Things to do differently

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It’s the 5th January and I’ve just completed my first swim in nearly 3 weeks and am writing my first blog post in even longer. Back in the heady days of November, I came up with 5 top tips to get more organised for Christmas – which I followed through on and yes, as with the year before, they really did make everything easier. I have to say pulling a tub each of home-made cranberry sauce and bread sauce out of the freezer Christmas morning was very satisfying.

It’s just, that in spite of following my top five tips, by 1am on Christmas Eve (or make that Christmas morning), I was only halfway through a five-day cooking marathon and was still wrapping up Christmas presents – and that was just for those who would be receiving presents on Christmas day! I was frazzled and Father Christmas’ delivery of presents was done with not a little grumpiness on the part of the elf.

So like the good project manager that I am, I have undertaken a post implementation review of our Christmas  and here is what I am going to be doing differently next year, on top of the things that I tried to do this year.

1. Get all Christmas shopping done by the end of November, not just stocking presents (as well as getting all the Christmas cards done) – no excuses. Both my husband and I spent precious time up in town buying things that we could have bought weeks before, or going to pick missed parcels up at the post office that we could have spent relaxing with each other and our family.  My husband thinks a target of getting everything wrapped by the end of November is a bit much, so I’m going to target all things wrapped by the time the Christmas Tree goes up.

2. I am very happy with my regular Christmas menu and as it’s Christmas, I like to do things like make home-made pasta for the lasagne or cook my own ham etc, so I’m not going to countenance cutting corners there. But, but, there is a whole lot more making up in advance that I could do, above and beyond the bread sauce and cranberry sauce. So, this year, I’m going to be putting notes in my electronic diary on what dishes I can put in the freezer throughout the second half of November and in December so that I am not spending the 23rd and 24th chained to the kitchen. I’m actually going to do this now (with ingredients lists to add to my online shop) so that it’s more that just a vague intention. This includes stuff like buying the Christmas Wine, which my husband did on 23rd December but which I’m pretty sure wasn’t going to go off over the 4 days that it took us to drink it.

3. Which brings me nicely to Point 3, which is to take time out to plan these few days to make sure the activity undertaken in the last few days before Christmas really is the important stuff, like going to visit Father Christmas or going as a family to buy the cheese from the Cheese Block, in East Dulwich.  I missed out on this Christmas Eve family tradition as I had too much to do!  So, to get it right, this planning needs to be detailed and well thought out (just like the planning stage on any project should be). I’m going to be doing mine in the next couple of weeks while my experiences from this year are fresh in my mind and I happen to have some time off before I start my next contract. I’m going to be putting reminders in my diary which will pop on my phone in a few months time, working out which weekends I’m going to be shopping, or writing Christmas cards, or cooking for the freezer (or indeed clearing out the freezer to make room for Christmas stuff), coming up with ingredient shopping lists etc, etc.  Whilst January might be a bit early for some, I think this needs to be done by August or September at the latest, to make sure you have the full run up to Christmas available.

So, those are my three big lessons learnt but like all good post implementation reviews it’s not enough to just pick on what could be done better but also what went right, but I’ll leave that for my next blog post – I’d better get my planning done for the coming year whilst I’m still feeling evangelical about it all.

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