Christmas is truly the most magical time of the year! At Farm Toys Online, we're all about making Christmas easy and joyful.
Before you know it, Father Christmas, Santa Claus, or however you fondly address the jolly man, will be at our doorstep! It feels like the children only just returned to school, and suddenly, the festive season is upon us. But worry not.
Over the years, our team at Farm Toys Online has honed the art of Christmas prep, especially since this is our busiest time of year!
So, I gathered the team and asked them to share their best tips to ensure you're not worn out and stressed, but instead, ready to dive into some serious holiday cheer.
Our 6 Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas:
Tip 1) Buy your gifts well in advance
Tip 2) Check your toys once they've been delivered
Tip 3) It's never too early to start planning
Tip 4) Don't leave your Christmas cards until the last minute
Tip 5) Beat the mad Christmas queues by shopping online
Tip 6) That goes for the Christmas dinner food, too!
Our Tried, Tested & Trusted Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas
We've thought of all the details you need to consider during the Christmas countdown – from food shopping to getting the house ready for decorations and everything in between.
All you need to do is grab a calendar and let me guide you as you create the ultimate Christmas to-do list. Trust me, following a handy checklist will ensure you're all set for a happy and hassle-free Christmas, giving you more time to focus on the fun stuff!
Tip 1) Buy Your Gifts Well in Advance
Sorting out Christmas presents is one of the big tasks on your to-do list.
Set your budget (that Christmas fund isn't infinite) and plan what to buy. Decide whether you want to include little extras like a Christmas Eve box, and start purchasing gifts as soon as you can.
Statistics show that, on average, we spend £363 per child on presents. For that money, we want to get as much as we can. But I can't stress enough, don't wait to shop Black Friday; often, the deals aren't as great as you expect, and you're leaving delivery to chance.
Remember last year and the chaos caused by the Royal Mail strikes? Avoid the stress of wondering if your gifts will arrive!
If you see something that would make a perfect gift, get it there and then. You may not remember what you saw at a later date, or it may be out of stock or at a higher price – so why run the risk?
Tip 2) Check Your Toys Once They've Been Delivered
The temptation to hide gifts at the back of the wardrobe until you're ready to start wrapping is a tough one to resist. However, trust me, checking everything before hiding it away will avoid any potential tears on Christmas morning.
As your deliveries arrive, go through each order and check it is all there.
- Open up toys before wrapping them. Don't worry about packaging and whether they will go back in the box in which they came. Check that all parts are there and nothing is broken.
- If the toy needs to be assembled, assemble it before it gets wrapped. Take your time and read the manual. The best part? You won't have to worry about trying to do it on Christmas Eve or, even worse Christmas morning with your mother-in-law and children hovering over you.
- If you haven’t stocked up while Christmas shopping, make sure you have plenty of spare batteries.
See, it's all about manageable chunks and not leaving everything until the last minute. Plan ahead and stay on top of things as they come through the door. Being proactive is the key to a stress-free Christmas!
Tip 3) It's Never Too Early to Start Planning
I used to groan whenever my mother or mother-in-law instigated the "Christmas Chat." Who's going to host? Where is it going to be? What about Boxing Day? Turkey or something else this year? What are you getting for so-and-so? And so on.
But these days, I find myself doing it! I've learned that if you leave everything until the last minute, or even just approaching Christmas, you can find yourself very stressed out, panicking, and not looking forward to the most wonderful time of the year.
Now's the time to decide. If you know you are going to be hosting family and friends, you have even more reason to follow our Christmas countdown.
Tip 4) Don't Leave Your Christmas Cards Until the Last Minute
If you have friends or family abroad, you may need to start posting Christmas cards as early as November to ensure they arrive in plenty of time.
Putting together a Christmas card list and writing them early not only gives you the opportunity to add a personal touch to each card, like a heartfelt message or a family photo, but it's also a great way to save money. Opt for Royal Mail second-class stamps over first-class stamps and save 35 pence per stamp!
So, beat the rush and get those cards in the post to your friends and family sooner rather than later.
Tip 5) Beat the Mad Christmas Queues By Shopping Online
Escape the chaotic queues and shopping frenzy by opting for online shopping, especially during events like Black Friday.
You can comfortably browse from your home and get those hard-to-find items on your gift list much more easily.
When shopping online, remember to:
- Start Early: Begin your browsing well in advance to secure the best prices and avoid items running out of stock.
- Consider More than Prices: Consider not only the price but also the quality and expected customer service in case of any issues.
- Check Reviews: Before making a purchase, read reviews about the company to ensure it meets with your service expectations.
- Monitor Delivery Deadlines: Keep on top of Christmas delivery deadlines to guarantee your gifts arrive on time.
- Black Friday: Many online businesses are starting their sales much earlier to encourage shoppers to not wait for Black Friday. It's worth keeping an eye on these deals as many will only be available while stocks last.
Online shopping not only saves you from the chaos of crowds but is also a fantastic way to support small businesses, especially when you choose to shop with smaller online retailers like us!
Tip 6) That Goes for the Christmas Dinner Food, Too!
So, let's talk about planning that fabulous Christmas dinner.
