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The Ultimate Christmas Cheat Sheet 2016

15 November 2016 christmas

The Ultimate Christmas Cheat Sheet 2016

It’s the most wonderful time of year, but the problem is in and amongst all that dinging, donging, and decorating, the calendar has a habit of quickly counting down the days you have left to do the really important things. Without having a Christmas cheat sheet, it can be difficult to organise the following:

  • Buying food
  • Buying presents
  • Buying and sending cards
  • Preparing and decorating the house

It’s a time for giving, after all, and everybody knows it. That means it’s vital to plan out when you need to do what, if you want to tick everything off the Christmas cheat sheet list. After all, we’re busy enough on an average Monday in June, let alone when all the office parties and family dos start kicking in. Which they inevitably will in the next few weeks. So, whilst it may seem early for this sort of thing one day you’ll thank us for the following Christmas 2016 cheat sheet, or as everyone here at Hallmark Hotels has come to affectionately term it; every important thing to remember about this year’s festivities, starting with the most urgent.

Christmas Cheat SheetChristmas cake and pudding - from mid-September, or 20th November

20th November 2016 is ‘stir-up Sunday’. This tradition dates back to the Victorian times when families would make the Christmas pudding exactly five weeks before Christmas Day. The pudding contains 13 ingredients, one for Jesus and each disciple, and should be stirred from East to West, a reference to the three Wise Men in The Nativity. People differ though. For example, according to Nigella Lawson a rough guide on when to make Christmas cake and pudding looks like this:

  • Rich, fruity varieties are achieved by baking three months ahead of Christmas, and storing in a cool, dry place.
  • Half the country, or thereabouts, advocates preparing 6 weeks before the big day, the other half more like three.
  • You must feed them mixture brandy (whisky, or bourbon) to keep moist once baked- if storing for a long time do this every 4 weeks.

Christmas Cheat SheetBuying a tree - from 25th November

The argument wages on about when the best time to buy your tree is, so don’t even start on putting it up. For some, Advent governs this, meaning the tree goes up on the First Sunday (27th November this year). But that means many trees will be close to bare by the time Christmas actually arrives, so we would recommend waiting until December at least, with Sunday 11th looking particularly good for the actual decorating and unveiling.

Online shopping - from 15th December

Christmas cheat sheet15th December? Really? It sounds ridiculously early in a world where you can order pizza through a tattoo (seriously) and be eating in 30 minutes. Hear us out, though. Do not, under any circumstances, leave your online shopping to the last few days. Our Christmas cheat sheet explains why:

  • You don’t know how much of a product retailers have in stock, so in any instance, it’s always best to start buying gifts as soon as possible.
  • Allow time for returns and redeliveries; you might get something and realise it isn’t what you thought you were ordering- perhaps the colour is slightly but vitally different. Posting back and then waiting for another parcel can take several days.

If you do need to wait for the last minute, though, usually orders on 23rd December can make it for Christmas Eve in cases where you have the option to pay an additional delivery fee, but probably better we all say 20th December should be the last day you consider ordering gifts online, thus hopefully avoiding blind panic. And that leaves no time for returns.

Christmas dinner ingredients - 22nd December

How long is a piece of string? Trying to predict when each individual supermarket or farm shop is going to run out of the most important ingredients in the festivities is impossible, but we did discover something in the ensuing wild goose chase for our Christmas cheat sheet. Someone at The Telegraph newspaper by the name of Dan Hyde wrote an article in 2014 about how experts had analysed data from every major supermarket, and the best time to get a delivery was between 6.30AM and 7.30AM on the morning of 23rd December. Deliveries in those hours were the fullest, fattest, and quickest of any date during the holiday season, so that’s probably something to consider. Most services do have availability for deliveries right up until the evening of Christmas Eve.


Christmas Cheat SheetAbsolutely vital if you want the full package for Christmas, we recommend making sure you have at least a few of the following films in our Christmas cheat sheet to hand:

Gremlins (15)

An 80s comedy horror classic wherein a teenage boy receives a cute but mysterious gift for Christmas, unleashing madcap creatures on his snowy hometown.

Scrooged (PG)

A modern take on A Christmas Carol, Scrooged sees the legendary Bill Murray playing a cynical and money-hungry TV exec who has a few surprises coming on Christmas Eve.

