Is it ever too early to start preparing for Christmas? Well, definitely not in November. Fall is about to end and the first snows of the year have started falling in some places. Stores all over the world are getting packed with Christmas stuff. Whether it’s chocolate boxes, toys or electronic gadgets, the shops are being loaded to their brim. The most wonderful time of the year is less than 60 days away and it will be great if you can start seriously preparing for it now itself.
Even if you are not the biggest fan of the festive season, it pays to be prepared for it. This post is going to help you prepare well in advance, without making you exhausted. Preparation is more than half the battle anyway. If you know how to prepare for Christmas early, like, well in advance, then by the time the big day rolls around, you will be more chilled than a turkey in January.
With Halloween behind us, the Holiday season is going to be here before we blink our eyes. Planning ahead is the best way to save money, headaches, and even your sanity.
Has your dinner table started hosting the “Christmas Chats” already? Are questions such as “Who’s going to host? Where is it going to be? What time will lunch be made? Who is being invited? What are you getting for so-and-so? “ being thrown around everyday? It’s about time you started getting ready for Christmas. If you leave everything till the last minute, or even till just approaching Christmas, you could find yourself stressed out, unhappy, panicking and not even looking forward to the most wonderful time of the year.
Who doesn’t love to celebrate Christmas? It’s such a wonderful time of the year. However, just sitting and waiting for the 25th day of December to arrive, is not going to result in a wonderful and joyous time. A very simple way to start is to make a list. Once you have a list, everything is so much more manageable. Planning your holiday in advance puts you in charge, and it can help alleviate all unpleasant things such as stress, debt and chaos, that can come with Christmas if you don’t prepare early.
Here’s what you need for preparing early for Christmas:
Work out a budget
Prior to start thinking about getting ready for Christmas, your budget needs to be well sorted out so that you can prepare wisely. Ensure that you include everything you will need. Food, decorations, presents, outings, obligatory tacky jumpers…even postage stamps for Christmas cards and parking at the shopping centre, leave nothing unplanned. Work out all your expenditures and make a note. You can then get a better idea of how to manage your money, without any unnecessary splurges closer to the big day. To get ahead of Christmas financially, help spread the cost of the festive season by putting away a certain amount of money per week. You could either transfer it straight into your savings account, or relive your youth and put actual cash into a piggy bank.
The earlier you start this the better, naturally, but you can tailor it to your specific situation by working out how much you need for gifts, food, travel, nights out etc, and then divide that by the number of weeks left. Making a list and setting a budget will help you feel in control.
Keeping your eye out for discounts and voucher codes in the months leading up to Christmas will help make December much more affordable.
There are certain big sales ahead of the big day — like Black Friday and Cyber Monday at the end of November — when most retailers will be offering savings on certain items. But you don’t have to wait until then. Sign up for emails to get alerts for your favorite shops and grab the bargains when they come up.
Try to use Handmade stuff
Having a handmade Christmas will certainly save you money, but you have to be organized to make it work. That’s why starting early is so important. You can make Christmas items like cards, decorations, small gifts and wrapping paper by yourself.
Start filling in your calendar
December and the lead up to Christmas is as hectic as it gets. Ensure that you are filling your calendar and diary with everything ranging from parties, to school events, family gatherings, term times and anything else that might slip your mind. If you have kids at school, make sure to include when they break up and any festive plays that might be thrown. Planning on ordering a turkey? Make a note of when you can order and when you can pick it up. Don’t be scared of being pedantic. If needed, don’t hesitate in jotting down the days to do the big Christmas food shop. the more organised you are now, the better it will be during Christmas. Don’t forget, failing to plan is the same as planning to fail.
Decide who is hosting Christmas Day
If you happen to be a Christmas party host this year, it’s imperative that you start even earlier. Have all the conversations with all the parties involved, so that there are no hassles at the time of the party. Your guests might need to tell other friends and family members that they will be having Christmas Day at yours, so the more notice that can be given to all parties, the better.
Finalize who’s coming
Now you know you will oversee Christmas Day, you need to get on that guest list! Figuring out who and how many people will be attending will help you get organised. Double check your guest list and start sending out invitations to people – the sooner the better. If some guests are going to stay ever, plan out what they will need for the night. Ensure that you are well stocked with supplies like extra toilet roll, spare beds, and bedding, deciding who will be sleeping where etc.
Send out the invitations
It’s never too early for sending out those invites. Inform your closest friends and relatives that you are hosting Christmas Day, and get numbers in. You don’t want to start preparing for 20 people, only to find out in a month’s time that half of the intended guests have already had another invitation. While extending the invitations, enquire about the food allergies or preferences your guests might have. If you have a family of vegetarians coming, you will need to ensure there is enough food available that they can eat. And guess what, that means more meat for you.
