Let the Christmas countdown begin! Follow our six-week festive checklist to get ready for the big day

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail - ensure the festive period runs smoothly with this simple six week checklist

Living room with Christmas tree and wreath above log-burning fire.
(Image credit: Future Plc/Dominic Blackmore)

Whether you're someone who has Christmas music playing from September, or you prefer to wait until Halloween is over, the six-week Christmas countdown is a useful marker for ramping up the festive preparations. For some, the Christmas ideas might already be in full swing, but if you're still deciding on a colour scheme or tree trend to follow, there's still plenty of time. 

Staying on track with the logistical side of Christmas, from ordering the big food shop to ticking each person off your shopping list, will give you more time to enjoy the magic of the festive season. Being organised is key and with busy lives this means planning different tasks for the weeks before the main event so that you can celebrate and relax come the big day. 

Christmas countdown: Our six-week festive checklist

We’ve laid out what you should be prioritising each week in the run-up to advent so you can be the host with the most without breaking out into a sweat.

Not only will this six-week festive planner leave you even more time to sit back and enjoy time with family and friends, but you’ll be gleefully avoiding any last minute dashes to the shops on Christmas Eve.

At this stage, you’re likely to have arranged who’ll be coming over to yours for the day itself so you'll know how many you are catering for.

The next thing you should have on your Christmas checklist, is sorting the ever-fun budget. With perhaps a more frugal Christmas this year, budget Christmas decorating ideas will be coming into their own, so make sure you leave time to get crafty. 

Then, it’s time for the even more fun stuff - like looking for the best Christmas living room decor ideas and enjoying the excitement of finding that perfect for gift for someone special.

Here's our essential Christmas checklist to planning the festivities to perfection.

Six weeks to go ...

Christmas countdown get your online shopping order sorted

(Image credit: Future Plc/Sean Calitz)

With still plenty of time to go, make sure you sit down and think about what you want your Christmas menu to be. Are you opting for a classic turkey, going old school with some goose, or do you need a vegan/vegetarian option on the cards?

Next nab an online delivery slot. Securing a slot for your big online food shop early will take a weight off your shoulders and allow a big fat tick on your to-do list. Around six weeks before the big day should guarantee your sought-after timeslot but they do go quickly. The beauty of doing things online means you can add to and amend your order as the weeks go by, ensuring you've got all the food and drink you need for the celebrations.

Six weeks in advance also leaves you enough time to order an artificial Christmas tree - with so many deliveries delayed this year, it’s worth leaving plenty of time for this one. There are so many amazing Christmas tree ideas out there, so it’s worth allowing yourself time to pick the perfect centrepiece.

Five weeks to go...

Dunelm baubles under a tree in a living room.

(Image credit: Dunelm)

When there’s five weeks to go in the Christmas countdown, that means it’s time for Stir-Up Sunday. A Victorian tradition, Stir-up Sunday is the day for the family to gather and make the Christmas pudding. Once prepped, the pudding can be stored ready for Christmas Day when it simply needs heating up to enjoy. 

This year the date falls on Sunday 27th November, so make sure you’ve got your ingredients ready to go. If you don’t fancy doing things the old fashioned way, pick up one of the best stand mixers to stir in style.

Get online and order any outstanding gifts. Remember that the larger or more popular the item, the more likely it will sell out or have a long lead time for delivery.

Dig out your decs. Before you get dazzled by all the new-season decorations filling shop windows, review what you have first, as it's easy to forget what's lurking in the loft. Check all your Christmas lights are still working and that stockings, Christmas jumpers and festive cushions have all stayed mice and moth-free.

Four weeks to go…

Wrapped Christmas presents in marbled paper sat on top of striped armchair.

(Image credit: Future)

As soon as the gifts have been bought, get wrapping. It's never too soon to get this job done and it's a wonderful way to spend a cold, winter evening. Stick on some jolly tunes, light some scented candles, pour yourself a glass of something chilled and make a night of it.

Setting up a wrapping station will ensure you have all your paper, tape, ribbons, tags and festive flourishes to hand, plus a sturdy surface to wrap on. If you're looking to be more sustainable this year, our zero waste wrapping ideas are sure to inspire you. We love hand-marbling wrapping paper and homemade Christmas crackers for a matchy yet unique scheme. 

Look at decorating the exterior of your home at this stage too, with the latest outdoor Christmas decor ideas adding festive magic to your home. Even if you’re not officially switching them on yet, get the stress of unravelling fairy lights and hunting for weather-proof extension cords out of the way early on.

Get your advent calendars ideas ready! Whether you're looking for the best Christmas advent calendars or are looking for some alternative advent calendar ideas, the countdown can officially begin come December 1st.

Three weeks to go…

Living room with Christmas tree and wreath above log-burning fire.

(Image credit: Future/Mary Wadsworth)

If you're opting for a real tree, now's the time to pick one up. Keep it in water somewhere fairly cool in your home (a garage usually works well) to allow needles to drop before you move it where you want it.

While the last dates for posting cards within the UK is still a while off, it’s still time to get posting Christmas cards and presents. For a start, this means you can guarantee they’ll arrive on time, but also, who doesn't love finding new Christmas card ideas for decorating their home in the run up to advent?

One of the most exciting bits (in our home-obsessed opinion) of the Christmas countdown is here - getting the house decorated. From the foliage decorating bannister, mini trees in kids rooms and Christmas mantelpiece ideas running around our minds, there are options to suit every style.

