25 ways to make Christmas unforgettable

Quick wins to ensure this holiday season is the best yet!

Do you find Christmas stressful? Does the pressure of living up to festive expectations play on your mind? Are you worried about the cost of buying presents for all the family? Not sure why your presents always end up looking like they’ve been wrapped by the family dog? Fancy doing something a bit different this year?

If the answer to any of the above is an emphatic YES then make sure you read Quidco Discover’s ultimate guide to making Christmas memorable for all the right reasons…

1. Budget properly

If you’re worried about letting your Christmas spending get out of hand, do your best to outline a workable budget as early as possible. Once you’ve worked out the figure you have to work with, factoring in contingency spending, write it down and do your best to stick to it!

Whether it’s outlining how much you’re able to spend on presents for individual family members or the level of funding you’re able to put aside to pay for food and drink, you should always bear in mind that timing is key. Leave things to the last minute and you’ll have to dash around the shops buying things in person when you might have ordered them weeks earlier for a cheaper price online. Finally, if you can’t afford something, ask yourself whether you should be buying it.

2. Send Christmas cards

How many handwritten letters have you received this year? The chances are, unless you’re involved in a long-distance relationship or communicate with individuals who refuse to indulge in emails, you’ve received very little. It’s a sad state of affairs. Giving and receiving personalised letters is one of life’s little pleasures, so rather than view the process of sending Christmas cards as a time-consuming chore, why not endeavour to make the effort. You don’t have to send something to everybody in your address book, but if you personalise a message to a select few you’ll be sure to brighten up their day.

3. Do your utmost to be kind

It may be a stressful time of year, but it’s also the season of goodwill so try not to get so overwhelmed by preparations that you neglect lending a helping hand to others. Your kindness will be rewarded. A recent study revealed that the body reacts to benevolent behaviour by producing chemicals which make people more positive and more relaxed.

4. Remember what Christmas is all about

Now that the countdown to Christmas has well and truly begun the capitalist machine will have you believe that the coming weeks are all about spending cash. It’s not. If you need a reminder as to what it is about then I suggest you visit your local church.

5. Get the right Christmas tree

Nobody wants a living-room centrepiece to drop all its needles before the presents have even found their way beneath its coniferous branches. Arguably the best way of securing a lasting tree is to buy one that has been grown in a pot rather than placed in a pot having been grown in the ground. It also helps if you get one that fits through your front door!

6. Decorate your tree with style

If you’re looking to truly show off your tree don’t just place it in the only available corner of the room – move your furniture around to make it the focal point. Moreover, while you may want to give that entire box of tangled old tinsel an outing, it may be best to resist the temptation.

There is no single set of rules when it comes to layering your foliage, but generally speaking no matter your bauble, lighting and tinsel preferences it’s best to try and keep things simple. For a traditional style work with reds and gold, for a sophisticated look go for silver and white accessories and if you’re after something completely different work why not try bright primary shades and experiment with faux-trees in different colours.

7. Drink responsibly

It’s well known that Christmas is a boozy time of year.  From office parties to family reunions, the alcohol seems to be constantly flowing. While not drinking is the only sure-fire way of avoiding a hangover, if you have indulged a little too much it is advisable to drink as much water as possible before hitting the sack. If that opportunity has been missed then your next best option might be one of these legendary ‘cures’.

8. Treat yourself

It has been a long year. Why not pat yourself on the back and treat yourself to a little something you’ve been pining after for a while. Perhaps you need a new haircut, or you’ve spotted an item of clothing that could help you enjoy a special night out that little bit more.

Maybe there’s a movie you’ve been meaning to watch or a restaurant you’re eager to try. We’re not talking about blowing the budget on something extravagant, just giving yourself something to look forward to amidst the hubbub of holiday season.

9. Teach yourself how to wrap presents properly

You may have spent weeks sourcing the perfect gift for your loved one, but if it is left under the tree wrapped like a dodgy kebab then you’re lessening its impact from the outset. A beautifully packaged present isn’t just about concealing what’s inside, it also another way of showing how much you care. With that in mind make sure you invest in the correct materials including quality tape, scissors, paper and ribbon. After that it’s all about getting the correct ratio of paper to cover the gift as neatly as possible.

10. Decorate your home

The tree may be the decorative centre-point of any build-up to Christmas, but wreaths, lighting and other tasteful accoutrement will help you achieve that true festive feeling. If you’re not keen on resorting to last year’s tired looking ornaments, why not take the time to make some new ones. There are hundreds of websites offering advice on DIY decorations, with many catering for children.

11. Take photos

Christmas isn’t all about the present; it’s about creating memories, which can be shared in the future. Photographs are a magical way of connecting with the past, so make sure you snap away when family and friends are together. You don’t have to arrange formal photo-shoots, just try and capture the essence of the festive period by taking pictures of people talking, laughing, arriving, leaving, eating, opening presents and playing games. With the rise of social networks it has never been easier to share pictures with friends. Just make sure you’re not the one always stuck behind the lens.

