It’s (almost) the most wonderful time of the year! I completely LOVE Christmas, and after the events of 2016 I think we are all really looking forward to the New Year, and a little break over December.

It’s usually a crazy time for my family. Not only has my husband spent the last few years on call for the RAF (you’d be surprised how much happens on Christmas Day!) I am still working on my business and taking the usual trips back to our respective parental homes. It’s a busy time but we still manage to squeeze in a bit of a break together.

So, how do you run a successful small business through the festive period, how do you manage to fit in all of those parties, family commitments alongside all of those last minute jobs that just have to be done before the end of the year and still have space for a holiday? Below are some tips that I have used and are successful as both a military wife (with a husband dashing off) and a business owner – hopefully you might find some of these useful.

The most important steps take place in the planning. Now is the time to make sure you have all the procedures in place for when you’re away from the office.

If you have an amazing team that you can hand over to, do they have everything they need to carry on without you? Imagine any potential problems they might have, and give them clear instructions on what to do in an emergency. Give them clear instructions on when they can and cannot contact you.

If you don’t have a team yet do you have all of your own procedures in place? Add a clear out of office to your email, stating how to get in touch with you in case of anything urgent – but only if it’s urgent.

Manage your cash flow before you leave the office. Check that all bills and invoices are paid when they’re due and send any reminders for the first week of January. Don’t forget there could be parties, entertainment and client presents to be purchased in December, is this going to have a knock on effect in January?

Check that your office equipment is working and all up to date in order to minimise breakdowns or software issues while everyone is in shut-down. You don’t want to be searching for IT help on the 23rd December!

Send an email to your most important clients explaining that you will be away and if you’re going abroad that your internet might be limited. I always exaggerate how much time I will be away from the office just in case, then if I get back earlier they’ll happily surprised and impressed that I am back already.

Automating key tasks before you leave the office can also save you a lot of worry.

There are lots of apps out there to help you with scheduling social media posts for later in the month. Facebook has one built in and Later, is a god send to Instagram. Hootsuite can even sync your multiple social media apps. The first three social media accounts are free with the app and there’s a small monthly charge for more platforms. They are really handy in the long run too when you find yourself too busy to post when the new year starts. I often plan a whole month’s social media posts in one go and then add to it when something relevant pops up or I publish a new piece of work to my portfolio. You can even schedule emails to send while you’re away to chase up any lingering invoices or comments you might need for the new year.

Of course, you can remotely check your emails while you’re taking a break, but make sure you limit yourself and spend time with the important people in your life, or you’ll be having a very lonely time next Christmas. Check your Wi-Fi is good enough if you’re at home or abroad, but do not reply to anything that can wait until January. As soon as a client realises you are still contactable they’ll be replying, and before you know it you’ll be spending Christmas with your computer.

It’s ok to have some time off when you’re a business owner. Time off is just as important for your business as it is for you. Not only is it a great time to rebuild those family links and spend time with your spouse, it’s the best time to recharge and get re-focused on the coming year. Some of my best business ideas have arrived while I have been taking time off. It gives me time to focus on the bigger picture and dream big in my business. It’s a time to plan for the future and to reflect on what’s worked so well in the last year, something I am sure we will all be doing on New Year’s Eve.

It’s also important for us entrepreneurs, as I am sure one of the major reasons we started our own business in the first place was to have a better quality of life.

Take advantage of this festive time, enjoy the holiday and embrace 2017 and all of the exciting things that can happen to your business, after you’ve had a little rest from 2016 first.