5 tips for getting ready for Christmas

Written by Mary

Between gift shopping, groceries, having family over, and preparing the table, celebrating Christmas requires great organization. To avoid getting caught out the eve of the big day, we have personalized your own special to-do list for each sign. Merry Christmas and happy preparation to all!

Aries:Pick out your gifts beforehand. No more running around the stores on Christmas Eve and getting run over just to find a gift that might be out of stock anyway... The watchword this year is "planning". Do your Christmas shopping ASAP. And get the real luxury goods in the off season. This is the best way to avoid picking up just any old thing just because you need something right away.

Shop smart. December is about full consumption and promos are out the window. Which means there should still be some good deals to pick up in November. Spend less: it doesn't mean you still can't have fun. This way, you will be a little more level-headed the day of and get to save some money, too. You would have to be crazy to pass this up.

Plan your menu. Whipping up some weak sauce last minute won't go over too well. Others really do want to forgive you for your lack of organization and last-minute recipes, but really, it's no good. Do it simple but do it right, which means preparing ahead of time.

Give gifts that will please whoever receives them. Don't just gift some trinket because you can get away with it or because you don't have the guts to show up empty handed. Plus, it just feels good to give something you know the other person will actually enjoy. This requires that you pay attention to others' interests. Which can take some time. This means that you have to think of more than your own tastes. This is where generosity starts.

Exercise. Liver, duck, rich sauces, fruitcake - it can all get the better of you, except if you keep active, even during the holidays. Cut out the sweets - not the gym!

Taurus:Do a detox: before Christmas, after Christmas, and coming up on New Year's so that you can start the year right - and without imposing some draconian diet on yourself (now is not the time, and you won't manage to do it, anyway). Make up for your holiday excesses by setting yourself straight afterwards. Of course: fruit juice won't ever taste as good as a fat turkey dinner with all the trimmings, but your belt-line will thank you.

Get everyone involved. You have taste. You enjoy having people over. And, you like taking charge. But on Christmas, there are just so many things to do! And, as gifted as you are, you would be wrong not to delegate. It will please your loved ones to help out preparing in the festivities, too. As one.

Spruce up your house. This will be a walk in the park for someone with an eye like yours. Polish up the chandeliers so that they shine their brightest; add your own personal touch to your decorations, and dress up the tree in your own original way... You will have no shortage of ideas for making everything nice and pretty. Have a ball - it's what Christmas is all about.

Accept others' suggestions. You have good taste, that's for sure, but if you have very specific ideas about how the festivities should unfold, what meals should be served, and how the table should be set, consult your family about them. Let the children weave their paper garlands and allow the night to happen differently than it did other years. Afterwards, you will get to rearrange things as you please. The important thing is to get everyone involved.

Leave tradition behind. Turkey, holly, green red - it doesn't get more classic than this. What if you rethought the basics and shook things up? Blow your guests away - and yourself, too. Fantasy is a safe guarantee.

Gemini:Have children around you. Even if you are not yet a parent, have your nephews and nieces over, or, failing that, borrow someone else's children. In company like this, you will experience the height of Christmas' magic. You're not really the type to stay at the table either and will have as much fun as the kids unwrapping gifts, trying them out for the first time, having snowball fights (if there is snow) - or Christmas bulb fights (there are sure to be those). You are just one big child yourself, so have fun: it's what Christmas is for.

Go to others' homes. As much as you can, try to spend the holidays with your parents or siblings. This way, you won't have to handle the Christmastime logistics, the meals, the menu, the rush at the stores... Freed from all these responsibilities, you will only have to worry about partying and having a good time. Of course next year, you will have to return the favor, but next year is far away...

Do the dishes. Of course, it's no fun, but it isn't for anyone. If you are having people over, and especially if you are the one invited, it would only be proper to lend a hand. Think of it as a small gift that you're giving your hosts before the one you bought for them at the store.

Start dinner with dessert, or come up with some other fun idea for bringing a little excitement to the table. An exotic dinner? A themed one? Perhaps a party feast? Anything that isn't part of the usual daily grind: turkey, gravy, salmon, suit and tie, sequined dress. Make this traditional party a real happening event that is sure to not be soon forgotten.

