Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #24

Well done! You got here!

Today you just have to enjoy it all because you have done everything you need to do! Avoid the shops at all costs! They will be full of last minute panic buyers. Go see a movie, have a meal, see a relative. Put your feet up! Merry Christmas!

That's it from me until 2010. Juggle Mum is officially on holiday until the New Year - come back in 2010 but until then, have a great festive season!

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #23

Today you collect all the pre-ordered turkeys, other food you had scheduled in earlier in the month (unless they arranged for you to go in on Christmas Eve!)

My local Farm Shop is open from 4am on Christmas Eve and believe me, it gets busy – even at that hour! So we get everything on the 23rd – mainly because it’s my daughter’s birthday on 24th December so that day is all about her.

It's nearly Christmas! Are you excited?!

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #22

Today it's time to clean the house. Boring I know but must be done if we are having visitors at Christmas!

If you have little time, focus on the rooms where people will notice – ie: kitchen and bathrooms. Plus, also make sure you use a disinfectant wipe on the fridge and freezer door handles. They are the one thing in a kitchen that everyone uses but no-one cleans!

Stock up on kitchen roll for spills. It costs more than using a cloth to mop up spills but is a great time saver at busy times like Christmas, and just run a quick duster over the telly - everyone will look at the telly over Christmas - don't let them see the dust!

Give it a good hour of effort getting the whole family to pitch in and you will have a fairly clean house in no time!

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #21

Today is the last posting date for 1st class mail for Christmas delivery so if you are struggling for the last present on your list, here is a great idea!

Booking a theatre or concert ticket for next year is a great present for someone and the best part is that if the tickets DON'T arrive before Christmas, all you need to do it print off a 'gift voucher' telling the recipient what they are getting and present that on Christmas morning - it doesn't really matter is the physical tickets aren't here.

PLUS - to get money off tickets, Voucher Codes is a great site. Just search for 'Theatre' to see all the special offers!

Also I have it on good authority that a special offer at Prezzy Box is proving really popular this year. You can get the 10% off deal for yourself by visiting www.vouchercodes.co.uk/prezzybox.com

Happy shopping and more tips for a stress free Christmas tomorrow!

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #20

Competition time! I've just found out about a great new competition where you can win a 4 night break plus spending money in 2010, so take time out of your Christmas rush to do something that might yield nice results next year!

The contest is by Babeecard and the address for entry is http://www.babeecard.com/competition_Bluestone_Babee Good luck!

**This contest is now closed**

Plus, in the spirit of finding unusual gifts or places to shop, here is a website that I was told about recently where the bags sold are made in an Italian prison! I met the girl who runs the business when I was in Stockholm last month, and she gave me one of the bags. Now I've tried out some shopping bags in my time and this bag is awesome! It is really sturdy, can take quite a weight in it and has a nice minimal design. The only problem is that to buy, you will need to know Italian as the website has no English translation! Made in Carcere is here.

Tomorrow I'm back with more of your 'Guide to a Stress Free Christmas' but until then - have a great day!

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #19

Today in my house it's chaos as my (soon to be) 7 year old is having a birthday sleep-over! I'll have 6 giggling girlies whacking a Pinyata, painting sparkly polish on their nails, watching Zac Efron movies and eating crisps and dips!

Today's tip is to give you a stress free Christmas for next year! Using my child's party as inspiration, what I plan to do is to take a photo of the girls enjoying their party then have it crafted into an awesome Christmas gift for the individual girls for next year's present! (I hope their parents aren't reading as it will spoil the surprise!)

I will go to the site Enhance Me and have their photo's made into a fairy dream or a winter wonderland. Their site is great - you have to see it to believe it! This will tick a few presents off my list already for next year - perfect planning!!

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #18

I promised you a money saving tip today and here it is...

Voucher Codes are a website where you can get discount codes for all the main High Street stores, saving you a bundle if you shop at the retailers' website but use the Voucher Code code!

I ordered a Junior Spike Dinosaur from the Early Learning Centre for my son's Christmas present through Voucher Codes but you can also get fashion, electronics, gifts and music - all of the stores are there!

Check out www.vouchercodes.co.uk for the lowdown and happy shopping!