Collect foliage to make your very own festive wreath. Alternatively, take one thing off your plate by buying one of the best Christmas wreaths of the year. Either at, you’re sure to have a show-stopping front door that’ll impress even St Nick himself.

This is a great point to finalise your shopping list for Christmas dinner. Make sure you’ve got everything you can buy in advance, added to your online delivery or have a set list of what you can pick up and where nearer the big day. Also use this time to order or buy any alcohol for Christmas.

Two weeks to go…

Bedroom with christmas bedding and stocking.

(Image credit: Future/Dan Duchars)

With only a fortnight before Christmas, it’s absolutely the moment to check that list twice. Double check all your cookware and dishes, making sure you've got enough of everything and the right sizes - the last thing you need is to find out on Christmas Eve that the turkey is too big for your baking trays.

While sorting out the kitchen, stock up on household essentials too. Think bin bags, £5.99 for 40, Amazon for collecting up wrapping paper, spare batteries for fairy lights or new toys, and any over-the-counter medication that you might need (it never hurts to have some Berocca and paracetamol on hand for Boxing Day).

Be prepared for visiting family members and get the guest bedroom sorted. Swap bed linen for the best Christmas bedding sets, layer up cosy throws and blankets and add some seasonal decorations like fairy lights and a stocking. 

One week to go…

Kitchen with Christmas baking on surface with gingerbread men.

(Image credit: John Lewis)

T-7 days! This is your last chance for posting within the UK. Royal Mail advises Monday 19th December as the last day for posting second class in time for Christmas. First class, you have a little more leeway, until Wednesday 21st.

Make some tasty treats. Get the kids involved and spend an afternoon baking and decorating Christmas biscuits and gingerbread. This simple act will get you well and truly in the seasonal spirit and make great gifts for friends and neighbours, plus the delicious smells will fill your home with the scent of Christmas. 

Practise how to fold napkins, to give your Christmas table a professional look.

It may not sound like the most fun task, but it’s time to give the house a good old clean. The fridge should also be cleared and cleaned so you can get all the festive food arranged and ordered as it comes in. Make sure you include your wardrobe in this, too, so you don’t have any outfit panics over the next week.

Three days to go...

Christmas cocktails on a gold tray.

(Image credit: Future)

Go food shopping for your final bits and pieces. Pick up your turkey and all the vegetables. Go armed with a list so you remember everything you need. Check Christmas supermarket opening times, some are open extra early so you can shop in peace!

If you’ve ordered a frozen turkey, you need around one day defrosting in the fridge for every 4lbs. For fresh birds, your butcher will typically have you pick it up with 2 or 3 days to go.

Invite the neighbours over for an early Christmas party! Hold a festive drinks soiree and get all the neighbours over to share in the merriment. It's a great excuse to indulge in your favourite seasonal cocktails, catch up on who's renovating what and check in with older members of your street that might find this time of the year particularly lonely.

If you’re the host, you might find that you miss some of the Christmas specials that you wanted to catch. Most TV satellite boxes allow you to record about a week in advance, so grab the TV guide and get taping. Whether you’re an Articulate or Jenga family, use this time to also dig out family favourite board games to pre-arrange screen breaks.

Christmas Eve...

Christmas tablescape in a kitchen

(Image credit: Future)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and we were oh-so-organised!

On December 24th, set the table in advance of the meal the next day and look to creating beautiful Christmas table decoration ideas.

With all the madness that the run-up to Christmas can bring, take some time out to relax with your nearest and dearest and remember what this time is all about. Make up some popcorn, some indulgent hot chocolates (perhaps with a drop of Baileys for the adults?), like the fire and snuggle up under a soft blanket and binge-watch those feel-good Christmas movies your family love. 

If you need a few minutes of peace to tie up any loose ends, or you simply want the kids to simmer down, look out for Christmas Eve box ideas. This modern tradition is a miracle worker in terms of keeping the little ones occupied.

And most importantly, don't forget to leave a treat for Father Christmas! 

Christmas Day...

Christmas living room with log-burning fire and christmas tree.

(Image credit: Future)

First things first, make sure the Christmas tunes are blasting, pop the bubbles and give your loved ones a huge hug! Next, charge up devices you're likely to use throughout the day, find batteries for any toys that might need them, and get a bin bag ready for wrapping. And of course... chill the drinks and open the treats for when guests arrive. 

Get those sleigh bells jingling, because you’ve made it! Since you were sorted well in advance using our Christmas countdown, your day should run like clockwork.

Note - we take no responsibility for any arguments between the kids or arguing about the washing up....

Boxing Day...

Living room with mid-century cabinet and happy new year banner on wall.

(Image credit: Future)

And you thought it was all over! Well, yes but you can now use this time to start shopping the New Year sales and get ready for any NYE parties.

Our favourite way to use this time, however, is to find ways to brighten up your home after the Christmas decorations come down, so come early January your house looks as beautiful and warm as ever.

Holly Walsh
Content Editor

Holly Walsh has been Content Editor at Ideal Home since 2021, but joined the brand back in 2015. With a background of studies in Interior Design, her career in interior journalism was a no-brainer and her passion for decorating homes is still as strong as it ever was. While Holly has written for most of the home titles at Future, including Livingetc, Country Homes & Interiors, Homes and Gardens and Style at Home, Ideal Home has always been her ideal home, and she can be found sharing her expertise and advice across both the printed magazine and the website too.

With contributions from