Timetable for the perfect Christmas

Does Christmas in your home run like a well-choreographed performance, or is getting your family through the festivities like herding reindeer on ice?

If you love leaving it all to the last minute and don't mind negotiating clashing expectations on the hoof, kick back and relax. But if you're as planning-focussed as our St Mary's team, here's the perfect Christmas plan:

Christmas Eve

  • Get out your notepad, turn the page and make your big list. Times on the left, actions and responsibilities on the right. You'll go to bed with lots ticked off and won't be woken at 6am by little ones demanding their unwrapped presents.
  • Don't forget to diary in some down-time. Look for little moments when you can catch your breath. Even a last minute trip to the shops can give you a chance for fresh air.
  • In the kitchen, get cold drinks to the fridge, and check your pots and pans. Check the freezer and plan your defrosting.
  • Unless there's a special gathering, eat simply and don't drink too much. You'll really appreciate it tomorrow. Deepen your appetite and savour the last day of Advent and put off the overindulgence for one more day.
  • Keep the children active and busy. At 4pm, bring little ones to our Christmas Crib Service, all dressed up as angels, shepherds or kings.
  • If the house is full of guests, don't be shy in asking them to help. They can hoover, iron and wash-up and some of the best kitchen conversations are after dinner, not during the pressured preparation time.
  • It's getting late and Christmas is almost here. Islington's streets are usually busy but tonight it's so quiet. The bus and tube services begin to stop. At 11pm, Upper Street is starting to still. It's the perfect time to come to our Midnight Holy Communion. You'll be leaving church in the first hour of Christmas Day and the cold walk back home, is a delight if you're wrapped up warm and the best way to get to sleep.
Christmas Day
  • At 9.45, pop the oven on. A lovely light breakfast will keep everyone happy but don't be tempted by the biscuit box or chocolates just yet.
  • Around 10.00, get the turkey in. Check your timings list (you made one yesterday, right?)
  • Get everyone dressed, and walk to church for our 10.30 Christmas Family Communion. Bring along a favourite present if you want to show off. It's a short service, with no refreshments afterwards, so at 11.30 the last strains of the final carol will see you on your way home.
  • 11.45 You've got lots of time to peel the vegetables and get things sorted while others lay the table and pour the drinks.
  • 1.30 Tuck in! Even if you don't normally "say grace" why not do so today? After the crackers are pulled and before toasting the cook is a great time to thank God for all his blessings. Happy Christmas!