­board where I start plac­ing the servingware, din­ner­ware, glasses and cut­lery for use on the day,” says HB’s Imo­gene. “I use Post-it notes to write the name of each dish on the servingware and I give ev­ery­thing a pol­ish at the same time.”

DONATE UN­WANTED TOYS

“The week be­tween the end of school and Christ­mas Day is a great time to de­clut­ter toys with your kids,” says pro­fes­sional or­gan­iser Amy Rev­ell. “Help them donate toys that they’ve out­grown and cre­ate space for any new toys. This cre­ates a lovely op­por­tu­nity to talk about the spirit of Christ­mas and help­ing those less for­tu­nate.”

CLEAR THE DECKS

Start to think about the weather. “If you have an out­door ta­ble, in­vest in a large um­brella to keep the area cool,” says in­te­rior stylist Aimee Tarulli of Archer In­te­ri­ors. “Add some out­door bean bags to cre­ate an in­for­mal break-out space where your guests can re­lax and unwind af­ter a big lunch.”

STOCK THE BAR

“It’s far bet­ter to have more booze than to run out,” says Vir­ginia Sel­leck, som­me­lier and founder of Mag­num & Queens.“Pre­pare to get the party started with a bub­bly, or greet guests with a cocktail. This year, try some­thing light and fresh such as The Ruby, with Cam­pari, Es­cubac, freshly squeezed grape­fruit and juice from a lime.”

RE­FRESH YOUR SPA­CES

Give your bath­room a quick zhoosh. “Add some new hand tow­els, a spe­cial pump soap and, in the days lead­ing to Christ­mas, a lit­tle bunch of flow­ers,” says Am­ber Clo­hesy from Down To The Woods. “I love Ash­ley & Co’s soap, and Mud’s tear vase is the per­fect size for a bath­room. This makes your bath­room spe­cial for guests, but is also a cheeky Christ­mas gift to your­self.”

PREP THE DRINKS STA­TION

“Make sure your bub­bles, white and rosé wines are in the fridge chill­ing and ready to be cracked,” says Mag­num & Queens’ Vir­ginia Sel­leck. “Wash and pol­ish wine glasses and de­canters, and cut up limes and lemon slices for cock­tails. If your cocktail recipes need freshly squeezed juice, do this ahead of time and store in the fridge.”

LIGHT THE WAY

Just af­ter the sun sets on Christ­mas Eve, al­lo­cate 30 min­utes to test your light­ing. “Whether you’re us­ing candles, tea lights or fairy lights, it’s a great way to see what will work as day turns to night and make last-minute touches,” says HB food di­rec­tor Imo­gene Abady.

SET THE TA­BLE

It’s al­ways a nice idea to lay the ta­ble the night be­fore – it takes way longer than you think. Kids about? Leave off the glass­ware and throw a sheet over it all so it re­mains safe from lit­tle hands.

BUY YOUR BLOOMS

Get the pick of the bunch by vis­it­ing your lo­cal flower mar­ket on Christ­mas Eve. “The best flow­ers are avail­able from 5am,” says HB’s Imo­gene Abady.

PLUG IN AND RECHARGE

“Stock up on bat­ter­ies and put all your de­vices on charge,” says event stylist Alexis Teas­dale. “There’s noth­ing like not be­ing able to play with new toys to really bring down the fes­tive mood.”

SAVOUR THE SEA­SON’S SEAFOOD

Chef and restau­ra­teur Guil­laume Brahimi rec­om­mends head­ing to the fishmonger on Christ­mas Eve to pick up the fresh­est catch. “This gives you enough time to pre­pare it be­fore the big day,” he says. To keep seafood at its very best, “Wrap your fish in Chux cloths to keep it dry,” sug­gests Len­nox Hastie, chef and owner of Fire­door restau­rant in Syd­ney.

RE­CY­CLE AND RE-USE

“Gift wrap­ping is like Christ­mas fare – you have to plan for left­overs,” says ex­pert gift wrap­per Vivi­enne An­thon. “Have a box ready for pa­per, plus a bas­ket for rib­bons. Store re-us­able pa­per in long card­board cylin­ders.”

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