Google Calendar has been around since 2006. If you’re a seasoned user, there’s probably very little left for you to learn about the calendar app and its tricks.
But what you might not know is how to make all the calendar’s features work for you over the festive season. If used properly, it can be a great way to help you ensure the holidays go off with a bang.
In this piece, I’m going to share some tips and ideas that’ll turn Google Calendar into your ultimate Christmas companion.
1. Make a Dedicated Christmas Calendar
Don’t jumble all your Christmas tasks in with your regular calendar. It’s much better to keep them on a separate calendar sheet. It’ll be easier for you to manage and easier for you to forget about once it’s all over. Best of all, you’ll be able to share your Christmas tasks with other family members without giving them access to your regular agenda.
To make a dedicated Christmas calendar, click the drop-down menu next to My Calendars on the left-hand side of the screen and select Create New Calendar.
Give it an appropriate name and fill in the email addresses of the people you want to share it with, then click Create Calendar.
2. Add Everything!
Buy the turkey, wrap the presents, cook the sprouts, go to the school nativity play, put up the decorations, help the local charity, go carol singing in the church… the list goes on.
A Christmas calendar isn’t very useful if there’s nothing in it. Before the holiday season kicks off in earnest, spend the time to add every relevant event you can think of. You’ll reap the rewards when the festive period is in full swing.
3. Set Up a Daily Agenda Email
For some people, there’s nothing very “holiday-like” about Christmas; it’s the busiest time of the year. Your to-do list is endless and your stress levels are through the roof — worst of all, it’s not even December yet. Under these circumstances, it’s not surprising some things will get forgotten about.
Save yourself the hassle of checking your to-do list every day by setting up a daily agenda email.
Click the gear icon in the top right-hand corner and select Settings. Choose the Calendars tabs and hit the Edit Notifications link next to your Christmas calendar. Scroll down to Choose how you’d like to be kept up to date and tick the checkbox next to Daily Agenda.
If you’ve shared your calendar with multiple people, it might also be sensible to receive updates when someone else edits an event.
4. Create a Memory Journal
If you’ve got kids, Christmas is arguably the most magical time of the year. Similarly, as they get older, your kids will look back on their childhood Christmases as some of the happiest and warmest times of their lives.
Make sure no memories are lost by using the app as a journal. Remember, you can use an event’s Description box to log what happened and you can add photos of the day’s events by clicking the Add Attachment link.
If you’ve rigorously added all the season’s events before they happen, it’s a great way to quickly build up a Christmas diary.
5. Cook the Christmas Dinner
Cooking the perfect turkey while simultaneously juggling the starters, vegetables, and roast parsnips is a challenging undertaking. You’ve only got to take your eyes off it for a minute and you’ll have burned it to a crisp.
Google Calendar can help. On Christmas Day, create an event for each individual food item you need to cook and add important information like cooking temperature into the description.
Remember, you can add very precise start times down to the exact minute. Set a notification for one minute before each event, and your phone will automatically let you know when it’s time to put the next thing in the oven.
For maximum ease-of-use, give each item a different color and set the calendar to Day View. Check out my example below:
6. Catch Up With Family
A sad by-product of the globalized world in which we now live is that families are often scattered far-and-wide. Sometimes it’s impossible for your cousin from Australia to be at your dinner table in London.
Of course, we still want to make the time to speak to absent people over the holidays, but it can be difficult to find the right moment, especially if you’re in different time zones.
Google Calendar makes it a lot easier thanks to its ability to schedule video calls in advance. Create an event and click the Add Video Call option, then share the event with all the participants.
Everyone will get a reminder on their phone when the video call is about to start, and everyone will get a single clickable link that’ll take them straight to the call itself. Even the most technologically illiterate family members will find it easy to join in.
7. Stay Healthy
With so much food, drink, and festive fun, how will you find time to maintain your healthy lifestyle? Research has shown it takes the average person until Easter to lose the weight gained over Christmas; it’s a sure-fire way to put an early dampener on your New Year’s resolutions.
Stay on track over the holiday season and take advantage of the Goals feature. It’s only available on Android and iOS, just hit the Add button and select Goal.
Google added Goals in April 2016. Unlike regular events, the Calendar app will automatically reschedule goals if you add another event which conflicts with it. You can also defer them when you get the notification and the app will find them another vacant slot.
8. Free or Busy
It’s Christmas Eve and you’ve got the entire household running around doing last-minute preparations. Suddenly, you realize you’ve forgotten to buy a present for Grandpa Bert. You badly need to see who’s free and send them down to the local department store for a pair of garish Christmas socks.
Try the Labs app called Free or Busy. Anyone you’ve shared the calendar with will have their availability listed alongside their name. It’ll either display the task they’re currently working on or list them as being free.
To access the experimental Lab apps, click the gear icon and choose Labs from the resultant menu.
Your Christmas Calendar
I’ve shown you eight ways Google Calendar can turn you into an organized elf and prevent you from being a Christmas clown. Now I want to know how you will make the app work for you over the holidays.
What tips have you got for someone who wants to sail through the festive season like a well-rounded snowball rather than bump along like a badly broken sleigh?
As always, you can leave your ideas, hints, and tips in the comments below.