PRINCE2 and Christmas risks – a guide

A broken Christmas bauble

Christmas is one big project. For some, it starts just a few days before the big event (basically now). For others, the next Christmas project basically begins on 27 December – or as a famous German football coach once said, “After the game is before the game”.

As with any project, there are risks. In PRINCE2®, a risk is an event or set of related events and it might be possible for it to occur (that doesn’t mean that it will occur though). It’s also something that would impact the objectives of the project and could either have a positive or negative effect.

Now with Christmas, a risk might put your celebrations under threat.

The presents

With the pandemic you might not be able to go out and buy presents, so you have to order that fancy toy online. But you need to make sure you check the delivery times because you don’t want to risk it arriving after Christmas. Just imagine those sad, disappointed children’s faces.

But you also need to ensure top stakeholder communication around Christmas and presents. If you want your partner to buy something specific, make sure you tell him and double-check that he understood, especially if it’s a male partner (based on personal experience). Otherwise, you risk getting something completely different – potentially some tech gadget he wants for himself (gender stereotype alert!). If you are planning to buy something for your female significant other, make sure you get it right. If it’s a piece of clothing, check her size (that one is very easy, just have a look at what she actually wears these days). If you get it too small, there’s probably going to be very justified angry looks or even tears on Christmas Day. And don’t even think about buying the wrong perfume.

The tree

(For those who haven’t set it up on 1 December and it’s now already completely dry and a fire hazard)

Putting your Christmas tree up…if you haven’t done that yet and you have children or pets, there might be a few things you want to consider. Don’t let your (youngish) kids run around barefoot while helping you. Broken Christmas baubles and bare feet…let’s just hope you don’t have a white carpet.

With pets the risk assessment should be, will they be attracted to shiny things? Cats can be an issue and they might regard your decorated Christmas tree as a huge playground. Dangling shiny things are like a magnet for many felines. Or they might simply decide that nature inside means that there is a huge climbing frame for them. So be sure to check the tree won’t easily topple over.

Another thing to consider is, if you live in an area where you can actually cut your own tree, make sure there are no furry surprises inside. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation comes to mind.

The food

Again, in these strange times, this is something that needs to be planned carefully. While you might not be able to celebrate with friends and family this year, you still don’t want to end up with a frozen pizza on Christmas Day (although personally I wouldn’t mind that).

Delivery slots with supermarkets are already long gone for the days around Christmas (if you got one, make sure you tip your delivery driver or give them some Christmas chocolate – sharing means caring). As with every year, the aisles will be overrun by panicked last minute shoppers who are desperate for a turkey, pigs in blanket or veggie alternatives. And with Covid you really want to avoid that if possible. So, make sure you have a dinner plan, buy your ingredients ahead of time if possible and if you really need to head out to the shops, wear a face mask (over your mouth AND nose).

So, make sure you consider the potential risks for your Christmas project. Hopefully you’ll have some joyful days and don’t forget to reach out to those that will be on their own.

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