Elf (PG)

One of the most heartwarming films on our list involves Will Farrell wearing an adult elf outfit and hitting the Big Apple in search of his father, who is not, as it turns out, Santa Claus. Guaranteed to make you smile.

It’s A Wonderful Life (PG)

Not just one of the finest festive feasts for the eyes, It’s A Wonderful Life is one of the best movies ever made of any kind. Times are tough for James Stewart and his family, almost too tough, but in the end goodwill and compassion come through.

Miracle On 34th Street

There are two famous versions of this, one from 1994, the other 1947, and both are worth watching. Movie buffs will likely argue the original version is the best, but whichever you watch this tale of the little girl who is the only person in New York that believes an old man is Santa Claus, and the court case to try and prove it, is utterly spellbinding.

Christmas Cheat SheetChristmas dinner

The turkey

  • 2 hours per kg defrosting time at room temperature
  • Leave to stand for 2 hours at room temperature before cooking (once defrosted)
  • Cook stuffing separately
  • Season breast with salt and pepper
  • Allow 2 hours cooking time per 4KG
  • 0.75kg average portion of turkey per dinner guest
  • 4kg bird should feed family of two adults, two children, and two grandparents

Roast potatoes

  • Pre-heat oven to maximum temperature
  • Cut King Edward spuds into thick wedges
  • Boil wedges until a fork is beginning to slip into potatoes without too much pressure
  • Add warm goose fat to baking tray, or butter, or olive oil
  • Add potatoes to baking tray and shake to fluff the outside
  • Add three whole cloves of garlic, fresh rosemary, rock salt
  • Close oven door
  • Turn potatoes every 25 minutes until golden brown and crisp on the outside


  • Use chantenay carrots only
  • Place in baking tray or dish, adding two clementines halved (juices squeezed onto carrots), cloves, olive oil, two cloves of garlic (whole) and black pepper
  • Add to the oven alongside roast potatoes for 30 minutes, or until crisp on the outside and soft on the inside

Postal dates - from 3rd December

  • Saturday 3rd December - Africa / Middle East
  • Wednesday 7th December - Cyprus / Asia / Far East (Including Japan) / Eastern Europe
  • Thursday 8th December - Caribbean/ Central / South America
  • Saturday 10th December - Greece / Australia / New Zealand
  • Wednesday 14th December - Czech Republic / Finland / Sweden / USA
  • Friday 16th December - Austria / Denmark / Iceland / Netherlands / Norway / Portugal / Slovakia / Spain / Switzerland
  • Saturday 17th December - Belgium / France / Ireland / Luxembourg
  • Tuesday 20th December - UK 2nd Class / 2nd Class Signed For
  • Wednesday 21st December - UK 1st Class / 1st Class Signed For
  • Thursday 22nd December - Special Delivery Guaranteed
  • Friday 23rd December - Special Delivery Saturday Guaranteed

The actual dates of Christmas (just in case you really need help)

  • First Sunday of advent - Sunday 27th November
  • Christmas Eve - Saturday 24th December
  • Christmas Day - Sunday 25th December
  • Boxing Day (Bank Holiday)- Monday 26th December
  • New Year’s Eve - Saturday 31st December
  • New Year’s Day - Sunday 1st January 2017
  • Bank Holiday - Monday 2nd January 2017

Staying calm

It might be Uncle So and So at it again with his rants and gin, or perhaps the kids are running amok. Despite our best intentions, sometimes Christmas just doesn’t stick to the plan, but don’t worry- we’ve all been there. Hence the amount of articles online about surviving what can, inadvertently, be a stressful time of year.

Here are a few of the best:

Last minute ideas

Christmas Cheat SheetYou’re kidding, right? After everything we’ve just been through in our Christmas cheat sheet you’re still here, and, worse still, with people to buy for but no clue as to what you’re going to buy them? OK, fine, no problems. We’re not angry, just disappointed. But, even though this is your own fault, here are a couple of great last minute gift idea articles we have come across whilst compiling this Christmas cheat sheet. YOU’RE WELCOME! Last Minute Christmas Gifts For Her Last Minute Christmas Gifts For Him Last Minute Christmas Gifts Last Minute DIY Christmas Gifts   

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