Christmas. It's completely predictable because it comes at the same time every year; and yet every year, people are caught out. Either you can't get the year's hottest toy gift, the supermarket has sold out of prawns on Christmas eve, you haven't found time between your twelve festive get-togethers to mow the lawn, or four hours before Christmas lunch you can't find the family heirloom tablecloth.
To save everybody's sanity this festive season and up the enjoyment factor, there are a few things you can start doing well ahead of time to ensure that you've got your home and garden in great nick and you can enjoy a much less stressful festive season.
Four weeks ahead...
Mid to late-November is a great time for a big gardening blitz, getting some bigger tasks out of the way before the weather gets hotter and the silly season really starts. It might seem a little early to be preparing for a Christmas 'do, but starting now will enable you to spread out your tasks - meaning you're not so rushed in the last few days leading up to your event. Weed your garden beds and your lawn by hand (Need help identifying weeds? Check out this article), then water and feed to get new growth moving quickly. Pruning now is also a good idea, so that your plants' energy is diverted to creating new flowers by the time your event rolls around. If your garden is looking a little gappy, summer-flowering annuals will provide a near-immediate burst of colour and foliage to fill those spaces.
It's still spring, so if you're living in clutter, now's your chance for a spring clean. Clear out your home and garage and dispose of anything you no longer need thoughtfully, either by donating to charity or by taking it to your local waste collection facility. Once you've done this, your home will feel far more spacious and ready to host.
Now's also the perfect time to start getting your outdoor Christmas decorations ready. Untangle that string of Christmas lights and check that they're all working, and pull the Santa sleigh out of the crawl space, ready to help add atmosphere and a touch of magic to your street.
Three weeks ahead...
Once you've got the big gardening tasks out of the way, the next step is to tackle any niggling maintenance tasks that need undertaking. Crack out the high-pressure cleaner and give your paved areas a once-over - you'd be amazed at what a difference it can make almost immediately. If your deck could do with re-staining or oiling, now is also a good time - if not, a good scrub will do wonders to bring your decking to life. Pay attention also to often-forgotten areas like fences, awnings and verandas in readiness for your upcoming festivities.
Not such a fan of doing those maintenance tasks yourself? We can help with that. Flower Power has a range of preferred service providers in your local area who will happily help you get your yard in tip-top shape. Check out our services page here for an idea of what we can do, then contact us for a quote on your chosen service.
Additionally, now is a fantastic time to place orders for things like hams, chickens, turkeys and prawns for your Christmas feast. By ordering early you can ensure that your preferred provider has exactly what you need put aside for you - and all you need to do closer to Christmas is pop in to collect it.
Two weeks ahead...
The twelve days of Christmas are about to start, so pop in to Flower Power and pick up your freshly-cut Christmas tree, then take it home and get down to decorating. Nothing makes a home feel more like Christmas than the fresh smell of a real tree, and by purchasing two weeks out, you can ensure it still looks its best when you're entertaining. Don't forget, Flower Power also stocks a gorgeous range of Christmas decorations, from baubles to garlands and everything in between. This year's theme is a refined palette inspired by Australian botanics - think soft, salty blues, dusty pinks, sage greens and washed raw timbers.
Planning on giving gifts to your event's attendees? Make an effort to have everything organised (that includes wrapping!) two weeks in advance. This gives you plenty of time to organise a plan B if there's something on the gift list that you just can't get. Of course, gifts involving fresh food or flowers might be best left for closer to go-time. Keep your gift wrapping coordinated with your decorating theme so it looks cohesive - go all-out with colour, or keep it simple with brown paper and twine.
One week ahead...
Get out the mower - it's time to give the lawn a haircut. Once you've mowed (and not too short, either; see here for an indication of how long to leave your grass!), fertilise with a liquid formula high in nitrogen and iron to encourage greener growth.
If you've got guests coming to stay in your spare bedroom, now is a great time to refresh it. Start by moving any clutter out to the garage, then change your linens and pop a new candle or diffuser on the bedside table to give it a homey feel. Flower Power carries an expansive home fragrance range year-round, so you can always find the perfect item to suit your home. You could even add a potted Poinsettia for that extra festive touch!
Three days ahead...
If the furniture you're using is already in place, you can begin dressing it to suit with with napery and linen items including tablecloths, table runners, chair covers, placemats and serviettes that have been freshly laundered and pressed. By getting this task out of the way a couple of days in advance, you'll have more time on event day to deal with fresh items like food and flowers. Now is also a great time to change the cushions or cushion covers on your outdoor furniture, and begin adding any additional decorative touches. Additionally, make sure the majority of your grocery shopping is done, so that you can avoid the last-day rush at the supermarket. Top tip - place an online order if you can, and let the supermarket do the hard work for you.
Two days ahead...
If there's food on your menu that you can start preparing now, do so. Things like marinades, glazes, stuffings and condiments can easily be prepared in advance and refrigerated in airtight containers, depending on the shelf life of their ingredients.
Need a convenient last-minute gift for your favourite garden lover? A Flower Power gift card allows them to pick their own green and gorgeous gift from any of our 10 garden centres - just load it with a dollar value of your choice between $20 and $999. Buy one (or several!) here. You can even have a digital gift card sent straight to your recipient's email address. How's that for convenience?
The day before...
You're on the home stretch with most major tasks out of the way, so this is where the last-minute tidying comes into play, both around the house and garden. Tools and garden implements go back in the shed, bikes and outdoor toys are stored in the garage, indoor toys jump back in the toybox, books go back on bookshelves and laundry is folded and returned to its home. Vacuum your carpets, sweep floorboards or mop tiled areas. If you have flowering plants, check for any spent flowers and deadhead them, and give your entire garden a nice, deep watering to freshen it up for the next day. Sweep any paved areas free of dirt and debris, and get out the blower one last time to get rid of any leaves that may have fallen.
If you're baking or cooking vegetables for your Christmas feast, many varieties including zucchini, carrot, capsicum and onion can actually be peeled and chopped the night before and stored in the fridge, either covered with damp paper towel or in a bowl of cold water. If you're making a potato salad or baked potatoes, you can peel and parboil your potatoes the night before, too, to speed up the process on the day.
The day of...
If Santa Claus has paid a midnight visit to your home just before your event, chances are you may have a bit of early morning excitement, and perhaps mess! Have a bin or a large plastic bag on hand to collect discarded gift wrapping or packaging for quick and easy disposal - this will help keep your living area as tidy as possible until the Christmas morning hype has died down a little.
If you're planning on using cut flowers from your garden for table arrangements or decorations, pick them the morning of your event - this way they'll look super fresh. Pop them in vases or buckets of water until you're ready to arrange them, and keep them out of direct sunlight or draughty areas to prolong their life.
Once your flower arrangements are done, pop on some Christmas tunes and get to work in the kitchen. All you should now have left to do is the very last of your cooking!
On behalf of all at Flower Power, merry Christmas! We hope that you have a safe, happy and prosperous festive season, and that you get to spend plenty of time making memories with loved ones.