Rein in your expenses. Have fun, of course, but don't bankrupt yourself. Though everything might be made to lead you to excess, try to resist the temptation. Love does not count costs, but love doesn't mean having to tighten your belt half way through the month, either.

Cancer:Bring the family together. Parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins - anyone and everyone close to your heart around one big table. What bliss! You don't often get a chance like this one to gather everyone. Christmas is a family feast. And family is sacred.

Take pictures. The beautiful table you set, the look of wonder in children's eyes, the joy and brotherhood between parents and your loved ones are all moments that you won't soon forget and will forever be etched in your memory. These will be beautiful memories to enjoy later on.

Don't overdo it on the mascara. Or at least have a handkerchief ready, because strong emotions could make you shed a tear or two. It's touching, and moreover, is why you are loved. But, if you can avoid sniffling all night long or having your make-up run, that would be good, too.

Respect tradition. Turkey dinner, 12 Days of Christmas, the tree, the carols - all this is important to make sure that the Christmas tradition continues in your family. Rediscover the emotions that you felt when you were a child. Enjoy this time as a continuation of your past without trying to modify or change your memories.

Plan to have your family over for the night or for several days. First off, it is comforting to not let your loved ones leave on potentially icy roads. And secondly, since you have at last managed to bring everyone together, why not keep them under your roof for an extra day or two? This is a way to prolong the holiday and strengthen your bonds.

Leo:Buy less but buy better: the most savory oysters, vintage champagne, the hardiest trimmings. You are used to doing everything to the extreme, since everything absolutely must be sublime, excellent, unforgettable. If you lack the means to make your ambitions a reality, focus on what will really wow and impress. A little caviar, perhaps. That's all it takes, and you're set!

Delegate to the experts. If you're not a natural-born decorator, find a family member who is talented in this area. If you are not a top chef, call up the caterer. The important thing for you is not to do but to show that you are have something to offer when having guests. The tree isn't the only thing that will be shining bright. Your guests' eyes will be, too, when they marvel at the magnificent decor and refined dishes you serve. Santa Claus has nothing on you...

Head for the sun. Celebrate Christmas on a sandy beach; how chic and original! Telling everyone that you took the family to the sea has a certain attraction and allure, does it not? But, on the other hand, if the best you can do is a cabin in the woods, that will be fine, too. All the most popular spots on the planet will give this celebration a certain brilliance.

Be optimistic. You haven't managed to find room, or food, for everyone or gotten your dream gift quite yet... But it's no big deal. Because, no matter what happens, you will stay positive and come up with solutions for the myriad problems that you will be confronted with. Christmas is a celebration, so don't lose your head. You know what that means: champagne!

Be the host of the party. You can give it your all at a moment's notice. With the charisma that you're exuding, you can be sure that everyone fall in line behind you without a single question. With your good mood, laughter, and relaxation, you know how to put all your guests at ease. Their thankfulness for the night you've given them will be the only gift you need.

Virgo:Forget about your diet. Foie gras, gravy, cake - so many calories and so many additives! Which isn't the best for your waistline but not terrible for your health, either. But is this really the time to think about all that? Is it wise to ruin the party for yourself and your guests by preaching to them as soon as they start scarfing down the appetizers? You have 363 days (starting next week, of course) to get back in shape and stuff yourself with herbal teas and the like. So don't panic!

Buy a real tree. Sure, there will be needles scattered all over the ground that could jam up your vacuum cleaner, but oh well: Christmas comes only once a year, so try to close your eyes to all the disorder (which is 100% natural, by the way). A fake tree might not rot and be a little cleaner, but it lacks a certain Christmas charm.

Don't try to swap. Buying a cheap gift just because you think your cheap brother, for example, won't spend any more than you is downright petty. And pettiness is not attractive. So, without ruining yourself of course, choose to be generous. And you can afford to be generous, can't you?

Stay at the table. If you have guests over, it's so that you can be with them; not to keep disappearing into the kitchen. You don't need to watch the turkey like a hawk. And starting the dishes while everyone is in the living room is absolutely forbidden, too. Too bad if you'll have to do them tomorrow - oh well!

