Christmas in July – happy through the holidays – Start early!

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Okay, quit rolling your eyes.  Yes, this is a post about Christmas but if you’ll bear with me, you could be having one of the most relaxed and peaceful Christmases of your life.  So take a deep breathe and carry on reading.

I am a Christmas freak.  Both my Mom and I just love Christmas.  We’re the crazy people who start playing Christmas carols in June.   And that’s the way we like it!  I come from a big family and have four siblings.  As you can imagine, unless you’re Rockerfella, you gotta start planning early for a family that size. My mom  would take every advantage to buy gifts early, stock up on baking supplies and prepare meals in advance for the freezer as well as cookie dough – anything to get ahead for the holidays.  In South Africa, where I’m from, we get our main school vacation over December and into January for neary two months because that’s when our Summer is.  Now, can you imagine having Summer break over Christmas?  Not ony do you have 5 kids running around whining ‘coz they’re bored but you got to prepare for Christmas for a big family. I take my hat off to my Mom because she always got it done and Christmases at home are some of my fondest memories from childhood.

I was my Mom’s little elf, always making lists for Christmas, always rooting around in the decoration boxes come June, trying to figure out what supplies we needed for the Christmas ahead. And to this day, I’m still a little Christmas elf. Or fruitcake.  You know, potato, potahto!  Here are some things I learned from my Mom that always seem to make Christmas run smoothly.

1.  Shop early:  You hear it every year but never follow the advice, right?  Well I’m here to tell you to start shopping SUPER DUPER early.   I start shopping in the January sales when I get my ribbon, wrapping paper, Christmas cards, scented holiday candles, tape and loads of other useful items dirt cheap.   You may also find good bargains on winter woolies towards the end of winter in the sales  like scarves, hats, gloves and sweaters.  Of course, you will need to buy one size bigger for your kids when you make your purchases because they’ll grow by Christmas but who cares?  You can also pick up great stocking stuffers, gifts and bottles of holiday booze.  As long as the booze will be in date by the time you intend to drink it, you’re smiling.

Take advantage of the back to school sales – after school has started for the year of course.  You can pick up bargains on all school stationery and won’t need to break the bank when school begins.  If you want, you could pick up craft goodies and crayons too for use throughout the year or for stocking stuffers.

There is no reason why you can’t stock up on non-perishables before Christmas. There are many items you can stock up on months in advance that will not spoil by Christmas. Suggested food stuffs that can be purchased months in advance of Christmas are:

  • Flour – this can be frozen to keep it fresh and can be used directly out of the freezer.  It’s recommended though for baking purposes to leave it to get to room temperature before using.

  • Sugar

  • Brown sugar

  • Syrup

  • Frozen berries

  • Confectioners sugar (sugar for frosting)

  • Caster sugar (fine sugar)

  • Baking powder

  • Glace cherries

  • Dried fruit

  • Nuts

  • Bread- should be used within 3 months to be on the safe side.

  • Milk – should be used within 3 months to be on the safe side.  Just leave out over night and it should be ready for your morning coffee.

  • Cocoa powder

  • Frozen puff and shortcrust pastries

  • Spices

  • Christmas meats – should be used within 3 months

  • Jars of cranberry sauce

  • Jars of cook in sauces for the night’s you’re busy with Christmas crafts

  • Booze

  • Butter – can be frozen until needed – up to six months

  • Chocolate – can also be frozen

  • Ice

  • Ice cream

  • And anything else you can think of that you can freeze or that won’t perish before the holidays

2. Holiday survival kit: we’ve all been there.  It’s the morning after the office Christmas party, you’re hung over and haven’t an asprin in the house.  I always make a point of visiting Poundland to stock up on pain pills, hang over remedies, cold and flu medication, something for upset stomach, diarrhea pills, band aids/plasters, cold sore cream and strips, childrens pain syrup, lip balm for chapped lips, antiseptic cream.  I spent on Christmas day hugging the toilet bowl with a violent case of salmonella.  I will never ever be without upset stomach and diarrhea pills over the holiday again!

3. Delegate!:  There is no point in being a martyr over the holidays.  Get the kids to help decorate the house; let them make gift tags and christmas cards, even wrapping paper if they want.   Let older kids help with cooking and baking.  Get hubby to grit the drive.  The holidays are  about family working together to rather than Mom having to be booked into the nearest lunatic asylum come Christmas eve.

4. Prep as much as possible ahead of time: Prepared food can keep for up to three months in the freezer.  Cook double spaghetti sauce, shepherds pies and anything else you normally eat that will freeze well. Christmas fruit cakes and puddings will keep for nearly a year if frozen.  It makes life easier on the nights when you know you’ve got the kids nativity play and you certainly don’t want to waste money getting take out during the holiday season when you can ill afford it.

5.  There’s no such thing as perfection:  Remember, perfection is a myth.  Don’t expect it. Don’t strive for it.  Strive only to have fun and make wonderful memories.

Vow to start early this year and go print this out and put it into a binder ready for tomorrows post.

Bright blessings,

 Mama R

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