Most of us have only just started to turn our thoughts to Christmas. But our laissez-faire attitude to planning means that, in all likelihood, we’ll be left facing a manic few weeks in the run up to the big day.
Not so these ultra-organised women. They tell Sadie Nicholas how they’ve already got Christmas wrapped up . . .
I’ll make four puds – and I’ve got 20 outfits
Abigail Brown, 39, works in financial services and lives in Market Harborough with partner Guillaume, 36, an engineer, and their daughter, Alice, six. Abigail says:
Abigail Brown switches on her festive fridge freezer on November 10 so she can start preparing the £1,500 food and drink for the festive season
We have many Christmas traditions. The first is the switch-on of the festive fridge-freezer on November 10. It’s ready for the £1,500 of food and drink for the seven days between Christmas and New Year.
I’ve devised a themed menu for each day with spreadsheets to cover every detail, including which Christmas crackers, chocolates, biscuits and alcohol are allocated to each meal. Every year from mid-November, I start practising recipes on friends.
During Christmas week I’ll serve our 13 guests — including my mum, siblings and in-laws — everything from quail to goose and a beef wellington. I’ll also rustle up desserts including four varieties of Christmas pudding: traditional, salted caramel, a boozy one and a chocolate version for the kids.
I bought this year’s cards in the January sales and by Easter I’d finished sourcing gifts for 25 people.
I know I’ve spent far more than the £100 a month I allow myself, so I’ve decided not to tot it up! We have already decorated a 6ft artificial tree. I don’t collect our real fir tree until December 18, as I want it to look plump and lush.
This year I’ve also bought more than 20 different outfits, including a gorgeous rose gold, sequinned halter-neck dress from Monsoon for Christmas Day, and the traditional silly jumper — even though I already have 40.
Abigail has already put up her artificial tree although she will decorate a real version on December 18 for the party season
During Christmas week she plans to serve 13 guests — including her mother, siblings and in-laws — everything from quail to goose and a beef wellington – as well as four versions of Christmas pudding
Our Christmas card photoshoot? Oh, we did that in October
Jouelle Baracho, 39, works for a bank and lives in Surrey with husband Steve, 37, also a banker, and daughters Jiselle, six, and Shanelle, two. She says:
Jouelle Dias, pictured with her husband Steve, along with their children Jiselle, six and Shanelle, two, had their Christmas portraits taken in October
Festivities start in October when we have a professional photoshoot for our Christmas card. Our friends are always desperate to see it drop through the letterbox!
We’ve been doing it since Jiselle was born and have posed in everything from festive jumpers to tutus and reindeer antlers. This year the photographer made her studio a Santa’s workshop.
My cut-off date for having the tree and decorations up, including the outside lights, is November 28, and this year I’ve outstripped my target.
The gifts are bought and wrapped and the invitations have gone out for the Christmas Day party we throw every year at our three-bedroom home for around 30 family and friends.
We play games, open presents, do Secret Santa, eat from the buffet I create, drink and be merry. We’ll kick off with a Buck’s Fizz toast, then move on to various gins, plus Baileys and liqueur shots.
Preparing the food takes me a week. I devise quirky festive names for everything. This year, for the kids, I’ll be making sausage stockings, fish snowballs and meat bauble curry.
There will also be duck, turkey, pork, chicken, side dishes and desserts. Last year I made a Portuguese pudding from biscuits and cream in the shape of mistletoe, and trifles decorated with snowmen carved from strawberries.
Food and drink just for Christmas Day cost around £400, but is a small price for having so many of our loved ones together. Steve and I don’t go mad on gifts.
Now I can sit with a glass of mulled wine and wait for the big day.
Jouelle, pictured with her Christmas tree, said her friends cannot wait for the family portrait to drop through their letterboxes
Jouelle said her cut-off date for having the tree and decorations up, including the outside lights, is November 28
Jouelle said she will be hosting 30 friends and family at her three-bed family home in Surrey on Christmas Day
I’ve already been dancing in Santa pyjamas
Jaye Gohil-Fisher, 39, is a university secretary and lives in London with husband, Robin Fisher, also 39, a legal director, and sons Hari, six, and Jaik, five. Their third baby is due in April. She says:
Jaye Gohil-Fisher, pictured, put up her Christmas tree several weeks ago and regularly dances to festive songs
Since putting up our tree a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been in full Christmas mode.