PS) Today is Royal Mail's last posting date for 2nd class mail before Christmas so if you have cards left to send, doing them today will save you cash on that too!

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #17

We're on the last leg before Christmas now and hopefully your main presents are done along with your cards, cake and store-cupboard supplies, so now let's think about the 'not so obvious' items we'll need before the big day!

I'm talking about batteries! All shapes and sizes are needed because you won't know what the toy takes till it is opened on Christmas Day but size AA, Size C and Size AAA are most popular, so concentrate on those! Someone is bound to get the kids a toy but not the batteries to go with it, and nothing is more unfunny to a kid than seeing the toy and being unable to play with it!

Come back tomorrow for a great money saving Christmas tip!

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #16

It's time to get dressed up, go out and sit on a strange man's knee! But do it safely - only go to proper Santa Grotto's - not to just any old man on a park bench!

Rather than try to squeeze a trip to the Grotto into your precious weekend with a billion other parents (which means you will be queuing for hours), do a midweek jaunt and see Santa with the kids without the chaos!

If you cannot go after school, find a Grotto to take them to the week after school finishes. It will be a bit busier but not as bad as a Saturday.

More tips tomorrow!

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #15

Today, go to the supermarket before you do 'THE BIG SHOP' and stock up on the items you have not got yet- store cupboard ingredients, puddings, mince pies, nuts etc.
PLUS - more present wrapping. If you are not good or very fast with the scissors and paper, gift bags are an easy way to present a gift beautifully whilst taking no time to do!

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #14

Here is a great way to keep your children motivated to stay on Santa's 'Nice' list!

http://portablenorthpole.tv


...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #13

Today is a day of rest! **Contingency day!**

There is likely to be something you need to finish from one of the other posts so far. Do this today.

If you are bang up to date with the points so far then well done! Have a rest today - put your feet up!

Come back tomorrow for the next leg in the 'Stress free Christmas plan'!


...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #12

Today's tip is a Christmas gift idea and New Year's resolution in one!

If you are stuck on what to get someone, a diary or planner is always a useful idea. Plus, if they love being organised or always resolve to become more organised each New Year, Filofax have a range of personal organisers to suit!

Check out this link for details of a special beauty giftbox offer:

http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;219640157;42939854;s?http://uk-living.glam.com/articles/detail/have_a_filofax_christmas

PLUS.....
I am on the Filofax mailing list and have just received a special discount code. They are having a one day sale on 14th December (Monday) on personal organisers, so make a date in YOUR diary to go and get someone else a diary!

Between 9am and midnight, you can get 20% off certain personal organisers by entering the code XMASMM at the checkout.

Happy shopping and happy organisation!
Come back tomorrow for the next tip in our series on creating a Stress Free Christmas!

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #11

Today it is all about YOU!

I bet you have had a party invite, work do or other social event invitation by now, so we need to get your party clothes. See if you can get some childcare and get to the shops alone and spend a couple of hours focusing on your outfit.

If you can make it during the day whilst the kids are at school, so much the better (book a day off work to shop if necessary). The shops are miserable on a night when everyone rushes there after work, the assistants are tired and ready to get home and you have to drive home in the dark, so daytime is best.

Break up a long shopping trip with a cappuccino and cake to keep your energy up and find something sparkly!

Make up tip: Get a glittery eye-liner to bring some festive cheer to your face. Collection 2000 has a great range of colours and they are really cheap - I have just bought 2 sparkle liners (red and aqua) from Collection 2000 at ASDA in a 2 for £4 deal.

Technorati Claim Code: GEEQWB38YCVM

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #10

Let's talk Stockings - well, stocking fillers actually!

You got your ‘main presents’ online if you followed this plan, but stocking fillers are often overlooked. Mostly because these are the little things that catch your eye whilst out shopping for the ‘bigger’ things and you don’t know what you will get until you see it!

Today make a plan to get some stocking fillers- aim to spend an hour at the shops just wandering and cherry picking the bits that tickle your fancy.

Also, some of the online gifts you ordered should have started arriving by now, so set yourself up a ‘wrapping station’ on the kitchen table and start to wrap some of the presents! This is a job that always takes longer than you expect so start now!

