It may still be months until festivities will be in full swing but the countdown to Christmas has already begun! And not just since some of the nation are Christmas fanatics but because there are some practical tasks that should be undertaken over the summer to be ready in time for the main event and to avoid serious disappointment!  So get ahead this year. Thi Dinh, Event Director at The Spirit of Christmas Fair, which returns to Olympia London 29th October – 4th November shares her 8 IDEAL tasks to do in summer for a stress-free Christmas.

BOOK FLIGHTS

If you are going to require a flight to get to your Christmas dinner it’s best to book now! Last year 4.5 million Britons flew overseas at Christmas* and with that demand to compete with, it is wise to book your flight in advance to ensure your plans are not compromised because you couldn’t get a seat on the plane!

CHRISTMAS CAKE

How mature you like your Christmas cake comes down to personal taste. Traditionalists would argue it should be made in late summer for optimum flavour. You will need to wrap the cake and store but “feed” with a spirit at regular intervals – roughly every six weeks to keep it moist. Add a couple of tablespoons of alcohol brandy, whisky or bourbon and rewrap the cake to keep it fresh.

GROW YOUR OWN

Green fingered enthusiasts who want to grow their own plants to decorate or gift, need to be planted and cared for from the summer. Poinsettia plants, Christmas cacti and amaryllis bloom are all lovely festive choices that need to be planted now. If you want to grow your own veg too, you are in fact nearly out of time with now being your last chance to get some root vegetables ready in time for your Christmas dinner!

MENTAL GIFT LIST

You might want to save your shopping until nearer the time but if you have a big family or a notoriously difficult partner to buy for, start your mental gift list now. Gifts can get repetitive so if you want to make more thoughtful purchases, start taking notes. Luxury sunglasses that got broken on holiday, birthday gifts that your friends were disappointed they didn’t receive, toys your children were fascinated by at birthday parties earlier in the year – think now and enjoy easy buying later. The Spirit of Christmas Fair offers Christmas shoppers endless inspiration with an unrivalled collection of independent boutiques and designer-makers – there’s 825 to choose from!

CRAFTED GIFTS

Not all Christmas gifts and items are a fast and simple transaction. If you have the creation of a knitted blanket or Christmas jumper in mind, you won’t be the only one and need to make sure you get yourself in an orderly queue. Knitwear has exploded on the festive scene in recent years and if you have plans to commission a hand knitter for something truly personal, ensure you give them ample time to fulfil your order. Large items take time and Christmas will be a peak period where they will be juggling many orders.  And of course, if you’re knitting your own Christmas gifts – best to start sooner rather than later to save you knitting up until midnight on Christmas Eve!

GUEST LIST

Amongst all the lovely Christmas festivities, family politics is one thing we can all live without. Summer is a good time to open conversations about hosting or making invitations whilst there is plenty of time to get organised and discuss plans with various family members and compare numerous diaries, ensuring no one is left behind.

BOOK CHRISTMAS EVENTS

Christmas events attract the masses. If you enjoy the Christmas markets or panto, make sure you book the festivities in now whilst there’s still availability. The UK’s biggest high-end Christmas shopping event, the Spirit of Christmas Fair, is returning to London, Monday 29 October until Sunday 4 November with their widest ever collection, there’s even more to see and do! Ring up your friends, book your tickets and start planning your visit!

MAKE YOUR BEAUTY APPOINTMENTS

There are fewer places more hectic than beauty salons in the weeks before Christmas and during party season. For this reason, hairdressers often urge clients to think ahead and get booked in early for December. In a popular salon there is no capacity for last minute requests during the Christmas countdown. Know your diary and make your Christmas appointment during your summer visit to the salon.

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Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.