For most of us, Christmas is a mix of the two, hopefully leaning more towards peace and goodwill than stubbed mistletoe and whine.
What can’t be denied is that the festivities will run a lot more smoothly if you plan ahead and take a few steps to nip potential flashpoints in the bud. So here’s a few quick hints to keep you in good spirits over the next couple of weeks…
Don’t miss the post!
If you’ve presents or cards to send through the post bear in mind the last posting for 2nd Class delivery is Thursday December 18, for 1st Class it’s Saturday December 20, and for Special Delivery it’s Tuesday December 23rd.
Get your house ready for winter
Weather can play havoc with your house and home at this time of year, and while there’s no good time for a boiler breakdown, Christmas Day has got to be one of the worst. So get your boiler breakdown cover sorted and then check out this short video on how to give your house a winter once over…
Timetable the telly
If everyone is going to be clamouring for the same TV set to watch their favourite movie or boxset or plug in their new console, the living room can quickly become a battlefield – so check the listings and draw up a rota to make sure everyone has their fair share of the telly.
Create a survival pack for your car
If you’re going to be slogging cross-country to visit friends or relatives, make sure you’re prepared for the worst – that’s a breakdown or a snowdrift, not Christmas hits on loop the entire journey.
Pack a car survival kit, including jump leads, ice scrapers, torches, first-aid kits, blankets, warm clothes, small shovel, in-car mobile phone charger (or spare, fully-charged phone), drinking water and non-perishable foods - and make sure you’ve got breakdown cover in place.
Even if you’re only making short trips, fill up with fuel in case your local forecourt shuts over the holidays, and keep up to date with the local and national travel news – if there are any severe weather warnings on your journey it may be best to take a detour or put the journey off completely.
Our friends at Green Flag have some great tips on making sure your car is ready for winter driving conditions in this video…
Getting a turkey that doesn’t fit your oven, or not defrosting it in time, makes for a one-way ticket to Christmas dinner disaster. So make sure you don’t go too large with the turkey and, if necessary, defrost it a day early and keep it in slightly salted water to preserve it and keep it moist.
And don’t forget to take the giblets out!
Chores and snores
From shopping to cooking to washing up generally keeping the house tidy, there’s lots to do this time of year, so make sure everyone in the family pulls their weight. No-one should be asleep in their armchair if someone else doing hard labour in the kitchen.
Switch energy tariff
Between keeping the house warm and cooking the Christmas dinner your energy usage will soar over the festive season. So switch to a cheaper gas and electricity tariff now to start making savings as soon as possible.
Watch what you’re feeding the pets
A survey from pet food company Forthglade found half (56%) of UK dog owners say they’ll feed their pets human food over Christmas as their pet is part of the family.
Be warned though: stuffing, turkey and gravy can lead to intestinal problems in dogs and more than one-in-ten (15%) dog owners have taken their pet to the vet after it ate Christmas food. And chocolate is a big no-no – they love it, but you’ll regret it.
So play it safe and stick to the pet treats.
Lock up when you go out
Even if you’re just nipping next door, make sure you lock all your doors and windows and don’t leave an open house for any opportunist thieves.
Leaving your house unlocked will invalidate any contents cover you have meaning you won’t even be able to claim back for any stolen items.
Speaking of which…
Add expensive items to contents cover
At Christmastime your house is likely to be full of more goodies and valuables than at any other time of the year – most of which will be sitting under the tree, ripe for picking by thieves – so make sure the extra items are covered by your contents insurance in case the worst should actually happen.
Before you rush out and add to your contents insurance make sure you’re not already covered under the terms of your existing cover – in a seasonal act of goodwill some insurers will automatically increase your cover to accommodate any festive extras you have in your home.
Make sure you stock up with loads of batteries of different strengths and sizes so no-one blows a fuse when their newly-unwrapped stuff won’t work.
Don’t drink and drive (including the morning after)
We all know the dangers driving home from a boozy night out, but did you know 20% of all drink-drive accidents occur the morning after, as do 17% of prosecutions – so check out this video and make sure you leave the car at home after a night out.
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