The Christmas countdown is on! Our six-week festive planner to get ahead

Here's your week by week plan to ensure your Christmas countdown runs smoothly
  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • With the big day coming ever-closer, start prepping now to ensure the calmest Christmas countdown ever. 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 (most organised Christmas, that is!).

    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.

    Christmas countdown: six-week festive planner

    At this stage, you’re likely to have arranged who’ll be coming over to yours for the day itself. While we of course hope things will be back to ‘normal’ this year, make sure to have some back-up plans in hand in case anything changes. Plan who’ll be setting up Zoom get togethers in case they’re needed.

    The next thing you should have in hand, on your Christmas checklist, is sorting the ever-fun budget. Then, it’s time for the even more fun stuff – like finding the coolest Christmas 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 before Christmas…

    Christmas tree with white and metallic decorations

    Image credit: Future PLC

    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?

    For the birds, it’s time to get ordering. Both local butchers and supermarkets will be able to sort this for you. Think about your mains sides, too, because there are still plenty of bits and pieces you can pick up in advance, like crackers for your cheese, or chocolates for the sideboard.

    If you might have trouble getting out and about nearer the day itself, it’s also worth looking at getting supermarket delivery slots booked in, too. Remember that most of the bigger retailers will allow you to alter produce in your baskets until near the actual date of delivery, so it’s more about the slot than having everything set in stone.

    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 before…

    Indoor Christmas lights on walls and staircase

    Image credit: Future PLC

    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 21st 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 a Black Friday mixer deal 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.

    It’s also time to find the best Christmas lights for your theme this year. Unravel those old fairy lights and tree decorations to see if anything needs replacing, and get ordering new ones as required. Similarly, assess your wrapping paper and Christmas card stash and make sure you order more if you’re running low or are looking for new designs.

    Four weeks before…

    Wrapped Christmas presents piled on chair

    Image credit: Future PLC

    It may seem early, but once the bulk of your gifts are in your possession, get wrapping! Setting aside a little time every day, or couple of days, to gift wrapping will mean you get to say goodbye to hurried, hushed nights manically sellotaping up presents with mere days to go.

    Look at decorating the exterior of your home at this stage, with the latest outdoor Christmas decor ideas  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.

    Three weeks to go…

    Christmas cards arranged in metal ring with foliage and ribbon

    Image credit: Future PLC

    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…

    Christmas guest room with festive linen and stocking

    Image credit: Future PLC

    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. Think bin bags 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).

    If family or friends are staying over at your home for the holidays, get the spare room spick and span. Get new sheets on the bed, have clean towels folded and ready, and hunt out extra blankets or a dressing gown to keep them cosy.

    One week to go…

    Christmas tree and decorated sideboard

    Image credit: Future PLC

    T-7 days! This is your last chance for posting within the UK. Royal Mail advises Saturday 18th December as the last day for posting second class in time for Christmas. First class, you have a little more leeway, until Tuesday 21st.

    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.

    Check you have enough chairs for everyone to sit around the dinner table, if you’re borrowing anything from friends or family get it now so it’s not a last minute rush.

    Three days before…

    Christmas turkey

    Image credit: Future/ Chris Alack

    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!

    In terms of food, 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.

    Some food can get prepared at this stage – get the stuffing made, and list out a timeline for the day so you know exactly what you’re roasting, at what temperature and when.

    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 dining table decorated with foliage and candles

    Image credit: Future PLC

    ‘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 decide where everyone is sitting.Don’t forget the crackers! You can also start cooking – make sure as much as you can get checked off at this stage is done. This depends on what you’re cooking, but typically you can start peeling veg and defrosting party nibbles. Depending on how you cook your main, you might even be able to start cooking it on Christmas Eve itself.

    lay the dining table a

    Prepare as much food as you can in advance, peel vegetables, make the stuffing and write a cooking timeline so you know when everything needs to be cooked.

    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.

    Christmas Day

    Wrapped Christmas presents under tree

    Image credit: Future PLC

    First thing charge phones, iPads, cameras and other devices you’re likely to use throughout the day. And of course…chill the drinks, ready 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 your partner singing their eyebrows when lighting the Christmas pudding…

    Boxing Day

    Hot chocolate and Christmas cookies in wicker tray

    Image credit: Future PLC

    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.

    Does your family have any traditions that we should be including in our Christmas countdown?

    All the latest from Ideal Home