With Melinda

Single mum lifestyle blogger

Romance author


Do you feel prepared for Christmas? The start of November means there are now only eight weeks to go. The festive season has truly started and all around us, there is a mixture of excitement and panic. If you have read my September and October posts then congratulations. You are well on track with your preparations for an organised and relaxed Christmas. However, if you have your copy of the Family Christmas Planner, then you are truly a Christmas goddess! Now all that is left is to learn how to prepare for Christmas in November.

This post in number three of four and gives you a breakdown of everything that has to be prepared for a stress-free and enjoyable family Christmas. If you are reading this feeling frazzled and worried, here is a quick recap of the steps already achieved in September and October’s posts.

Tips on planning Christmas in September and October

  • Check family organiser for December commitments.
  • Create family WhatsApp group. Decide on who can host, numbers attending, dates free and allergies.
  • Budget – with you as host, it’s time to break down the budget. All this information is in the Family Christmas Planner. Categories need to be broken down so you can see the total and decide on amounts.
  • Idea gift list – run riot with your imagination and write in your planner what you would love to buy family and friends. This can be trimmed if necessary later. If it’s in your Family Christmas planner, even if you don’t manage to buy it this year, you will see the thought next year.
  • Cards and invitations – your creativity can come out here, to produce beautiful personal stationary.
  • Festive events – Christmas events tend to get booked up early so if you did not do so as suggested in the September post, I would recommend you get on it now and possibly widen your search in case events are full.
  • Supermarket slot – check back on October’s post for dates when slots are open.
  • Deep clean – that hated chore. Doing this as suggested in October means it is relaxed, there is plenty of time to go room by room and get the family involved.

So there is a quick recap of some of the activities I suggested for September and October. If you have not done them, I would make sure you start now and learn how to prepare for Christmas in November. What with work and childcare etc, you do not want to begin your festive period feeling stressed. Purchase your Family Christmas Planner here and you will never feel disorganised around this time of year again.

Family Christmas planner

For those of you who do not have a copy of the Family Christmas Planner, here is a quick recap. This is your one-stop organised planner for your family Christmas. The first year of having it, you fill out all the details then for years after, your Christmas starts off with most of the information complete. With an address book complete with dates visitors arrived and left, allergies and other essential information. A budget planner so you don’t overspend. A guide how to deep clean, decorate and what tree to buy.

Not forgetting the children, a template for them to write to Father Christmas and dates for you to post this precious letter and other Christmas cards and post. How and when to bake the Christmas cake, when to book our supermarket slots, festive arts, and crafts and so, so much more. With a timeline for each event, you will be stress free and able to create memories with your family.

Timeline of Christmas cake

November is the month we need to don the kitchen apron. Yes, you’ve guessed it, we’re now going to make the Christmas cake. This is a controversial subject for many, myself included. In the past, I have burnt one cake and undercooked another. With the amount and cost of ingredients involved and the time spent endlessly feeding it, this is one cake we want to be perfect. It is also one item off the list when we learn how to prepare for Christmas in November.

For what I consider one of the best recipes by one of the best bakers, turn to your Family Christmas Planner. There you will find a recipe and baking instructions. After cooking and eating it, make notes in your planner for next year. It’s good to be prepared!

Origin of the Christmas cake

The Christmas cake originated in England in the 16th century but not as we know it. It started as a plum porridge that was part of the meal eaten after religious fasting. Flour and eggs were later added and it became popular on ‘Twelfth night’ and ‘Easter’. At Christmas time, dried fruit and spices also went into the cake and it became more recognisable as the Christmas cake we know and love today.

In the Victorian era, this cake evolved some more. Celebrating Christmas became more popular and the Christmas cake a symbol. Queen Victoria had banned Twelfth night celebrations as she believed they would get out of control so the cake instead became a firm part of Christmas day. It was at this time that it was also covered in marzipan and icing.

How far in advance can I make a cake?

