Why a Christmas checklist is your ticket to stress-free festivities

3 Nov 2020


It’s that time of year again! The weather is getting colder and the nights are drawing in – and, with 2020 being the year it’s been, we all need something to look forward to. Although some of you may be shuddering at the sight of Christmas decorations already gracing the shelves of the supermarket, with a high-quality Christmas checklist, you can have one of the best Christmasses yet!

The sooner you get yourself a Christmas checklist, the sooner you can sit back and relax with a smooth, decadent chocolate cream liqueur. Not sure where to start? Read on for your ultimate Christmas checklist guide.

Is it worth making a Christmas checklist?

Woman writing a Christmas checklist

The answer to this is a resounding yes. There’s so much to think about with Christmas preparation, particularly if you’re hosting.


First, there are the decorations. Do you need to buy any new decorations? Do the lights work – and how long will it take you to detangle them after their stint in the loft? If you have a real tree, you’ll need to organise picking one up early, so you don’t turn up to a woebegone collection of straggly firs at the shop.


Second, you’ve got to think about presents. How many people do you have to buy gifts for? Do your cousins still expect you to buy presents for their 13-year-old daughter you haven’t spoken to in two years? There’s nothing worse than the sinking feeling of forgetting to buy a present for someone, so it’s good to get a comprehensive checklist sorted.

Where and how?

Then we have the logistics. Where will you celebrate the big day? If you’re in a relationship, you need to work out who is going to who’s family and when, and whether there are any other family obligations you need to fulfil.


Lastly, and most importantly (for us, at least!) there’s the food. A Christmas dinner is the ultimate feast of crispy roast potato, rich gravy and turkey decadence, and we’ve been looking forward to it for months – no pressure! If you are hosting, then your Christmas dinner checklist will be a great tool to help keep you on track, as it can be stressful to cook dinner and ensure your guests are comfortable at the same time.

If you’re not hosting, then why not call up the person who is and ask whether you can prepare a part of the meal to bring with you? This could really help take some of the onus off them for making the meal a perfect one.

Real Simple has put together the ‘Ultimate Christmas Countdown Checklist which helpfully sets out what tasks you may wish to tackle from October all the way through to the big day itself so you’ll have no excuse for missing a trick, no matter how small.

Where to start with Christmas planning

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with where to start with a Christmas planner, you can’t go far wrong with this practical list of 100 things to do before Christmas day.

This list has got everything, from buying long-life items to creating a Christmas eve activity box for the kids. Although it’s great to use these Christmas checklists as inspiration, they might not always align with how you like to celebrate the big day. We recommend writing your own (and ideally with fewer than 100 items!) so that you know that everything on the list is relevant and necessary to you and your family.

Advent Calendars

Organising doesn’t have to be boring, either! One of the first things you can get under your Christmas checklist belt is choosing the advent calendar you want to accompany you through the festive period.

Here at Hotel Chocolat, we have a plethora of options to suit everyone, including a dark chocolate fanatic’s dream or our Grand Advent Calendar, where you’ll find chocolates mixed in with bottles of booze! We even have a blog about the origins of advent for those who want to truly understand the story behind your advent calendar. 

Christmas present checklist

It’s also good to get a hold on your present strategy early on to save yourself the frantic pre-Christmas weekends running into town.

Fear not, as we have a whole range of Christmas products to satisfy any preference. Some of the favourites include – The Festive Bestsellers Collection and the Merry Christmas Everyone Collection. For your guests who are more tipple-inclined, consider the Cacao Gin Collection, the Velvetised Espresso Martini Cream Liqueur and the Salted Caramel and Clementine Chocolate Cream Liqueur. To put it simply, we have you covered.

Why not pick up a few extra Christmas stocking fillers for those last-minute emergency presents? Even if you’re too organised to need them, that just means you have a present (or two) for yourself…

Planning when to decorate

Christmas decorations

Everyone seems to have conflicting ideas around the right time to put up the decorations. The difference lies in which religion you adhere to. If you go by Roman Catholic traditions, your tree wouldn’t be up until Christmas eve, but in Western Christianity, you would start decking the halls at the start of Advent. This is the Sunday closest to November 30th – the feast of St Andrew.

However, supermarkets like to think that we like to get the decorations up as soon as Halloween is out the way – which is incredibly keen!

Regardless of your school of thought, planning when to decorate should be a household decision and may also be influenced by where you are spending the holidays. For instance, if you won’t be home for a significant portion of the season, perhaps you’ll be scaling back the decorations. If you have the fun task of hosting, however, you may want to go all out.