My husband keeps walking in on me dancing to festive music in my Santa pyjamas and exclaiming: ‘What is going on — it’s November!’
My deadline to have the festivities up and running is mid-November, as the idea of a last-minute panic makes me shudder.
A couple of years ago I woke on Christmas Eve in a sweat having realised I’d forgotten to buy fresh bread to go with the pate for Christmas lunch.
I shot down to M&S when it opened at 7am.
Ever since, while other people spend December in a tizzy, I’m calm. I’ve even decided on my Christmas Day outfit — a sequinned number bought in October.
I start Christmas shopping in spring, keeping lists of gifts I’ve bought and ones I need, as well as food and drink.
I’m a Christmas control freak and don’t let Robin get involved.
Our tree is up already — the kids helped me to decorate it in their haphazard manner, but when they were in bed, I rearranged the baubles.
I use the same decorations every year because they co-ordinate perfectly with our grey and white kitchen diner.
Jaye sets a deadline over decorating her house in mid-November as she cannot cope with the thought of a last-minute panic
I blow £3,000 a year – and the kids’ clothes match the tree decorations
Carly Grayson, 27, is a hairdresser and lives in Hertfordshire with her two daughters aged five and nine months. She says:
Carly Grayson from Hertfordshire, will spend £3,000 on Christmas this year – including almost £600 on food
Christmas at my house is a military operation. Preparations start in January and are wrapped up — literally — by November.
My mum, me and other female relatives have a text-message group dedicated to nailing the Christmas arrangements. It’s a standing joke in the family that I have a dedicated, year-round Christmas cupboard.
I always put my tree up super early — this year’s went up two weeks ago — because it makes the living room look so pretty and cosy after dark.
This year, I’ve decorated the tree with faux roses, peonies and baubles, plus ballerinas that match my daughters’ Christmas Day outfits.
Every year I pay a local seamstress to make outfits for them, and this year the eldest has a tutu and my baby has a matching romper.
They cost £50, but will be keepsakes.
I spend around £3,000 on Christmas — £800 of which I blow in January.
I’m hosting Christmas this year, and the food delivery — which is booked for December 22 — came to £580.
It includes lots of luxuries and my brother and brother-in-law have organised the wine, beer and cinnamon vodka, which cost another £200.
Carly spending on Christmas begins in January so she is fully prepared for the next festive season
I’m the most organised out of all my friends – and they’re jealous
Chrissy Davies, 36, is a housewife and lives in Birmingham with her husband Ian, 42, an electrician, and their daughter Cassidy, four. She says:
My tree is up, the presents are bought and wrapped and the Christmas food shop has already been ordered from the butcher and supermarket. I’m by far the most organised of my friends — and they’re jealous.
Planning starts with the January sales, when I start buying gifts, cards and wrapping paper. When September arrives, I step things up a gear to make sure I’ve finished all the shopping by the time the month is up. I never buy gifts online — I love looking around all the shops for the perfect gift, and really make an occasion of it.
I buy for around 20 people and keep a list of what I’ve got for whom, then dedicate a whole day to wrapping everything while listening to Christmas music.
Chrissy Davies from Birmingham begins her Christmas planning in January – including picking up a half-price artificial tree
Chrissy said she never buys anything online as she loves going around different shops looking for the perfect gift
My husband just rolls his eyes and lets me get on with it. But whatever he says I know he loves Christmas, too. Our 8ft artificial tree, which I bought half price for £70 last year, has been resplendent in front of the French doors in our living room for a week already.
Some people may think we’re mad to put it up so early, but I just want the magic to last for as long as possible for Cassidy.
She loved helping me decorate it and this year the theme is silver and white. I spent around £60 on new trimmings, picked up everywhere from garden centres to the supermarket.
Planning well ahead also helps me to keep Christmas to a budget. During the year I pick up luxuries such as chocolates, wine, champagne and liqueurs when they’re on offer and stash them away to spread the cost.
And I’ve only spent around £100 on a fresh food order for the big day. Because I’ve got such a huge family who we see at various points during the holiday, on Christmas Day itself Ian and I like to eat at home on our own with Cassidy so that she can immerse herself in the magic and gifts from Santa.
This year will be her best Christmas yet.