Lower your standards. You want everything to be perfect, and perfect it will be. This doesn't mean that the sauce won't burn, that the wine won't get corked, or that a child won't make your tablecloth all sticky with chocolate. It's annoying, let's admit it, but it is not the end of the world - or the end of your reputation. Especially since all these little setbacks can make for a good, hearty laugh. That's the holidays, right?

Libra:Spruce the place up. Some red, some green, a tree, garlands - way too traditional for you. Without totaling breaking the mold, choose a style that is original to you. With your taste, it is sure to be perfect. What's more, you'll have a blast organizing it all.

Arrange the seating. And stick to it! Don't wait until the last second to decide to put your father-in-law next to your cousin or your great-aunt next to your son-in-law. And letting everyone choose their own place is even worse. For a brief, confused moment, no one will know what to do, so it will be up to you to take control. Yes - you!

You will have to pay close attention to each guest individually. Serve each person's favorite dessert. Personalize the seating cards according to each person's interests. That might take some time, it's true, but these small gestures will touch their hearts. And when it comes to these little touches, there is none better than you...

Cook light. You hate to see the table overflowing, and so do your guests. It's not about starving everyone or making everyone fat, either. A nice creamy soup over thick saucy dishes, a meringue instead of a mousse: you know just how to get by with light meals.

Do yourself up. Christmas is a time for bringing out your most beautiful garb, to buy a new dress, or to try on that new outfit. After all, Christmas is also a time for having fun. You will please everyone with your elegance.

Scorpio:Don't make your guests feel guilty. All this food while there's hunger in the world! And this celebration of consumption - shouldn't spirituality take precedence? Of course you are right, but is now really the moment to bring all this up? What is the point in making your guests uncomfortable and losing your cool over matters you currently have no control over? You can raise others' consciousness later - but not on New Year's either!

Pass on naughty gifts. Whatever happens between you and your partner when you're alone is your business... It is useless, even rude, to embarrass your friends or family with risqué toys. It might be fun to see their shocked faces, but it might not be all that appropriate to do it tonight... This kind of present won't excite everyone.

Customize your decorations. Instead of bringing out the fine China, why not opt for black dishes, opaque glasses, and mismatched silverware? That, or you could turn a commonplace object into something totally original and unique, something surprising. With you, one never quite knows what to expect... Don't let the public down.

Avoid arguments and controversy. Remember that Christmas is a time of truces, which means it's time to sweep any prickly topics under the rug and to be friendly towards those we can't stand the sight of... You can start up the hostilities later.

Light the fire. Play with shadows and light. Spread them around in strategic locations. Use scented candles, various-sized candlesticks, the fireplace... This particular atmosphere will enhance everyone's complexion and bring some warmth - and a hint of mystery - to your celebration.

Sagittarius:Set the mood. Christmas is a party - and you love parties. What with your enthusiasm and generosity, you know just how to put your guests at ease. Have singing, surprises, karaoke, even some trick candles... Everyone, whether they are 7 or 97, should find a way to have fun. Everyone laughing, reveling, enjoying the night. Success!

Don't get worked up. You did your best, and everyone can tell. It's no big deal if you aren't up on the best way to set the table dressings or if you forget to plan the layout. Your energy, and good mood, will make up for any little "faux pas" along the way. The most important things is being together and having fun. And, frankly, who cares about the rest?

Be comfortable in your own skin and in your clothes. You are going to eat - a lot, a lot. Which just means that it wouldn't be smart to wear a dress or pair of pants that are too tight while you help yourself to that extra pastry or last slice of cake. In short: have a little style and a lot of comfort, and that is all you need.

Plan big. Obviously, you are going to have a lot of extra food on your hands afterwards, but it's either that or spend the whole night stressing about whether your guests had enough to eat or not. Some might go to waste, but this is always better than coming off as stingy or greedy. And besides, finishing the leftovers is just another chance to reunite friends and family once again. The party, and the day after, won't stop you.

Start the countdown. You can't just "wing" Christmas. And so it would be in your best interest to control your enthusiasm, come up with a plan, and stick to it. First and foremost: stick to it. After all, what's the point in coming up with grand plans and great ideas and then put them off over and over, winding up totally overwhelmed and unprepared the day of. To have a really great Christmas, get organized!