Of course, a huge part of Christmas is the children – big and small. Choose a day when everyone can get involved, put on the Christmas music and start rocking around that Christmas tree! If you’re running out of things to do to keep your kids entertained, don’t forget to check out our advice here on the best activities for kids and big kids at Christmas.

Christmas checklist for food

Roast turkey being carved

When we think traditional Christmas recipes, you might have your go-to recipe book (Delia’s Christmas, anyone?), but if you’re starting anew, you can’t go far wrong with BBC Good Food. Sure enough, with Christmas, they don’t disappoint. They even have a whole homepage for Christmas Planning from ‘Top 10 Christmas brunch ideas’ to ‘Complete Christmas Menus’.

Vegan and Vegetarian Christmas

They have thought of everything, including how to cater for a vegan Christmas, a vegetarian Christmas, a last-minute Christmas and how to whip up the easiest-ever Christmas dinner. The latter includes a step by step infographic time plan which should put even the newest of host’s minds at ease.

Ideas for a vegan Christmas lunch include a cranberry and lentil bake, a vegan nut roast and a beetroot and red onion tarte tatin. Then for pudding, BBC Good Food has a range of options including a sticky toffee pear pudding and an easy vegan chocolate cake.

For vegetarians, you could opt for a root vegetable tatin with candied nuts and blue cheese or a squash, winter herb and crispy butter bean pie followed by a classic Christmas pudding or a fruit-filled clementine cake.

For more tips and advice for crafting a delicious Christmas meal for people with various dietary requirements, check out our helpful Christmas dinner for everyone blog.

Planning Christmas parties

People with food and drink at a party

So everyone knows Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, so why not make it extra special by throwing a party or two? This in itself will take some planning. The first questions you may want to consider are as follows:

  • How many people can you comfortably accommodate?
  • How many people do you want to accommodate?…(a separate question entirely)
  • Is it a drinks party or a dinner party?
  • Are you having to accommodate certain food preferences such as vegetarians, pescatarians, vegans etc

Once you have a hold on the above, the fun can really begin with deciding on a menu and a theme.

Types of Christmas party

Whether you’re hankering for adults-only evening with cocktails, music and chatter, or a child-friendly Christmas bonanza with activities and games, a Christmas party is a great way to get everyone in the mood.

Get the kids involved in an afternoon of cookie making – throw in some Hotel Chocolat chocolate drops and crack out those festive cookie-cutters! Use a freezer bag with a tiny hole in the corner to have a go at decorating them with the icing of your choice.

If a boozy evening is more your thing, then we’ve got you sorted. Make it simple with our delicious Chocolat Cream Liqueurs – they’re delicious served straight on the rocks. To try your hand at cocktail-making, check out our delicious cocktail recipes, from our Salted Caramel Soother to our Cocoa Gin Martini.

Sometimes, the stress of Christmas preparation means you just want to curl up with a hot drink and a chat with some of your closest friends. Why not invite them over for a hot chocolate tasting? Pick up our variety pack of single-serves and indulge in our divine selection of hot chocolate. From decadent Hazelnut Praline to warming Ginger, you’ll find one to everyone’s taste.

Planning a schedule for Christmas day

woman at computer making a list

By the time Christmas day finally comes around, you’re going to want to know everything is sorted. It might seem easier to let the day flow as people want, but it’s actually much nicer to have a schedule to lean on. This is especially true if you have lots of kids around, as they’re going to need entertaining!

Don’t overthink it – just work out when you’re going to open presents, what time you need to leave to visit family, and what activities you can distract the kids with during the inevitable food-coma downtime. Is there a Christmas movie you want to watch, or the all-important Strictly come Dancing finale? Make sure you don’t miss them – it’s your day to enjoy as well!

If you’re hosting, you’ll also need to organise the food. In which case, BBC Good Food has a very handy schedule which saves you the hassle of making one yourself. Try and get as much as you can prepped the day before, and be ready to start early on the day itself! For large turkeys, you might have to put it in the oven as early as 9:30 a.m.

If you’ve got older children, why not delegate tasks to them as well? Don’t feel like you have to do everything yourself, as you’ll just end up getting stressed and overwhelmed by everything. Work out what tasks you can give to others and make sure they know what to do and when.

Once you’ve opened your presents, eaten the food and finally sat down, it’s time to revel in the pride of a job well done. With a Christmas checklist, you’ve made your Christmas as easy and stress-free as possible. Time to relax!