This Christmas, we asked our brilliant authors to share their fantastic festive hints and tips for the holiday season! Including advice on creating your own Christmas gift tags, decorating your dinner table in secret, and even keeping your pets happy, this blog post is sure to come in handy when you’re planning Christmas next year!
M. A. Kuzniar, author of Midnight in Everwood
“Save all your Christmas cards to make next year’s gift tags! Simply cut out your favourite images, stick them onto card and add some festive ribbon and you’ve added a lovely handmade touch to your seasonal gifting.”
Jessica Ryn, author of The Imperfect Art of Caring
“The way I prepare for Christmas would make some people break out in hives! I leave all my present shopping until the last week before Christmas. There’s something special about the hustle and bustle of shoppers getting last minute gifts, and the Christmas music in the stores means more to me when it’s *actually* nearly Christmas!
I do my wrapping on what’s affectionately known in my family as ‘Christmas eve-eve,’ whilst watching Love Actually and drinking a weak snowball with a cherry in it.
My top festive hint is to stay away from cheap sellotape. It ALWAYS splits, ALWAYS ruins nails and a decent sellotape will save you hours of trying to find ‘the end!'”
Rebecca Raisin, author of Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop
“On December 1st we surprise our twins with a Christmas box! Inside the box are Christmas books, festive PJs, Christmas movies, popcorn, gingerbread and usually whatever cosy Christmas things I can find, like Santa slippers or Elf socks. It’s become a tradition we all love and it signifies the start of celebrations and it’s a fun way to make the festive season last longer!”
T. Orr Munro, author of Breakneck Point
“Don’t decorate the room where you have Christmas dinner until Christmas Day! Before you sit down to eat, shoo the kids out of the room and quickly hang as many tinsel foil garlands and ceiling decorations (Wilko are the best!) above the table as are humanly possible. Then turn the lights off, light candles on the table and sides and invite them in for a sparkly magical start to their Christmas dinner! I guarantee you’ll get a wow when they walk in!”
Philippa East, author of Safe and Sound
“Where to spend Christmas – with my husband, my family, or my in-laws? To solve this conundrum, my husband and I have our own Christmas celebration the weekend before, and then head off to our respective families for Christmas day. It’s a great way to have Christmas together as a couple while also keeping both our respective families happy!”
Diane Jeffrey, author of The Silent Friend
“I live in France, where Christmas traditions are rather different from the UK. We mix up the traditions to get the best of both worlds. We eat seafood on Christmas Eve and turkey on Christmas Day; we put out shoes and hang up stockings; we go to Christmas markets and we watch British TV, which is unbeatable over Xmas! Unlike most of our town, we don’t go to mass. Instead, we have a playlist of Christmas carols!
My top tip is to get your Xmas supplies in early! My parents send us a huge box from the UK. Along with our presents, they put in things we can’t do without at Christmas – a tin of Quality Street or Roses, mince pies (I hate mince pies, but my (French) husband loves them!), Cranberry sauce, Dairy Milk chocolate, baked beans for a full English breakfast on Boxing Day and, finally, Bisto gravy (although another tip would be to make Jamie Oliver’s Christmas gravy, which I did last Christmas for the first time. It was easy and delicious!).”
Dija Ayodele, author of Black Skin
“If you find present buying difficult for the grown ups in your life, get some fancy paper and envelops and write them a short note or letter full of good wishes for the new year ahead. It’s a low cost, no stress present that ends up being a treasured keepsake!”
Michelle Rawlins, author of The Steel Girls series
“Most years, I aim to make my own Stollen and Christmas cake at the end of November from Nigel Slater’s The Christmas Chronicles. Not only does it taste better if you make it early, but it means I’m not panicking when, come December, I haven’t got enough time.”
Kathleen McGurl, author of The Girl from Bletchley Park
“Our Christmas this year is going to be very different from usual. My husband and I are away in Spain in our motorhome. We’ve persuaded our grown-up sons to fly out to join us over Christmas, and, hurray! they’ve agreed and are excited about it. I’m so looking forward to them arriving.
It makes me realise that what’s important about Christmas is not the traditions or the turkey or the presents or the Queen on the TV. It’s about bringing your family together, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.”
Neil Lancaster, author of Dead Man’s Grave
“Get your pets involved! My dog Peggy is a huge fan of Christmas, as her usual kibble will be supplemented by turkey and pigs in blankets, although she’s less pleased about the elf outfit we got for her, and she thinks the hat ruins her hair…”
Louise Mumford, author of Sleepless
“Okay, I get it – some of you are all over Christmas. You’re wrapped in tinsel and singing carols in the first week of November and by December your living room is more glitter than sofa. However, some of us just don’t get Christmas, we don’t understand the frenzy of it and so here are some tips for those, like me, who simply want to save some time.
The tree. One word – tabletop. You can buy these mini trees from lots of shops now, and they come pre-dressed. All you do is get it out of its box, whack it up, turn on its lights and you’re set. Give yourself a drink as a reward.
The presents. My wrapping, no matter how hard I try, resembles the kind of thing a kidnapper would use to mail out body parts from their latest victim. No one wants that. Lots of shopping centres offer free wrapping services – USE THEM (or better, don’t wrap at all…. think of all that saved paper, very eco-friendly.) Give yourself a drink as a reward.
The dinner. Pre-prepared is your friend. Don’t be snobby about it, a lot of the ready-made stuff tastes no different to the vegetables you’ve spent a whole morning washing and peeling. Make the kitchen timer your friend, keep it simple and… yes, you’ve guessed it: give yourself a drink as a reward.
Enjoy all of that saved time!”