12. Consider a booze cruise

If you’re eager to drink well for less and have a spare day, a pre-Christmas booze-cruise could be worth considering. Despite the current pound-euro exchange rate a day-trip trip to France can still be very productive for wine and beer lovers. Supermarkets and wine warehouses in Calais, Boulogne and Dunkirk offer great discounts on champagne in particular and with vehicle ferry tickets costing around £60 per vehicle you’re more than likely to cover the costs of your day out with some mart shopping. Just make sure you’re familiar with the rules to reduce the chance of an awkward encounter with the men at Customs.

13. Get out and about

Whether it’s an afternoon carolling, a winter concert in the park, a nice long walk or a bike ride, make sure you get some fresh air during the Christmas period. After all, with all those extra-calories coming your way you’ll likely be happy for the opportunity to do some exercise!

14. Make gifts

If money is tight why not take the time to make, rather than buy, gifts for friends and family. One thing is for sure; personalised presents certainly make an impact by demonstrating a level of thoughtfulness and effort which can’t fail to impress. The possibilities are endless; all you need is a little imagination.

15. Shop online early

Spending online isn’t new, but it is certainly going from strength to strength. Offering the ability to compare products from innumerable retailers and with prices often lower than in the shops, the internet is a shopper’s paradise. Indeed according to Amazon, the UK’s number one retail brand, there’s a good chance you’ll be indulging in some online retail therapy on December 5th – the day touted as the annual peak of pre-Christmas shopping.

To ensure you get the most from your festive shopping experience on the web make sure you ensure plenty of time for delivery. It’s all well and good the retailer telling you they can make a Christmas Eve deadline but if the snow starts falling (as it did last year) there’s still a chance your package could get stuck in a mail depot.

16. Receive a letter from Father Christmas

Did you know you can arrange a free letter from Santa Claus for your children? All they have to do is write to him before December 14th and Royal Mail will do their best to ensure that the man in Lapland pens a few wise words for your little ’un before doing his annual delivery.

17. Cook food in advance

Obviously you can’t cook the turkey days in advance, although you may well need to defrost it for several hours, but there are other elements to a Christmas lunch which can be prepared before the big day. When you’re planning your menu do your utmost to choose side dishes, sauces, starters and deserts which can be re-heated having been prepared a few days in advance. With the world’s best chefs lining up to give advice you don’t even need to be the one getting imaginative. Listen to what they have to say and don’t be put off by their high standing…they didn’t make it to the top of the pile for nothing!

18. Share the load

If you’re hosting a Christmas gathering be sure not to take on the burden of doing everything on your own. If you don’t want to ask extended family to bring courses for lunch then at least try and get your nearest and dearest involved in the clean-up process! While the temptation might be to say ‘yes’ to everything, you have to question whether the build-up of stress is worth it. There is nothing wrong with asking for a helping hand, or indeed to saying no to certain requests.

19. Treat your beak

Christmas should stimulate all of the five senses so why not indulge your nose with a few festive fragrances. Aromatherapy candles, mulled wine, orange pomander balls, gingerbread, cinnamon, candy canes…any of the aforementioned scents are sure to help you get into the spirit of the holiday season.

20. Sing your heart out

Over the course of more than sixty years the battle for the Christmas number one slot has become a national fascination. Whilst you may be scratching your head trying to remember who held that accolade last year, you know in your heart of hearts that you probably have the capability to karaoke your way through many of the festive period’s most famous pop songs.

From ‘Frosty the Snowman’ to ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ and ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ to ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ it’s hard not to feel in the mood for Christmas once these tunes are blaring out. What’s more, according to Heart Research UK singing is good for you, so next time you feel like bursting into song…go ahead!

21. Do something for charity

Many organisations are on the lookout for a helping hand at Christmas time. If you’re interested in lending your time and support to help some of society’s most vulnerable during the festive period, then make sure you check out the Charity Commission website for details of all of the UK’s registered charities.

22. Indulge in a Christmas movie

They come in all shapes and sizes, cater for all tastes and all ages and will more than likely leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside two hours. Granted some are a little schmaltzy, others too preachy, but you can’t go wrong with the classics. If you’re feeling stressed, or just fancy a bit of down time, why not grab the popcorn, jump on the sofa and let Hollywood whisk you away.

23. Be ready for Boxing Day

You may have survived the big day, but for many families up and down the country the reunions continue on Boxing Day. To ensure you’re not taken by surprise by an unexpected visitor make sure you’ve stocked up on the necessary ingredients to turn your Christmas lunch into another enticing meal and obviously keep the tea and biscuit supplies updated.

24. Buy batteries

It may not seem like a significant purchase, but for many children the joy of opening a new present is tempered by the fact they can’t use it because there are no batteries in the house. Make sure you pick up a selection in the run-up to Christmas, or better still, pick up ones, which can be re-charged. After all, it’s not like they won’t get used eventually.

25. Make it a green Christmas

The holiday season is obviously a period of excess, but it doesn’t take much to help cut the level of wastage. Save used wrapping paper, recycle packaging, turn the Christmas lights off when you go to bed, make the most of leftovers, buy a tree you can use again, pick an organic turkey, use beeswax candles; the possibilities are endless. Moreover, with New Year’s resolutions also on the horizon you’ll be well-placed to start your self-improvement early!

More on Quidco Discover

Andrew Allen / Editor

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