I recently ran a 600 Likes gift lottery that invited people to share some of their top festive tips and suggestions so to kick-off the Christmas countdown here is what they shared plus a few more of my own...
1. If you want to see if your Christmas lights are even, squint your eyes and you can see where the gaps are. (Marie Anne McDonnell)
2. To stop cats and kittens running up Christmas trees, put orange peel amongst the branches as they hate citrus smells. (Aisling Hunter McBrearty)
3. Cut your Christmas tree early as they are all cut at the same time and you will have more choice. Then saw a small amount off the bottom and sit in a bucket of water until ready to bring inside. (Lisa Henderson)
4. Put your Christmas tree into water as soon as you get it home as the sap dries to fill the holes it uses to take in water. Also put some lemonade in the bowl as the sugar helps it to last longer! (Hollie Roeber Barnsley)
5. Every year at the start of advent some friends and I get together to do some cooking and crafting, reflecting and setting priorities, wherever that might be for all of us, before the madness and increasingly frantic list writing takes over. (Margaret McCreedy)
6. Have a good sort out of old toys and books a month or so before Christmas to make room for new ones. The old ones can be donated to others in need. (Una Campbell)
7. At the start of December have a kitchen cupboard, fridge and freezer wind-down/clear-out so you're ready to stock-up with all the Christmas goodies.
8. Take some time to consider what you and your loved ones want to get from the Christmas break so everyone feels satisfied at the end of the holidays. Whether it's rest, walks, TV, parties or serious hibernation everyone knowing what the other is hoping for can help you all get the space to do what you need.
9. If like me you like to treat our feathered friends at Christmas, you can make simple bird feeders by melting some lard in a pan, taking it off the heat then adding some mixed bird seed. The mixture can be spooned into bun cases or once cool enough to handle can be moulded into balls. If you don't fancy 'cooking' you can tie string to pinecones, spread peanut butter on them then roll them in birdseed. These are really simple to make with children and the birds love them.
10. I don't think I'm alone in not wanting to deny myself the indulgence that comes with Christmas festivities so I will be making extra sure that there is plenty of time allotted for exercise over the festive period so I don't start the new year feeling like I've undone all my hard work at the gym.