Capricorn:Don't hold back. Too many gifts, more food than you know what to do with - yuck. All this overconsumption that comes with end-of-the-year parties - double yuck. That being said, do we have to resort to asceticism? You'll just have to see and deal with your guests, or hosts. Don't ruin their good time by getting moralistic on them, got it?

Let the children do as they please and follow their lead. There is a strong chance that they will leave the table in the middle of the meal, too excited to play with their friends or unwrap their gifts. Even if they shouldn't, don't get offended. Rules and principles are important, but not tonight! Not for this party.

Invite people you know will be alone on Christmas. Inviting your upstairs neighbor or a distant cousin will be a good way to get back in touch with the Christmas spirit, do a good deed, and to rid yourself of the guilt of falling into the same old trap of shopping and consuming, even though you swear every year that you won't do it again.

Don't sulk if someone forgets your birthday. Being born around Christmas means that your birthday is often forgotten. And, when your loved ones do think about it, they are likely too broke to give you extra gifts and too stuffed with food to feel like it. It's awful, it's unfair, but that's just the way it is. But, on the other hand, forgetting your birthday means that no one sees you get old. It's cold comfort, but is comfort nonetheless, right?

Rethink tradition. But don't forget them. And do as you please. Bring out the eternal Christmas green and red to get yourself on track and do something different than you did last year. Oh, you don't have to totally rehaul all your habits; just change a little something here and there, express your creativity, and let your fantasy out.

Aquarius:Play the game. Every year, it's the same thing: shopping for gifts, organizing the party, cooking, sending out invitations - all this without being sure everyone will have a good time. Just thinking about it is enough to overwhelm you. But hey, it's fun for the kids, and this is your chance to bring everyone together (once a year at least; it's not the end of the world), and besides: that's just the way it is. So put on a smile and muster your courage. Let's play.

Get a fruitcake. It's the Christmas dessert, and, even if traditions annoy you, you can't cut yourself off from them. Plus, there is a whole list of duties to respect, or else it just wouldn't be Christmas. Nothing is stopping you from going off the beaten path (at least a little), serving up your own kind of fruitcake, and offering dishes that you aren't used to alongside the classic fare. Blow away your guests without upsetting them. This is your challenge.

Spend but keep track. As soon as you have any money at all, you start to splurge, claiming the whole time that you are free to spend your money as you please. Except that it affects your accountant - and terrifies your partner. The best thing to do would be to come up with a budget and stick to it. The love you feel for your love ones can't be measured by how much you spend.

Have friends over. Family isn't only about blood lines. Family can also mean friends that you have chosen. Invite them to share Christmas with you and your family. What a gift to have everyone that you love gathered around you!

Go on a humanitarian mission. If Christmas and all the obligations that come with it are beyond your capacity, take off, get away from it all, make yourself useful, and throw yourself into fighting for a cause that is close to your heart. Sharing and generosity will be put you right in the Christmas spirit.

Pisces:Buy an Advent calendar. Opening a window for each day and starting the countdown to the big day will prepare you for the magic of this extraordinary holiday. Added to this are the bright lights of the streets and windows, children's mounting excitement, shopping for presents... This warm ambiance thrills you, so savor it without holding back.

Give love. Whether through a gift, a smile, a kind word, or the special attention you paid to the cooking or decoration. Highly invested and generous, you are sensitive to your loved ones' well-being. If they're happy, you're happy. And since they are happy, the celebration should be a fine one.

Get your loved ones involved in the preparations. No one doubts that you are capable of doing it all yourself, but that's not the goal. Suggest ideas to your partner and get your children and the whole family involved... The most important thing isn't trying to be as efficient as possible, but rather to bring everyone together in joy and happiness, togetherness.

Build your own play-list. Refined meals, heady wines, carefully chosen gifts - you do everything in your power to make sure your loved ones have a good time. Why not add a little music to the mix? Christmas carols, church music, or your favorite track will help create a warm and welcoming ambiance.

Enjoy. Once something is done, don't give it a second thought. If some of the little things go wrong, let them. You have given your all to make sure everything is perfect, that everyone feels good, so now it is your job to enjoy the moment and let yourself be filled with the Christmas spirit.