Sunday, 1 November 2015

How To: Plan For Christmas

Now I know this post may seem very premature, but the beginning of November is the very latest I begin to think about all these things and get planning. Christmas is my favourite time of year, not that I am overly religious, but I love my family's traditions, having an excuse to catch up with relatives you rarely see and spending time just enjoying each others company. It's always magical. I am sure at some point I will write a very rambley post on all of our seemingly bizarre traditions that mean such a great deal to me as it's my favourite thing to talk about throughout December. But first I thought I would share some of my hints and tips about planning for Christmas.

Christmas Gift Guides

Christmas Wrapping

How to plan for Christmas

Set a budget:
Personally I save for Christmas all year round, as a little bit going out each month really spreads the cost and puts much less pressure on the November and December. However I am a strong believer that thoughtful, meaningful gifts and spending time with people is so much more important than the money, and you'll enjoy the season so much more if you gift within your means. One of my mum's favourite presents from me was a couple of nail varnishes and a few 'vouchers' for  me to paint her nails, because it was personal and showed I wanted to spend time with her. She has since exploited this and I have done all her manicures since (and I mean for years), but gifts like this are so lovely and don't break the bank.

Once you've got your budget it's also a great idea to start splitting this between people you want to buy for. It's so easy to get distracted in a shop, see something lovely and no matter what the price want to get it for a family member. But there is no point setting a budget if you aren't going to stick to it, so breaking it down by individual person is a great way to stay in control. Also include wrapping costs in this, as gift bags are getting so expensive now! But more on that later.

Collect hints/ideas:
This is one that usually starts around September for me, I make lists on my phone of anytime somebody has said 'ooh I really like this' or hinted 'I've always wanted...' so when the holiday season comes around I am not short of ideas. For close family you could also print out Christmas wishlist paper and ask for suggestions. Now this shouldn't be exclusive and surprises are always lovely, and the writer knows they won't get everything on the list, but it's great for when wider family ask 'do you have any suggestions for what I could get so-and-so?' as you have a list of good suggestions you know the recipient will love.

When thinking about presents for others there is nothing I like more than flicking through a paper gift-guide and highlighting ideas you think someone might like. Boots always have great ones, and the Debenhams one if pretty useful this year.

Check what wrapping you already have:
This is a biggie for me as it always shocks me how expensive good quality (I cannot stand ones that rip when you wrap, also can't stand the really expensive ones that are so thick you can't wrap) wrapping paper is. So before I go out and buy anymore I go through all that's left over from the year before, choose my theme, and see how much I actually need. This usually ends up saving me quite a bit as we always have so much more than I remember left over.

Plan your Christmas meal:
I know, I know, this must sound really early! But shops like Tesco and M&S already have their food to order catalogues out, with M&S even offering an 'earlybird' deal. If you tend to order most of your Christmas food to collect just before Christmas, it's time to get thinking! Now I know this might not be for everybody, but it takes so much stress out of the week before Christmas, knowing it's all sorted and you won't be stuck without a Turkey/Gammon/your meal of choice.

Lists, lists and more lists:
I think my biggest, and probably most obvious tip is just to stay organised. Make sure you know what you have already bought/done and what you still need to do. If you do your shopping online the last thing you want is to have to pay shipping twice because you forgot something, and having spent hours traipsing through heaving shops it's heartbreaking to realise on the journey back there was something you missed. The notes section of my phone becomes my bible as it saves me time and effort in the long run.

I hope at least some of this has been useful, and I would love to here you tips for pre-Christmas planning!

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