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #9

There is still time left to organise a fantastic 'extra' for your children whilst doing your bit for charity. The NSPCC runs a 'Santa Letter' scheme where you can pay a £5 suggested donation to the charity for a personalised letter to your child directly from Santa himself!

The last order date for this letter is 16th December 2009 but orders are taken from October so put this in your diary for next year now! Go to the NSPCC website to order www.nspcc.org.uk/santa

The letter will arrive before Christmas and makes a wonderful keepsake. It is posted via 'Rudolph Mail' in a special envelope!

Come back tomorrow so we can talk 'stockings'!!

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #8

We are 8 days into December - time to get your Christmas gift wrap, foil bows, curling ribbon, tags and anything else you use to wrap the gifts!

Because there is not much else to say than this, here is a nice festive shot of the dolls from The Nutcracker - a Christmassy production! These dolls are part of our decoration at home:



...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #7 - including the best Christmas Cake you've ever had in your life!

It's time to bake your cake!
If you don't enjoy baking much or are really time pressed this year, cheat! There are loads of nice 'ready decorated' fruit cakes in the supermarkets now. They won't be as nice as this one, but they will do!

If you are baking your own, this recipe is GORGEOUS! I got it from a local cake maker - a lady who ran her own bakery for 50 years, and this was her tried and true recipe for a delicious rich fruit cake. **Note: the measurements are in ounces as this was the way she taught me. Nowadays stuff is sold metrically so you will need to convert the weights yourself**

The downside? It takes 2 days to do because we need to soak the fruit in the sherry overnight so you will need to weigh the stuff today and bake it all tomorrow.

For an 8 inch cake:

Currants 11oz
Sultanas 11oz
Raisins 11oz
Glace Cherries 6oz
Mixed Peel 3oz
Lemon rind - 1 lemon
Orange rind - half an orange
Sherry to soak fruit overnight: 50ml / 5fl oz

Ground Almonds 2oz
Butter 7oz
Soft Brown Dark Sugar 7oz
Eggs Size 2 (Large) x4
Black Treacle 1tbl spoon
Self Raising Flour 2.5 oz
Plain Flour 6oz
Ground Cinnamon 3/4 teaspoon
Mixed Spices 1/2 teaspoon
Ground Nutmeg -a 'good pinch'!

Gas Mark 2 (or 125 C) until cooked. (Approx 2h 45 to 3h 30)

-Soak fruit overnight
-Triple-line the cake tin with parchment
-Quadruple-line the OUTSIDE of the tin with brown paper (tie it with a piece of string)
-Triple cover the cake mixture with parchment

Leave the cake to cool in the tin overnight
Pour Brandy over the cake when cool (do not pierce the cake - the Brandy will find it's own 'cracks' to seep in through!)
Do not remove the parchment - store cake in it until needed.

Marzipan required - 1.5lb
Icing required - 1.5lb (I use sugar-paste as it is easier and softer to use than Royal Icing)

To present the cake, you will need an 11 inch square board (thick drum) for this cake

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #6

Now the inside looks festive, it’s time to sort the outside. Do you have outdoor lights to put up? A wreath? Fake snow for the windows?



Come back tomorrow for the next stage in our 'stress free Christmas' plan!

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #5

Today it’s time to get up in the loft or where-ever you hide the Christmas trimmings and start decorating! If you don’t have a tinsel tree, then go to the Garden Centre and get your real one. Then, involve the kids, put on some Christmassy tunes and ‘rock around the Christmas tree’!




This is our tree this year- the kids decorated it last night. Part of me wonders if I should tidy it up to make it look more pleasing within the house, part of me thinks I should leave it because it is a 'whole family' production! Maybe next year I will get all matching baubles and have it look more 'magazine like'!

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #4

If you are ‘hosting’ Christmas this year and have guests coming, today we focus on the dinner!

Place your order now at the butcher / farm shop / food hall for your turkey, ham on the bone and pork pies. Then, a trip to the supermarket is needed to pick up the Christmas booze and store-cupboard ingredients that are necessary but won’t ‘go bad’. So get your cranberry sauce, tin foil, beers, wines, soft drinks, Christmas puddings, crisps and crackers.

