Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Countdown to Christmas: Part 2

Welcome to the second installment in Jo's Christmas preparations!

Right now, I imagine that Christmas is not the first thing on the minds of my dear friends in the States. For your sakes, this is a low-key week of preparations. I know that you have Thanksgiving coming up, and hope that you can all enjoy the reminder to feel thankful without feeling unhappy or stressed by the occasion.

I have to confess that I'm not feeling particularly festive, and really don't feel like making preparations. I have lots of appointments this week, but I am going to push myself to get at least a few things done, otherwise I know that I'll struggle nearer the time. Murphy's law dictates that I will end up in hospital during the whole of my last minute preparation time if I leave things too late. Actually, I'll probably be in hospital anyway (gotta love hospital wi-fi and online shopping!) but at least it's one thing off my mind if I'm up to date with my Christmas preparations.

I spent three weeks out of the four leading up to my wedding in hospital, which would have been somewhat stressful if we hadn't got most of the organising done months in advance, so I'm a big advocate for forward-planning. Those of us with chronic illness have to make the most of our good days so that we can focus on nothing but taking care of ourselves when we have bad days.

So what am I doing this week?

1. Ordering gifts online: There are some good deals around at the moment (I got 25% off most of the presents I ordered on Friday), especially with Black Friday coming up. Amazon are promoting their Black Friday deals, some of which look very good. I'm trying to consolidate all my orders so that I get all my Amazon gifts (and gifts from other websites) ordered at the same time, rather than having to go back and forth to the same sites with repeat orders. This is where the list that I made last week is particularly handy!

2. Making sauces, jams and chutneys: Cranberry sauce will freeze nicely until we're ready to use it. Jams are designed to be stored, and chutneys are considerably better if they have a few weeks to mature and develop their flavours. This year I plan to make a spiced apple chutney (it's an old favourite that I make every year, and never seem to be able to make enough to satisfy everyone!), sparkly plum jam (with edible glitter), cranberry sauce, and some sort of cranberry and apple jelly. The apples for the chutney are already cooked and stored in the freezer, so the chutney preparation will be low-effort - just adding the flavours.

3. Still plodding away at the Christmas cards: Helen (over at the Creaky Girl blog) suggested mail-merging addresses to print out onto sticky labels for the cards. I am definitely going to do this! The strength in my hands isn't great, and I get a lot of pain and illegible handwriting after a short time, so it seems sensible to conserve my hand function for the message, rather than wasting it writing names and addresses onto envelopes. As Helen rightly pointed out, it's quite a lot of effort initially, but I will be able to use the list again and again. Wish I'd done that for our wedding invitations and thank you cards!

4. Wrapping presents: We have a theme every year. This year it's brown paper with brightly-coloured ribbon and the names of the recipients stamped onto the paper. I haven't decided whether I'm going to emboss the names or not. I'll see how much my wrists hurt after wrapping. Thank goodness for sellotape dispensers! I have different boxes for the wrapped presents, depending on where they're going - thankfully this year we only have two stops on our Christmas tour, but in previous years we've had four or five stops, with a corresponding number of boxes. Once the boxes are filled, they're ready to sit until we leave for our Christmas tour, when they can be lifted straight into the boot of the car. Easy!

Wrapping paper theme for Christmas 2011 - brown paper and ribbon

5. Choosing (and ordering online) the wine for Christmas Day: We are spending Christmas with Richard's family up in the North West this year. We've been told that we don't need to help with the meal, as we'll be doing a lot of traveling, but Richard will make his traditional chocolate roulade and I'll bring chutneys and jams, which is a good tactical move, as I want to contribute something, but probably won't be much more use than a bump on a log after all the traveling! We've also offered to choose and bring the wine for Christmas Day. It's fun to choose wine to go with each course, with sherry to start and port to finish. We put money aside each month during the year as a 'wine fund', so this isn't an extra Christmas expense, thankfully.

6. Starting to buy and wrap the presents for Richard's stocking: We make stockings for each other every year, and they follow very specific rules:
  • Chocolate coins and an orange (Richard has a chocolate orange because he doesn't like real ones!)
  • Something to eat
  • Something to read
  • Something pretty
  • Something useful
  • Something to wear
  • Something to listen to
  • Something to play with
And that's all for this week. I'm desperate to start making the Christmas playlist for my iPhone, but I'm holding off for as long as possible. I make the same mistake every year, starting the Christmas music too early and then finding myself utterly jaded and sick of it by mid-December. But not this year - this year will be the year that I break that trend!

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J


  1. I love your stocking tradition!
    Saw you over at Rachel's so came over to say hello.

  2. I love how organized you are. Me, not soi much.

    For music, I suggest that you load in Bach's Christmas Oratorio and the Messiah. There is not enough time before Christmas to tire of them, especially if you add traditional carols.

  3. absolutely love your wrapping theme :)

  4. Thanks Colleen! Great to see you here - thanks for popping in from Rachel's site!

    Bill, that's literally the best idea I've heard all day! I adore Messiah (first sang it aged 14 and have loved it ever since), but always forget to include it with my Christmas carols. You're right - I could never tire of that!

    Lil Tinx - thank you for your sweet comment on our wrapping theme. I love doing a theme. Too indecisive, so it would take me forever if I didn't. I'd want to wrap every present with a new and exciting idea! Last year we wrapped everything in pearlised black paper, tied with cream grosgrain ribbon - really chic! Which is why we're going a bit rustic this year! Hope your lungs are behaving. Sending hugs!