Do you find that it gets to a date in December and it’s like someone’s flicked a switch and suddenly hours seem to melt away and yet your to-do lists get longer?

Put a clip in the madness and try following, these are hacks that I’ve devised over the past few years and they seem to help stem the madness a little bit…

Make as much food as you can that you can freeze

God bless Delia Smith. Years ago she did a run down on what you should be doing in the days and nights up to Christmas Day to help spread the load. Freezing was something I’d never considered assuming that the food would taste better if prepared freshly on the day. WRONG! In fact, her cranberry and red cabbage dish tastes even better after being frozen for a while as the flavours are accentuated. Roasted potatoes, creamed spinach, mashed parsnip are all items on your Christmas table that can be prepared, cooked, frozen, thawed and reheated on the day. Just remember to thaw them out completely on Christmas Eve so they’re ready to cook and boom, that’s saved you loads of stress and time.

Get inventive with presents for teachers

One of my friends is a teacher, at the end of every term she comes home laden with at least twenty mugs. Whilst I know she appreciates the sentiment, I asked her what she’d suggest as an alternative. Her eyes lit up the most when she told me about a handwritten poem from a student. A nice card with a heartfelt message will do, a drawing is even better. If shopping is more your thing then she suggested the following: macaroons, cheese board, scarfs, gloves, notepads, pens, wine, you get the idea …

Secret Santa as a family. saves money and time

For immediate family definitely go nuts if you want to. But for the four cousins that you barely see, or the step-Aunt, twice removed, then Christmas really can be a ball-ache when you’re trying to create inventive presents. My family suggested three years ago that we try a ‘secret santa’ approach and it’s worked an absolute charm. Far from being a chore it’s saved me hours of time and hundreds of dollars. Include a lovely card letting them know that you’re glad you picked them, and why you bought them what you did and you’re onto a winner with a heartfelt gift or a funny toy.

If people offer help say YES

If someone offers to help then just say: ‘thank you that would be great.’It doesn’t mean that you can’t cope, it doesn’t mean that you’re not skilled enough to do it yourself, it just means that they’re lovely and want to help out. chances are they’ve been in your hosting shoes themselves and know how great it is to have someone on your side. Now I’ve gone one step further, I write down a list of all of the different jobs – from hanging people’s coats and being in charge of them, down to cooking and serving up dessert. Then cherry pick the ones you really want to do and allocate roles for everyone else to take pride in something. Even if it’s a seemingly tiny task – taking the rubbish out or brushing up the pine needles from the tree so you don’t step on one in the middle of the night – ouch. Divide the tasks and conquer the job.

Stop looking at Pinterest

It’s great for ideas but too much gazing at Pinterest will drive you to insanity, especially when the dog’s come in and shaken his wet fur everywhere and the kids have knocked over the tree and your picture perfect scene is suddenly destroyed.

Comparison really is the thief of all joy. Most of the photographic scenes on Pinterest don’t have families in them. Place five people, all hyped up about no school, no work and lots of presents and toys everywhere and you’re going to have an entirely different photo – and so it should be!

Take inspiration definitely. But don’t beat yourself up if you can’t source the exact table runner as in the photo, chances are people won’t even notice, they’ll just be enjoying the day as it is.

Enjoy your Christmas! Join me and get cooking now and freezing it!

Featured Photo Courtesy: daniel-silva-gaxiola