Don’t confuse this with your regular weekly shopping – today’s trip is just about Christmas. Focus on that- supermarkets can get busy and it’s stressful enough, so just one thing at a time! If you do have guests coming though, also consider the ‘incidentals’ like extra loo roll and washing powder that you will use but can’t ‘see’.

Time saving Tip: If you cannot think what you might need, browse a supermarket's online store to help you compile your list or a website like the BBC's Good Food is a great resource. It can also help you with recipes for any baking. I personally love to bake a cake but have no time so I buy everything in. Maybe when my youngest is my daughter's age, I will have a little more time to do some baking - I especially love cake decorating. It's so satisfying!

If you are lucky enough to be going to someone else's house this year, you can relax! But if Christmas is at yours then you are in the best position to wangle the festivities at someone else's house next year!

Come back tomorrow for the next stage in the 'Stress Free Christmas' plan!

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #3

For a time pressed mum, online shopping makes life really easy. Where else can you go and buy things in your pyjamas holding a cup of tea and not have to lug all the bulky bags around, or get round 3 shops in your lunch break? Plus, when you have kids with you, shopping can be a real chore. They want to play in ‘their’ shops, run around and the aisles are never easy to navigate with a pushchair. Then, they decide they need to pee when you are just getting to the front of a mile long queue!

So today we are going to order our Christmas presents online, AND I have just discovered a great new website – Voucher Codes.co.uk where you can get discounts from practically the whole ‘virtual’ High Street!

Buy for everyone now, because in a week or two we will be wrapping the gifts and this is a job that takes longer than we expect.

...... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #2

To have a stress free Christmas, now is the time to write and post your cards. A tip for next year is to buy your Christmas cards for next year in the sales THIS year and put them away! You will get them for half price – Christmas cards do not go out of ‘fashion’ and they do not go ‘off’! PLUS, if you are super organised you can even start to write them earlier on – maybe on a dark evening in October when you have nowhere to go and a bottle of wine at hand! But back to now, write all your cards today then take 10 minutes afterwards to list who you sent them to. This will provide the basic ‘checklist’ for you to use next year to make life easier – you will know exactly how many cards you need to purchase and also are sure not to forget anyone if it is written down! We are focusing on cards today rather than gifts because no-one will know you haven’t got them a gift until 25th December whereas cards start arriving around now from others.

Here is a time saving tip – the Post Offices start to get gridlocked around now with people sending parcels, arranging Airmail and collecting pensions etc, so avoid the queues there and get your stamps in books of 12 from most newsagents. You will never queue as long in a newsagent as you will at the Post Office! If you post your cards now, you can get away with using Second Class stamps which will save you money too.

Check in tomorrow when we start doing our favourite activity – SHOPPING!!

... Being organised saves time, money and boosts your productivity. To keep up to date with the latest tips on self organisation, follow this blog. Organise yourself by clicking in the 'Follower' box to the left of this post and show the world how savvy you are!

PS) My fave blog designer April Showers is having a competition! See below!
April Showers Blog Design is having a HUGE giveaway and celebrating her OPEN waiting list that starts January 1st! April not only does blogs - but also invitations, announcements, calendars, cards, business cards, custom illustrations, and so much more! Just by pasting this paragraph on my blog I'm a winner! www.aprilshowersblogdesign.com

Guide to a Stress Free Christmas #1

The Christmas Countdown is on and this is normally a stressful time for the mums out there who have everything to think about (let's face it - all the gift buying, house sorting, food prep and kid related activities are usually down to us to organise!) so this guide is a step by step way to ensure a stress free Yule whilst actually having some 'Me' time and enjoying the whole process!

Today's tip is:
For God's sake, book your Christmas hair appointment, any beauty treatments and 'essential maintenance' (like the bikini wax!) TODAY! Next year, you will book them earlier - in October or November but this time you will probably have to accept whatever appointments you can get, as the ladies who planned got the prime slots.

Do it now - I promise you, we will get to sorting out everyone else in this tip series, but YOU are most important this time.

Come back tomorrow for the next stage in the 'Stress Free Christmas' plan!

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