The Christmas cake is one of the Christmas food items that can and should be prepared in advance. This not only helps with your stress levels but it also gives the cake a richness and depth of flavour. I would suggest looking at your timeline and seeing where you can slot it in but no later than the beginning of November. Mark it in your Family Christmas Planner. Add the ingredients to your list of ‘buy in advance’ Christmas foods and you will be well on your way to a great Christmas.

Healthy Christmas cake recipe

Although the traditional Christmas cake tastes delicious, it is still a cake and not particularly good for you. But don’t despair, there are alternatives to try. As dried fruit is naturally sweet, we do not need to add sugar or any other sweetener. And for those who prefer to avoid gluten, you have other choices. Almond flour is delicious and means that those who are gluten intolerant can join in with this tradition. Try this ‘gluten free Christmas cake recipe’. Maybe your family will decide they like it just as much and it will become a staple at this time of year.

Best shop bought fruit cake

If this year you have decided not to make your own cake, that is absolutely fine too. While some bakers are hovering near the oven praying their creation is not burning you can rest assured that someone else is doing the hard work for you. If that was not enough, each year Good Housekeeping magazine form a panel for the enviable job of tasting cake. In 2022, they were presented with 16 Christmas cakes to rank. The winner? It was Sainsbury’s with their Taste the Difference Christmas cake. The tasters were looking for moistness, taste and texture and the cake got an impressive 82/100. Who will the winner be this year?

Christmas gift shopping (Black Friday)

Hopefully, you already have a list of potential gifts in your planner and have been trawling charity shops. This should mean you are ahead of where you were last year and that your budget has not taken a last-minute shopping frenzy dent. Now it is time to re-examine that list and purchase the remaining gifts. Being ahead with gift purchases is one of the best ways to prepare for Christmas in November.

The beauty about buying Christmas gifts in November is that it is the month of Black Friday. Black Friday originated in America, as the first day after Thanksgiving and the first day of the Christmas season. It has since spread to England and is widely anticipated. If you are thinking of buying an expensive present, it is best to get a couple of prices, then wait until Black Friday and compare. You will most likely make a good saving.

Deals are announced in advance and some will last for a few days. The Telegraph paper has put together a comparison between Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime Day to help you decide which day it may be better to shop on.

When is Black Friday 23?

Black Friday is always the last Friday in November so in 2023, it will be 24th November. Exactly one month until Christmas Eve, which brings even more excitement to it. The big brands have started advertising and sending out teasers but don’t go mad shopping. If you use your planner, your family and friends will end up with fantastic presents and you will still have money left in your budget to enjoy the rest of Christmas.

Black Friday deals 23

Having a huge sale in November helps considerably with knowing how to prepare for Christmas in November. Which? magazine is great for Black Friday comparisons and tech radar is perfect for more focused deals. Check out these links and remember to go back to them as they are updated with deals.

Christmas messages for family and friends

If you have been following the Family Christmas Planner timeline, you will have made or purchased your Christmas cards already. Take them out and consult the address book you have in your planner. You could get your children to help this, family and friends always like to see children writing in a card or letter.

If you are stuck for a message, consult Good Housekeeping’s list. With this variety, you will never write the same thing twice. Children can write a line about something positive in their year or something they are looking forward to at Christmas. And with that, your card is personalised and the recipient will be more than pleased.

I would suggest sending any cards in late November. If there is a present to go with it, hold off until you have both to send at once. But make sure you consult your Family Christmas planner for the last postage dates across both England and the world. The last thing you want is to have made all these thoughtful cards and presents and not have them arrive on time.

Roundup guide of how to plan for Christmas in November

So, that is it for November. The Christmas cake has been made and is in the process of being fed copious amounts of alcohol. Gifts have been bought, with the advantage of Black Friday deals and Christmas cards written and posted. What a busy month. And now, we are at the cusp of advent. The countdown to Christmas begins.

Countless friends are panicking, not knowing what their plans are, overspending and becoming frazzled. You, on the other hand, are organised, stress-free and 3/4 of the way through your planned festive period. Your September and October chores are complete and you know how to prepare for Christmas in November. Your family Christmas planner is becoming full and your next Christmas is already looking organised. Time to sit back, and eagerly await the December post, the last of the four Christmas posts.

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Single with child