Get prepped for a relaxing Christmas, eco-style!Yes, it's almost upon us - ruddy Christmas with its accompanying horror of a 'to do' list. Grumpily facing the prospect of the usual chaos, it's mighty tempting to take to the sofa with a glass of wine for a good procrastinate. Yet if we take a leaf out the book of more sensible folk and put in just a little pre-planning, we really can create an altogether greener, cheaper and more relaxed Christmas.
Think simplicity, think delegation! If we can pare back our responsibilities and turn the festive grind into a shared family project, we'll have more time to spend with the ones we love. And as they say, that's what it's all about.
Round up the troops, make a pot of tea, get out those special biscuits and let's get cracking...
Designate your family days
Decide which days of Christmas will be 'family only' and add them to the calendar. These days will be for peaceful times together with your inner circle, however that's composed. Attendance mandatory, you teenagers!
You may want to combine the above with a 'no screen' day - no TV, no laptops, no tablets, no phones, just good food, carols on the radio, a pile of silly board games and perhaps a stroll.
Make any travel and guest plans
If you're visiting family for Christmas, nail down those dates asap! Same goes for anyone invited to stay with you.
The sooner you can buy your travel tickets the better, price-wise. Use cashback sites such as Top Cash Back and Quidco for extra savings on train and coach journeys. When public transport isn't going to work, think about lift sharing, either with family and friends heading in the same direction or via the Liftshare car sharing community website.
Delegate the Christmas jobs
Make sure the epic task of producing the 'perfect' Christmas doesn't fall on the shoulders of one hapless soul this year, if you know what I mean?
Delegation usually works best if you play to people's strengths: foodies planning the meals and the grocery list, artistic types working on the decorations, people person liaising with Aunt Judith and Uncle Brian. Yes, kids can take charge of jobs too - in fact, Christmas is far lovelier if everyone has played a part.
Present buying and card sending
Again, it's no fun if one person has to rack their brains every year to come up with appropriate gifts for dozens of relatives, assorted friends, work colleagues and acquaintances. A family brainstorming session solves this issue in a couple of hours. Ask the following questions:
>> Do we really, truly need to buy presents for all of these people? Gift giving for politeness' sake only creates an obligation to return the gesture and, yes, it is possible to have too many bath sets and scented candles. Would a nice card and heartfelt message suffice?
>> How much are we able to spend? Maybe the answer is 'very little' in which case, head on over to our article on homemade edible gifts. Either way, set a budget and stick to it.
>> For groups of grownups, can we start a Secret Santa tradition? Each person then gives one gift rather than several, hopefully leading to more carefully chosen presents for all (and more money in the bank post-Crimbo.)
>> Can we give fun experiences rather than potential clutter? An experience is far more memorable for the recipient of the gift. If you have points to spend in your Greenredeem account, take a look at the discounts we've swung for you on Red Letter Day gift experiences and English Heritage membership. Few clicks of the mouse and that's your presents sorted.
>> When can we get together and do the cards? Make Christmas card writing a family affair. Many hands make light work, so you might even be able to fit in making your own cards this year!