It’s definitely OK to start the Christmas chat now we’re practically into mid-December. I’m a huge Christmas fan and still get those tingles of excitement just as strongly as when I was eight years old. However, early December has traditionally been my most stressed out period of the year. Lack of organisation, planning and a last-minute rush of pre-Christmas work has always been my downfall. This year, miraculously, I seem to have avoided that pre-Christmas panic. Here’s how…
Before I do anything for Christmas I set myself a budget. It might not be an exact figure, but I have a general idea of how much I will spend on presents, food, days out and any unforeseen extras. This helps avoid that ARGH panic of realising you’ve overspent and don’t have the monies to shell out on the stuff you want. I tend to make November a bit of a lean month, putting aside cash for the bigger spending in December. As a family, November is about free days out and thrifty meal planning.
Savvy banking also comes into its own at this time of year. Having a current account helps me to keep track of my money easily and the extras become particularly useful too. For example, the Classic Plus Account from TSB offers 5% of your first £100 spending each month using your contactless pay debit card or Apple Pay. Handy.
Shop loyalty schemes are also very useful in December. Throughout the year we’ve saved up some of our vouchers to get money off our main Christmas food shop. I’ve also used my saved up points to go towards some gifts, giving me more cold hard cash to spend on the other festive things.
Being organised with my gift-buying this year has not only saved on last-minute Christmas stress, but it’s also helped save some money. Some of my gifts have been bought in the Black Friday sales, something I’ve never done before. Also, because I’ve given myself more time this year I’ve managed to find some lovely gifts in local charity shops. This isn’t always possible if you’re squeezed for time, because finding a good charity shop gift relies on luck and time to keep going back to browse and check on new stock.
The thought of buying my meat from the supermarket on Christmas Eve brings me out in a cold sweat. What if they’ve run out of turkeys? What if there are no chipolata sausages for pigs in blankets? These are the types of thoughts that would be running through my head as I ransacked the aisles. To avoid this I pre-order all our Christmas meat from our local butcher in early December. That way, I’m supporting local traders, ensuring our meat is locally reared and great quality and avoiding any last-minute missing turkey panic.
As a family we like to eat out together as a treat from time to time. The NLM’s family Christmas tradition that he introduced me to is to go out for a meal on Christmas Eve. Places can get really busy at this time of year and we’ve learnt in the past that it’s essential to book early if you want to guarantee a table at your favourite place. We booked our table back in early November!
All of these small things have helped to make this time part of this particular December a far happier one in our house. I’m not stressed about last minute prep and I’m actually enjoying all the pre-Christmassy things so much more this year.
How do you prep for Christmas? Are you a planner or a last-minute type?
Thanks to TSB for working with me on this post.