Between the cooking, shopping, decorating and the social pressure to enjoy every minute of the season, its hardly surprising that Christmas often brings a sense of stress. In an attempt to make this Christmas a celebration like no other, I’ve made a few changes to the way I approach the holiday and have focussed on being prepared. My aim: to have Christmas sorted by December 1st.
If mad rushes to Oxford Street on Christmas Eve are your bag, I applaud you but if, like me, that makes you break out in a cold sweat, here’s how I’ve approached things to keep the festive chaos under wraps.
Identify your responsibilities
In the words of Maria Von Trapp “let’s start at the very beginning…” – it’s a good idea to sit down and compile a list of everything you need to do before the big day – this will become the list of all lists but it’s a great way to focus your attention. Make sure you write down everything, regardless of how small a task may seem. My list covered who I needed to buy for, social gatherings and shopping lists.
Christmas has the potential to completely break the bank, which is why this step is so vital. Set a total budget for presents and work backwards setting a limit per person you want to buy for. Don’t get me wrong, the thought behind a gift is far more important than how much you spend, but it’s all too easy to go OTT. To avoid weeping into your receipts come January, budget, budget and then budget some more.
Stick to your budget
I realise this point is implied by the previous but it’s one I had to remind myself of, especially during the whole Black Friday/Cyber Weekend thing. There really is little point in going to the hassle of working out your numbers only to blow it with one mighty trip to Westfield. I simply updated a spreadsheet each time I spent anything, but keeping a list on your phone works too.
Gather your intel
Thanks to social media we can communicate with anyone at the drop of a hat but gone are the days of everyone having an address book, and at Christmas that becomes a faff. If you’re into sending Christmas cards, collate everyone’s addresses before you sit down to write them. That way you’ll know exactly where they’re all going and you can just enjoy a stress-free evening in, with a glass of wine and Love Actually whilst you write your cards. You’ll thank yourself for starting a list next year too.
I’m normally an impulse shopper but part of this new found Christmas organisation means embracing the effort and doing some research. By starting so early, you can make the most of the sales too – double win. If you’re in need of some gift inspiration, I have a range of gift guides that are worth a quick look (if I say so myself!).
Once you’ve got your shopping done, get straight on with wrapping and labelling. It’s often the finishing touches that get forgotten about and leave you surrounded by sellotape and gift tags on Christmas Eve. Throw on your favourite Christmas film, light a festive candle and get wrapping – make it an event to look forward to rather than one you dread.
Right, I’ll stop there for now but hopefully you find these tips helpful in saving both pennies and stress. I’d love to know how you approach Christmas – are you a planner or a last-minute shopping extraordinaire?
Sincerely, Sarah xx