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Christmas countdown: Strategic planning to keep you sane in the run up to the big day!

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There aren’t many sleeps left until the big day, so to help you get organised, Trisha Hughes shares her idea of a strategically planned DB Christmas.

I take my hat off to all the amazing women who ‘wing it’ over Christmas. The only way I know how to ‘do’ the festive season is to organise it with military precision and stick rigidly to a to-do list from December 1 onwards. I have to adhere strictly to this list because if I don’t, everything snowballs and total chaos ensues.

Christmas is a time for socializing and making merry but it’s not all fun and games, especially if you’re juggling kids’ activities and a fulltime job in the lead-up. Advance planning is needed to put you in the driver’s seat. Starting now means you’ll spend less money and keep the credit card from skyrocketing to Mars. A long lead-in to the holiday season also cuts out the frantic panic-buy on December 24, which sees you staring wide-eyed at empty shelves, alongside your equally frazzled neighbours.

Keeping all that in mind, I’d like to share my idea of a strategically planned DB Christmas with you.

December 1-3

Assuming you’ve already done your online shopping, you will feel a certain well-earned smugness this week when you start receiving the parcels in the mail. Find time to wrap presents as they arrive, and pop them straight in the post if they’re headed overseas. Write and post your Christmas cards now too, remembering that Pen ’n Paper has an excellent selection.

christmas countdown

Next up, take stock of your decorations. It’s always fun putting up the tree and decorating the house but after all the festivities are over, packing them away properly is often way down on our list of priorities. So check your ‘decks’ now, untangle the fairy lights and don’t panic if anything has weathered badly. DB stores like Nomadic, Rapee Living and Bookazine all have spectacular Christmas decorations, with something to brighten up even the grumpiest Grinch and get you in the Christmas spirit.

This is the weekend to buy the ingredients for the Christmas cake to end all Christmas cakes, so get ready to make the first of many ‘festive’ trips to Fusion and Wellcome. You’ll need the dry fruit and the brandy at this stage because the mixture has to soak for at least two weeks, more if you’re organised. While in the supermarket, you can also pick up your Christmas pudding, or the ingredients to make it.

December 4-10

This week is ‘set up the Christmas tree week’. Remember the golden rule: two weeks before to assemble and two weeks afterwards to take it down. You may well have an artificial tree that you bring out every year but if you like the real thing head to Wellcome, or to the Flower Market in Mongkok. The market is open late, so you can get there after work, if you can’t wait until the weekend to start trimming the tree and decking the halls.

Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten a present. It’s the Handmade Hong Kong market on December 10, so you’ll be able to search for that perfect gift, or just wander the stalls and pick up some extra goodies for your Christmas table.

To save yourself the possible disaster of either a tough or too pink turkey, order a pre-cooked one this week. Discovery Bay Golf Club, Discovery Bay Recreation Club, Coyote and The Auberge all provide piping-hot takeaway turkeys right through the Christmas season, and the time this saves you in the kitchen will be heavensent. If tradition is what you like and cooking your own is a must, then you’ll want to order a turkey or ham. For holiday meats, I’ll be looking to Chef’s Choice and Salt & Pepper, and also ordering online at the Farmers Market (www.farmersmarket.com.hk).

If you’re an expat and you want to bring a taste of home to your holiday table, now is the time to order some delicious treats online. British Essentials (www.britishessentials.hk), The South African Shop (www.thesouthafricanshop.com) and a & m US Products (www.anmstores.com) all deliver to DB.

December 11-17

By now, the festivities will really have kicked in and you’ll have neighbours dropping round for celebratory drinks. For that special case of wine and your Christmas spirits of choice, head to Watson’s Wine or order order online at Wine Brothers (www.winebrothers.com.hk). Don’t forget the rum for the rum balls (Bundaberg rum is fabulous) because this week is ‘rum ball week’. Make them now, and they’ll be even yummier in a week’s time, having soaked up the rum in a sealed container at the back of the fridge.

This one always gets pushed to the bottom of the to-do list but try to find time this week to pamper yourself. My guess is you live in walking distance of either Nailed it!, M Spa Beauty Centre, Spa Botanica or Head to Toe Spa. Hopefully you can spare an hour or so for a much-needed facial or massage, but at the very least you’ll want your toes and nails looking their best on the day. Have them done now and book a followup appointment for the 21st. Think about your hair this week too. Will you have time to squeeze in a blow dry on December 24? Make your booking at Afflatus Hair Workshop or Salon De Coiffure now to avoid disappointment.

Be sure to keep December 14 free for Carols on the Pitch at Discovery Bay International School. And remember that Santa will be waiting at Club Siena on December 17 for kids to give him their wish lists and have their photos taken.

christmas countdown

December 18-24

Things are starting to heat up now but take it easy, you’re well ahead of the game! All of your presents are wrapped, your cards are on their way to family and friends back home, and your tree is shimmering and heavy with ornaments in the corner.

There is however a downside to being so prepared. You’ll probably find that the case of wine, the chocolates and the rum balls that you made last week have disappeared. You’ll need to find time to replenish your stock.

Four days to go: Book a table somewhere special for Boxing Day lunch. Head for your pre-booked mani-pedi, buy some fresh flowers and dash home to do any last-minute wrapping and to recharge the camera.

Two days to go: Now’s the time to shop for fresh fruit and vegetables. There will undoubtedly be others like you, madly waving their lists around, so be prepared for the long haul. After that, start defrosting the turkey and… OMG, I knew I’d forgotten something, make the Christmas cake!

One day to go: If you weren’t already doing it, panic! Make the stuffing, locate the kids’ Christmas stockings, leave a mince pie out for Santa. Oh, and buy more Prosecco (and Alka-Seltzer) because someone’s bound to drop by for a nightcap.

The big day

christmas countdown

Just breathe. Laugh a lot and enjoy.

Of course, some of you will have opted to head down to The Auberge on Christmas Day for a fuss-free festive lunch at either the Bounty Bar or Café Bord de Mer. In that case, the same rule applies. Laugh a lot and enjoy.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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