Keep on top of Christmas with Office 365

Mince pies, tinsel, turkey and presents... Everyone loves Christmas, but getting through it in one piece takes some serious planning. Here are 5 tips to show you how, with a little help from Office 365, you too can plan Christmas like a pro!

Mince pies, tinsel, turkey and presents.

Everyone loves Christmas, but getting through it in one piece takes some serious planning.

From keeping tabs on spending when buying gifts to staying in touch with relatives overseas, the festive season is littered with potential banana skins.

But help can be found by merely switching on your laptop.

We all know Office 365 for word processing, spreadsheets and email, but it also hosts a range of features to keep you organised and your family happy over the festive period.

1) Create Christmas cards with the personal touch

Tired of doling out the same generic Christmas cards year after year? Why not tailor each one to individual friends and family? This may sound like hard work but with Office 365 it's really not. Use Microsoft Word to create cards far more personal than those you would have stuck in the supermarket trolley in a few simple clicks.

Just pick a template from the card gallery and adorn with embarrassing photos, in-jokes only the two of you know about, and a sentimental message from your own heart - or a sarky one if you prefer.

Whichever way, you'll have a card designed by you and tailored to your mum or best friend which is much more likely to be remembered than one sporting a dated Christmas scene and a generic 'Merry Christmas!'.


2) Create a festive budget on Excel

It's easy to get carried away at Christmas. Kids spend months telling us what they want, while grown up kids such as boyfriends and husbands pretty much do the same. So it can be difficult to stay on top of what you've bought and - more importantly - what you've spent.

Know exactly what you've spent and how much you still have to spend with an Excel spreadsheet. You can also keep tabs on who's been bought what, in case you started shopping in November and forget by Christmas Day!

Sure we all know Excel from work but it can be just as useful at home. Create a new file and name it Christmas spends. Give your spreadsheet enough rows and columns for people you need to buy for, by when you need to buy, how many presents they're each getting, and how much you have to spend.

Then type the numbers in the cells inside the table and update them whenever you buy a gift.

You can also add up totals and make subtractions if circumstances change and you need to rein in your plans.


3) Can't find those handed-down Christmas recipes? Create a newsletter containing them all

Christmas is all about traditions and nostalgia, and there's nothing more nostalgic than recipes passed down the generations. On the back of the Great British Bake Off, baking is again a national obsession, with 45 million of us having baked this year, according to Mintel.

And Christmas will doubtless see many of us reaching to those decades-old family recipes for grandma's mince pies and Christmas cake to keep our new favourite hobby going into the new year.

These recipes are often scribbled on bits of scrap paper and stuffed inside drawers and books, but why not make things easier this year - and those that follow if your baking hasn't fizzled out -by bringing them together in one handy place?

With Publisher on Office 365 you can create a booklet that can be stored on your laptop and online.

Choose a template that suits your family recipes by searching Once you've got your template you can start adding your recipes by creating text boxes. 

You can also add pictures of the finished mice pies and Christmas cake - who hasn't dreamt of writing their own cookbook after all?


4) Access your budget, recipes or whatever from the office, café or train…

It's one thing being organised enough to create a Christmas gift budget, but what if you need it when you're out and about?

With SkyDrive you can save your documents to the cloud and access them via your tablet, phone or work laptop from pretty much anywhere - including the high street.

And what's more, Office 365 users are given 20GB of free cloud storage. Saving files to SkyDrive is easy too: just tap the SkyDrive tile on Windows 8, select whereabouts you want them to be saved (holidays/cooking/Christmas), swipe in from the bottom edge of the screen and tap on add files. Then all you have to do is tap Copy to SkyDrive, and you're done.


 5) Give overseas relatives a festive call

Although Christmas is all about home for some people, others like to spend it away. But just because your mum and dad are spending December 25 sprawled on a beach in Oz this year, it doesn't mean you can't wish them a Merry Christmas on the day.

What about the cost of the calls you may say?

If you boot up your laptop and use your Office 365 Skype allowance they could be free.

With Office 365 you get one hour free calls from Skype to a landline each month, and even when you've used your free allowance, international call costs are low.


Meanwhile, if your folks are tech savvy you can have Skype-to-Skype video calls wherever they are in the world without spending a penny.

Video calling means you can see as well as hear them too; great if you have a Christmas jumper of which you're particularly proud, or they're boasting tans they also want to show off.