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An Illustrated Guide to Planning for the Festive Season (so you don't freak out!)

Holiday Oct 30, 2017

Guide to Planning for the Festive Season

Ok so I have a confession to make, I’m famously last minute with most things in life. I call it my ‘just in time’ approach and it’s like I need the pressure of a looming deadline in order to function properly. In most cases it works out fine, I mean I always meet work deadlines (even if it’s a mad scramble on the day) and for other things I’m pretty happy to just to wing it.

But when it comes to the festive season I have to say it doesn’t always work out. It seems that all the small tasks this time of year involves (presents, events, outfits, socializing) throw my last minute approach into disarray… It generally comes together but not without plenty of completely frazzled moments! Add in the fact that it’s the busiest time of year for work and it can be stressful, to say the least…  This year I vowed I would be more prepared, not least because I’m sick the stress involved with a last-minute approach.

Luckily Natalie in the studio is A++ in the organization department and has her Christmas planning down to a fine art. So I decided it was high time to enlist her to show me (and you guys) her approach. Apparently, my leave-it-to-the-last-minute modus operandi is exactly what she says you shouldn’t do, instead, it’s better to divvy up anything you need to do between now and the holidays so you’ve got a few manageable tasks each week rather than a terrifyingly long list at the end. So whilst it may seem way too early to even be contemplating Christmas, apparently, if you start with a little pre-prep in mid-November, your festive season will run smoothly. In collaboration with M&S we’ve put together an easy to follow Festive Season checklist, starting from Mid November (you’ve still got a few weeks to chill!), so you too can approach Christmas with a plan. In case it seems a little daunting, we’ve included in it everything you might need to do, but if there are things you don’t do just scroll on past those. We’re looking to make your Christmas easier rather than harder!

Guide to Planning for the Festive Season

5 Weeks to Go (Mid November)

Write A Gift and Card List – Make a list of the people you need to buy for and anything you have in mind. Add in your budget here. Also make a list of the cards you want to send if that’s something you do (I don’t… don’t hate me!).
Plan Any Travel – Heading away? If you haven’t booked travel or accom yet it’s definitely time (!). If you have, check confirmations for any previously made plans so there are no nasty surprises (urgh been there done that).
Book in Christmas party/events – People book up super early so if you want to see friends or family book them in now, even if it’s something casual.

4 Weeks To Go (Late November)

Start Your Christmas Shopping – If you haven’t already done your Christmas shopping this is a good time to try to knock it over. Order any online items or buy things in person.
Send International Mail – Once you’ve done your shopping, send any presents or cards that are going overseas. Sending gifts or cards overseas can have delays, so send them now to make sure they arrive.

Think About Outfits For Parties – Parties start early so if you need some new digs now’s the time to plan those. Decide when you’ll go shopping (or perhaps you want to DIY some crystal earrings or put a bow on it?).

3 Weeks To Go (From 1 December)

Decorate – Traditionally people start putting up decorations from Dec 1, so that’s a great date to aim for so you actually get to enjoy them (in the past I’ve always put mine up too late!). I’m all about simple greenery with a few stars here and there this year.
Make DIYs – In case you have any decor or presents you want to make from scratch, now’s the time to start doing that because the closer to Christmas it gets the harder it is to carve out time to get creative. If you’re looking for ideas why not check out this DIY String Light Christmas Tree or this DIY Light Up Star.

2 Weeks To Go (Mid December)

Finish online shopping – Online shopping cutoffs vary depending on who you are shopping with but in general, it’s best to finish your online shopping towards the end of the second week before Christmas so it can arrive in time (if you order before the 18th from M&S you’ll definitely get your goodies in time).

Send Local Mail – Send any domestic mail like presents or cards. Dust off your hands because you won’t have to lick another stamp for a while!

1 Week To Go (From 18th December)

Check your present list – The worst is getting to the day before Christmas and realising you’ve forgotten Grandma’s present. It happens. Do a quick inventory of cards and gifts a week out, cross-checking with your present list.
Catch up with friends – It’s so easy to get bogged down in family and partners during main holidays, so grab a coffee with your friends to touch base before all that begins in earnest.

2 Days to Go

Shop for food & drinks – Although I usually end up in the supermarket on Christmas Eve, it’s always terrifyingly hectic… Natalie suggests doing it on the 23rd afternoon/evening instead. You could even get started making a DIY fruit filled ice bucket!

Plan Christmas Day – Make sure you’re across what’s happening on Christmas Day, particularly if you’re hosting people at your place. If you are, plan and buy for your Christmas table including linen and other items you may need. If not, ask what you can do or bring to make it easier for the person hosting.

1 Day to Go (Christmas Eve)

Finish Gift Wrapping – Crack open a bottle of wine and wrap those gifts. (You could even sew some DIY star packages or make some DIY Star boxes).
Sit back and relax (drink a big glass of wine… or 5!)

Naturally, we had to put all these tips down on paper for you, as a visual person I know how useful it can be to have a checklist like this. Feel free to print it out and stick it on your fridge!


Preparation is key (apparently!) so stocking up on comfy slides and (my version of) a Christmas jumper. And wrapping my present with a few DIY touches and a nice card!

I’ve picked some of my favourite festive items from M&S… I’m loving this marble chopping board. I also snapped up this pretty gold pen and simple christmas cards that aren’t too over the top!

Hopefully, this list helps you (and me) avoid those Christmas mistakes like sending parcels that arrive in the new year, receiving gifts from online stores that come on the 27th of December or knee deep in chaos at the mall on the 24th of December. One can only hope! Stay tuned for a few more posts in my collaboration with M&S showing you how to have a DIY Christmas.

This post is in collaboration with M&S. Illustration by Natalie Ong.

Shop the Story

Marble Platter $49

Festive Sweater $48

Charity Christmas Cards $10

Classic Apron $29

Gold Pen $16

Knitted Throw $131

Silver Star $14


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