Secrets for a Stress-Free Festive Season

01/11/2011 22:16 GMT | Updated 01/01/2012 10:12 GMT

It's like clockwork at this time of year, the leaves turn, the air starts to chill - and with the first signs of red and green I start to breakout in a cold sweat.

Having just been made dizzy by how much was spent on our summer holidays and finding no time to sleep with the crunch of the children's autumn activities, the last thing I can stomach is Christmas creeping into my consciousness.

But alas the season of giving is upon us and given my job working with I do actually have some tricks up my sleeve and shouldn't really complain. So I'll share a few secrets to help you make it through the festive period...

First, get organised! Not "kinda organised", not "thinking of getting organised", not "do later organised". Truly and completely make the list and check it twice. Who needs a gift, how much do you want to spend, how do they spend their free time. Put it on paper, or even better into a Google document that you can share with your significant other or anyone that feels that have a say in who gets what.

Be sure to ask loved ones what they want! I know it's the thought and all, but really, you might be surprised how relieved most people are to be asked. As the recipient you can also set up a registry for yourself - it's not just for weddings, you know! It may be overkill but it could certainly cut down on the number of scarves you receive.

Then set up a sales alert. We have them, so do a number of other websites. And then, poof, as if by magic, you get an email every time X, Y or Z brand goes on sale. There are so many sales these days, the 'start of the season sale', the 'mid-season sale'. Sales alerts can easily save you up to 50% over last year's spend.

Also, use social media to look for perks like free shipping, voucher codes or free gift wrapping. Even at a cost, if you can save a bit of money on the gift - gift-wrapping can be a saviour. How many times I've said, "That's ridiculous, I can wrap the gifts myself" and then found myself scrambling on Christmas Eve tapping up packages with the panache of a pre-schooler. The added bonus is that a beautifully wrapped present makes even stocking fillers seem exciting.

Finally, enjoy the bustle of the shops and the good cheer of High Street shopping on your own time. When you really need to get the job done do it online, or even on your mobile phone. The High Street is so much better enjoyed on a leisurely weekend when there isn't a deadline and the only jostling you are doing is to grab the bottle of cabernet not cologne.