First off, don't forget to consider your guests' dietary preferences and restrictions. It's all about ensuring everyone has a fantastic meal! Take a moment to jot down any allergies, dietary needs, or special food preferences your guests might have. This will help you create a menu that caters to everyone and leaves them all smiling.
Once you've planned your menu and organised your recipes, it's time to tackle the shopping list. Divide it into two sections: one for perishable goodies you'll pick up a few days before, and the other for non-perishable items you can get ahead of time.
Here's a top tip: figure out what you can make ahead in the run-up to the big day. There are lots of make-ahead recipes that can be stored in the fridge or freezer until Christmas.
Our Christmas Planning Calendar for Parents
In an effort to make your festive season as joyful and stress-free as possible, I've put together this helpful month-by-month Christmas checklist.
Here at Farm Toys Online, we've all contributed our collective years of Christmas experience to create this guide.
Think of it as a gift from us to you—a fantastic festive assistant to ensure your Christmas countdown goes brilliantly!
September: Out with the Old
Kids are back at school; now is the perfect time to do a big toy declutter. Out with the old to get ready to bring in the new. It's also a great way to raise a little money; our toys are such great quality they often have a good resale value on places like Facebook Marketplace.
It's also a good idea to deep-clean the freezer and start making room for some of that festive food!
Try to set a budget and think about everything: food, presents, travel costs, and also plan for all the little extra things you like to do in the run-up to Christmas.
If you would like to take the whole family to a pantomime, now's the time to get tickets. Also, if you always miss out on those sell-out Advent Calendars, like our Schleich Farm World or Schleich Horse Club Advent Calendars, now is the time to buy. Many businesses like ours offer early bird discounts.
October: Save the Dates
Put important dates in the diary: nativities or school plays. This way, everyone will have the chance to book time off work and go along to watch.
If you want to plan a Christmas get-together, then pick the date now and send out save-the-date messages to everyone.
People get booked up quickly at Christmas, so get in there early to make sure that people can make it – it will also give them plenty of time to book a babysitter and taxis!
If you are staying with family over Christmas and know you are travelling by train, book your train tickets— it will be so much cheaper.
Also, take time to book in all your appointments for the run-up to Christmas; hair appointments are hard to come by closer to the big day.
November: Get Ready, Get Set, Shop!
If you haven't already, start shopping! Get your children to start writing their lists. If you have a partner, ask them what they want so you don't have to worry about a last-minute scramble to get them Christmas gifts.
I would also start dropping some present hints! Once, I unwrapped a ceramic mixing bowl (a farmhouse-style one) from my other half, only to watch my mother-in-law unwrap exactly the same gift from him — clearly a panic buy for us both.
Don't forget to stock up on wrapping paper and gift tags. Check and wrap presents as you go, and label them. It will avoid a lot of drama later on.
Write a Christmas card list, buy the cards you need, write them, address the envelopes, and put them somewhere safe, ready to post in early December! If you're posting abroad, be sure to check Royal Mail's last posting dates.
If you're hosting Christmas, it's also time to plan your menu and shopping list. Reserve your supermarket slots if you prefer online delivery and order your turkey! In my house, I like to plan a special meal for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and then for Boxing Day, it's all about leftovers.
If you're considering making your own Christmas pudding, it's traditionally made on the last Sunday of November.
December: Tying Up Loose Ends
Pick up any last-minute gifts. I always buy a few extras like wine and chocolate to avoid those awkward situations when somebody who wasn't on your list gifts you something.
It's time for the pre-Christmas house tidy-up! Get everything in order and sparkling, make space for your Christmas tree and decorations to go up.
Also, it's time for a final check of everything. If you have overnight guests during Christmas, check that you don't need extra bedding. Make sure you have enough wine glasses and BATTERIES — there's always that one toy!
Plan your Christmas prep: what can you do early and store in the fridge or freezer?
You may be surprised to learn that festive food like mince pies freeze well.
Now, dust off those board games, organise your Christmas playlist, and above all else, enjoy the holiday season — it only comes once a year, and you've put a lot of effort into making it special.
Rounding Up Our Top Tips for the Best Christmas Yet
Well, we hope this ultimate Christmas checklist from all of us at Farm Toys Online makes your festive period stress-free and truly joyous. From planning and shopping for gifts in advance to ensuring every toy is checked and batteries are stocked, we've thought of it all.
Let the countdown to a wonderful Christmas begin!
Do You Guarantee Christmas Delivery?
Our delivery dates are estimates and not guaranteed delivery dates. You can view our Christmas 2023 delivery information here.
How Can I Get Organised for Christmas?
By following our month-by-month Christmas checklist, in a nutshell, you'll want to decide on a budget, create a to-do list, plan ahead, start shopping early and get your calendar in order.
When Should I Start Preparing for Christmas?
It's never too early to start prepping for Christmas. The consensus in the office is to begin prepping in September, but we all know people who start even earlier than that!
When Should I Start Buying My Children's Christmas Presents?
Purchase Christmas presents as soon as possible to avoid the hassle of hunting for popular items that often go out of stock as the big day approaches. Plus, this ensures you won't worry about whether your gift will arrive in plenty of time.