It may only be October, but Christmas is hurtling towards us and, before we know it, it's going to be nothing but candy canes and carol singers and the extended family will be knocking on our doors.
That's why we're using this October half term to get ahead for Christmas. You know, before life takes hold and we realise on 24 December that we haven't done half the stuff on our lists yet (we've all been there…)
Check out some of our top tips to get ahead for the festive season below.
Get started on the pudding
Homemade puds are traditionally made on Stir-up Sunday, which this year falls on 25 November - although making your pud a month earlier won't do it any harm. If anything, it will help the flavours develop and deepen, giving you that tasty, matured flavour we all know and love.
Once your pudding is made, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. For moist, rich-flavoured pud, 'feed' it by pouring over 1-2tbsp brandy once a week. To encourage the liquor to soak into the pudding, poke a few holes in the top using a skewer. For a non-alcoholic version, try feeding your pud with cold tea instead - an English Breakfast blend works well, or use a herbal or fruit variety to give it extra zing.
Start collecting boxes and wrapping
It's never too early to start collecting old boxes, cardboard, ribbons and tape for wrapping presents nearer the time. Reusing old boxes by wrapping them in Christmas paper is not only a good excuse to get crafty, but it will save you so much money compared to buying hoards of brand new gift bags and gift boxes.
Plan where you'll be and when
One of the best parts of Christmas is getting all of the extended family together for some quality family time. However, this can make Christmas a logistical nightmare. Have a think about where you're going to spend Christmas Day, Boxing Day and the days leading up to New Year's and with whom.
Are you hosting? Send out invitations to make sure your guests aren't making other plans. Are you planning on staying with family? Work out your travel plans, where you'll be sleeping, and start thinking about what you'll need to take with you. (Caution: Christmas presents take up an awful lot of room in the boot - especially if there's children!)
Hunt out some top present-hiding locations
It's a truth universally acknowledged that children will look for Christmas presents around the house in the lead up to the festive period. Use this week to see where the kids are and aren't more likely to look for hidden gifts. In need of a hiding place? Try keeping presents at work, in your car boot, where you keep your cleaning supplies, or even at a friend's house.
Make a menu
If you're planning on hosting, use this time to plan what you're going to have for your Christmas dinner to relieve the stress of hurriedly getting a menu together nearer the time. This will stop you from panic-buying seasonal deals when you hit the shops in the weeks leading up to Christmas, leaving you with a hodge-podge menu (and an empty bank account) come Christmas Day.
Tracking your spending as you go is key to getting organised for the festive season, and stocking up ahead of time with store cupboard Christmas goodies like crackers, stuffing mix, frozen party food and candles and napkins is a great way to do this.
Start thinking about personalised gifts
Getting ahead with Christmas prep means you've got some extra time to conjure up some extra special, personal and heartfelt gifts for your loved ones.
Make someone's day with a personalised gift that reminds them of a special time or person. Our printing service offers personalised wall canvases, cushions, photobooks, mugs, tea towels, calendars and more. So start digging through your photo library and get some extra special gift ideas on the way!
Already feeling the Christmas spirit? Diffusers and candles add a lovely Christmassy feel to your home. For a subtle fragrance that won’t overpower a room, try a Yankee Candle Home Inspiration Sunlight on Snow Medium Jar with notes of white musk and sandalwood. Or go sweet with the Yankee Candle Home Inspiration Candy Cane Lane Medium Jar. If you prefer a DIY job, get the kids to help you make pomanders by pushing cloves into oranges to release a spicy, citrus perfume around your home.
Switching soft furnishings is another easy way to take your home from ‘winter is coming’ to full-on ‘deck the halls’. Jazz up a guest room with a cosy Brushed Red Tartan Double Duvet set, or add character to your bedroom with a fun Christmas Sausage Dogs Double Duvet set.