Not to offend but, is it too early for the C word?!
Apologies if this causes offence. We are about to mention the C word. And yes, you may well think it is too early.
But is it?
Even though it’s only the beginning of autumn we all know how time flies. And Christmas (sorry but we did warn you!) will be here before we know it. We reckon it’s around 12 weeks away.
So how about you make this the year when you really are on top of everything and get super organised well in advance. So that you can then actually enjoy the Christmas season rather than dashing around at the last minute like a rabbit caught in headlights.
If you actually prefer the last-minute-rabbit-caught-in-headlights-scenario then stop reading now. But if you’d really like this year to be different then why not follow our Twelve Weeks of Christmas plan for your best Christmas ever?
The good news is that if you start getting organised now, not only will you feel better and enjoy Christmas much more, you will also find that you are saving money. Let’s take a look:
Week 1 – Decide who is going where
First and foremost you need to decide what you are doing at Christmas. Decide now. Then let people know. So many families spend weeks treading on eggshells trying not to upset each other and trying to second guess who really wants to do what. Even so, it can end up with nobody being happy and everyone grumbling. So get your decisions made now, involve whoever and whenever, then breathe …
Week 2 – Set a budget
Before you do anything else you need to sit down and work out your finances. Most of us overspend at Christmas, to the extent where we’re scared to add it all up. But spend time this week working out how much money you think you will need to spend.
We recommend getting a pretty – perhaps seasonal – notebook and using it for all your Christmas lists. Your first list is to work out your budget. Make a list that includes everything – presents, cards, postage, food, drink, decorations, travelling and accommodation – and decide the amount of money you think you will need for each of them. If you do not have enough money then you need to either:
- plan how to make more money over the next 12 weeks
- cross some things off your list
- reduce the amount of money you are going to spend on things.
Week 3 – Plan your present shopping
Now you need to make a list of everyone you need to buy presents for and write ideas of what to get for them. Yes, sometimes when you are Christmas shopping, something will almost literally leap out at you: the ideal gift for someone. But generally it is more effective to have a good idea in advance of what you are going to get.
Once you have this list you can also add where you plan to get the gift eg online, shops, Christmas Fayres etc so that you can organise your shopping into logical groupings. Remember to remain within your budget – it is so easy to lose control at this point. Finally work out when you are going to get each group of gifts: this needs to work with the time you have available and also when you will have the money for each shopping session. Also take into consideration up and coming opportunities for special offers such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Then get started with your shopping as soon as you are ready! And keep this going week by week until you finish.
Week 4 – Plan your time
You’ve already realised that you need time for shopping and it’s a good idea to organise your diary to fit in the various other demands on your time. There are likely to be Christmas social events with family, friends and work – plus school events such as Christmas plays, fayres, parties and carol services. These need to go in everyone’s calendar/diary so that nothing is forgotten or double booked.
Also make sure that you build in time for essential chores. We’ve already looked at present shopping but there will also be food shopping and preparation, plus other household chores to sort out. Ring fence some time for these, otherwise you may end up being stressed despite your best efforts to avoid this.
Week 5 – The Great Christmas Bake-Off
If this is the year when you would love to make your own Christmas cake and/or pudding then get these done now. You’re even allowed to play Christmas music while you do so! Then wrap them up and store them somewhere cool and dark. Just remember to top them up with your favourite tipple every couple of weeks or so, to ensure a fabulous result by the time Christmas arrives.
Week 6 – It’s a wrap
Whether you love or hate wrapping Christmas presents, it can turn out to be a massive chore if you leave it until you’ve finished your shopping. So this week wrap and label everything that you’ve bought so far. If your present needs to be posted then also get it into its postbag, addressed and ready to go.
Either make room in a cupboard or set aside a large box for your wrapped presents. From this point forward, wrap and label presents as you go so that you don’t have to do it all in one go at the end. Also why not take advantage of gift wrapping if it is offered? Many stores and online companies do this, either at a very small charge or for free.
If you worry that you will forget what you have bought then make sure you tick presents off your list as you go, and make a note if they have already been wrapped and where they are stored.
Week 6 – Buy and write your cards
As we communicate and interact so much online, many people don’t bother sending Christmas cards any more. But if you do still send them then you need to make sure that you send them to everyone you want to, and no-one you don’t.
So make a list of who to send them to and you will then know how many to buy. If you don’t like writing Christmas cards then start this week and just do one or two every day until they’re done. You may want to include a round robin letter to save you writing too much inside; and also see if you can print address labels for them to save you another chore.
Week 7 – Get your house in order
Whether you are having guests to stay over Christmas or just want to be able to relax at home, it’s good to sort out whatever niggling little jobs need to be done. So get everyone to make a wish list then decide between you what are the most essential things on the list and what can realistically be done before Christmas.
Also get everyone involved in decluttering and deep cleaning the house. If you do a little every week this can go a long way. Try persuading the kids that they need to make more room for their Christmas presents!
By all chipping away at it, you should be able to get your house in order by December – just in time to put up the Christmas decorations.
Week 8 – Plan your recipes and shopping
Take time this week to sit down and plan your Christmas food. Whether it’s Christmas dinner or other meals or parties, it really helps to plan your food and drink well in advance, and get your shopping organised.
So enjoy trawling through Christmas recipes and planning what you are going to make. You can then get your shopping lists done and start getting your shopping organised.
Week 9 – Prepare food in advance
Once you have planned your Christmas meals and started your food shopping you can then start preparing some things in advance. This will help enormously nearer the time. Many Christmas dishes can be prepared in advance and frozen. Also you can be buying dried and tinned goods now to reduce the hassle of last minute shopping.
Week 10 – Post It!
By now all your cards should be written and the presents you need to post should be wrapped. You now need to post these as early as you can. To save time, buy stamps to put onto your cards at home rather than trying to do them in the Post Office.
Also remember to check when the last posting days are, particularly for those friends and family who live abroad. Some of these are horribly early! If in doubt post sooner rather than later, as the recipient can always choose to keep the card or parcel to open nearer Christmas itself.
Week 11 – Check what you have forgotten
Nearly there! By now you should be pretty on top of things, but take time to sit down with a mince pie and a glass of something lovely and check through all your lists to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.
And if you have that’s fine – you still have a couple of weeks to go!
Week 12 – Eat drink and be merry!
Believe it or not, it is now nearly Christmas and everything should be done. So hopefully you actually now have time to relax and enjoy yourself rather than yet another year of last-minute-rabbit-caught-in-headlights. And you realise it wasn’t too early for the C word at all!
We hope that our Twelve Week Plan enables you to really enjoy Christmas this year. Remember that if you need some additional funding to see you through then Loans 2 Go may well be able to help, so why not get in touch either online or by calling us on 0330 400 0403.