Start present shopping early
There’s no time like the present for this one. The most savvy shoppers tend to do their Christmas shopping during sales; either on Boxing Day from the previous year or in the summer. We can’t all be that organised though, and, to be honest, getting a head start now still makes you more organised than about 90% of the population. Don’t forget, between now and Christmas, are the infamous Black Friday sales. This is the perfect opportunity to stock up on a whole host of presents. Do your research thoroughly. Put down the names of everybody you wish to buy presents for (some important but easily forgotten recipients could be people like the kids’ teachers, colleagues at work, and maybe even the dog). Taking your time will really help you choose presents wisely and carefully – and you won’t have to worry about delivery times! It goes without saying that the sooner you get started buying gifts, the quicker you’ll be done. That’s not always practical in terms of finances, but if you buy some in September, some in October, and some in November, you won’t have to battle with other shoppers in December or pay over the odds for those must-buy gifts that have sold out already.
Make a list of everyone you need to buy for and figure out which presents you can (or should) get early — this is particularly pertinent for children who want a toy that’s sure to sell out. The real world doesn’t have The Flash who can just run to Japan and get DJ Rubber Ducky:
Wrap your gifts immediately
Once you’ve bought a gift, wrap it. You’ll be so glad you’ve done it bit by bit, way in advance, when you’re chilled out on Christmas Eve sipping on something sweet while your friends are trying to play the Wrap God by trying to wrap all presents in a single day.
You don’t need to use Christmas wrapping paper either. It’s cheaper (and more chic, some might say) to use brown parcel paper, or plain red or white. Enhance its festive vibe by wrapping it with a metallic ribbon.
Plan your wardrobe
All those sequins that will soon arrive in the shops are very tempting, but you can probably rewear quite a few outfits from last year, if you mix them up a bit.
Spend some time on your wardrobe, analyse it and figure out which pieces you can pull together to make a nice and fresh Christmas party outfit for this year. You can then spend less by buying some new accessories, rather than whole outfits. You’ll also be ready for all those parties without stressing about what you’re going to wear and panic buying.
Look up your recipes
Thanks to a host of celebrity chefs, there seems to be no shortage of cooking instruction shows on TV and the internet. And you can bet your Christmas stockings that they will be doing Christmas specials all Holiday season long. TV channels constantly telecast Christmas specials, which are repeated year after year, and they always provide great ideas for Christmas meals. Ensure that you record all the Christmas specials that you like. Also try scouring through websites and food blogs for interesting recipes. Don’t forget to ask friends and family for any special festive recipes of theirs, especially the ones that you have loved in previous years. Start documenting those recipe ideas now. Make a list of all the ingredients required so that you can be prepared well in advance.
Prepare food early where you can
If your planned Christmas feast menu contains items that can be prepared in advance and frozen, by all means, prepare and store them now. With some food, such as gravy and stuffing, you can prepare it, cook it, and freeze it a few months in advance, so that all you need to do on Christmas Day is defrost and reheat! Are there a lot of dry ingredients you can buy now so you don’t have to worry about them in December? Hit the grocery stores after you have finished making your list. Once you come back with your grocery shopping, create an area in your cupboards especially for Christmas food prep. To ensure that you don’t miss out on your turkey, speak to your local butcher or the supermarket where you buy your meat from. Enquire about their ordering dates and book your turkey.
Buy Christmas stamps
Once the Holiday season is in full swing, post offices are going to get clogged up and it will become very difficult to buy stamps in order to send your Christmas cards and merchandise. Start buying your stamps now so that you can send your Christmas cards with ease. So finish buying the stamps now so that you can avoid buying them when they become prized commodities. While you are at it, why don’t you get your Christmas cards ready as well? If you plan to add pictures to your Christmas card, finish taking them early, before the photographers become unavailable.
Start Writing Your Cards
Aside from writing enthusiasts, most people will find writing Christmas cards to be a very tedious albeit festive chore. That’s if you actually send any. However, there are a couple of ways you can make it easier.
The first option is to design a postcard-style card online that has a stock phrase, which you can post to everyone without having to hand write anything other than their address.
The second option is for you to buy cards that are small enough to fit in your bag. You can write a few whenever you have a spare moment during the day, whether you are on the bus or waiting in a line.
Fill up your December calendar as per the things you plan to do
December can get busy very quickly. Most people might already have at least one Christmas party on their calendar. Just print a calendar/daily planner for December and put it on your fridge. If you are a digital calendar user, update it accordingly. Schedule all important family events so that you don’t miss out on anything that you or your family members want to do during Christmas.
Visiting family and friends around Christmas time can take a big chunk out of your budget, especially when you’ve left buying your plane ticket to the last minute. Make plans now for who you’re seeing when, and get your travel sorted. After all, the earlier you book, the cheaper it is.