Our contest to win one of two Christmas hampers thanks to Australian Gourmet Gifts uncovered plenty of nifty ideas to make Christmas less stressful. Two overwhelming themes emerged: use a spreadsheet to keep track of the gifts you have planned and purchased, and set a clear schedule of who you'll be visiting when to stop family in-fighting.
The principle of keeping an organised list is more important than the technology you use. While a spreadsheet (be that Excel, Google Docs or LibreOffice) is well-suited to lists, a syncing notes service such as Evernote can be equally useful. Whatever the platform, this was the single most common tip we received.
The other popular suggestion was to make sure that you set a timetable for who you'll see when, an essential step if there are multiple branches of family to visit in the same city. It's almost impossible to see all your relatives in one day, and spreading the visits over several days was also a popular suggestion.
Picking a winner was tough. Ultimately, we gave the runner-up prize of a Christmas Delights Hamper to Lesley for emphasising the usefulness of a dedicated storage area for your carefully planned Christmas purchases:
I have a big wooden chest that I start putting pressies into in August,by Christmas I am totally organised with no more gifts to buy or stress to endure.
The big winner of the Luxury French Sparkling & Chocolate Hamper was Adrian, for this well-expressed and self-rewarding take on the Christmas spreadsheet:
Make a list of people you want to give presents to in an Excel spreadsheet in 4 columns. Put in names, budget, gift bought, money spent in the respective columns so you know how much to spend on each. Shop early and buy when gifts are on sale throughout the year and fill up your spreadsheet including the money spent on each of the gifts. Come Christmas time, take the difference of the total budgeted amount and the amount spent, and if that is a positive figure, buy yourself a gift.
Thanks everyone who entered, and thanks again to Australian Gourmet Gifts for the prizes. Now back to your Christmas planning!