So I can’t believe I’m already saying the big C word…Christmas!

So I can’t believe I’m already saying the big C word…Christmas! But guys, we are less than 8 weeks out!!! Holy guacamole! It’s such a fun, giving, vibrant time of year that often requires a fair bit of planning. Some of you might already be organised and ready to put the brandy on the Christmas pud, but many haven’t given it a thought I’m sure. Now I haven’t done any planning yet, but it is definitely on my mind and I’m about to start the process. Here are a few of my Chrissy tips to save you a buck and some time too!

Where to start? Write a list and get shopping! The crucial point here is to write the list. Don’t go into the blinding bustling shopping centres without a plan, you most likely will end up overspending or losing track of what you have bought for everyone. Make yourself a cuppa, find a quiet corner, and think of those you need to buy for and what they would truly like from you. Is there a budget associated like a work Kris Kringle, or even an overall budget to meet based on your savings? Being realistic and having the mindset of not stretching yourself to the point where you’re paying off your Christmas spending till March is super important. You don’t want to be heading into this joyous time with a cloud of debt and maybe even guilt. It is ok to get crafty or bake and cook for your loved ones as a gift. I’m a big fan of making a chilli jam or cranberry paste jarred in reused jars tied with twine. It’s sometimes the effort and thought that counts more than how much you have spent on the gift. It’s easy to buy a premade gift, and wrap it to get the job done. This year I will be making my chilli jam as an activity with my 6-year-old granddaughter, Millie. To show her the love and effort that goes into it can be just as special. Similarly, write a card. Buy the cards in bulk, sit down with another cuppa, and write personal messages to your favourite people. It’s a warm, cup-filling, gratifying process that is truly special. It’s a great time to reflect on the year.

So we are just under 8 weeks out, we’ve got our shopping list, so let’s get shopping. A great approach of one of Hannah’s friends is that she ritually has Christmas lay-bys! She goes to the shops with a list, buys everything she needs for her kids, friends, and family, and puts them on lay-by. The benefits are that you’re buying early so everything has just been launched and is available. No more missing out by shopping last minute or compromising by buying something that just doesn’t quite cut it. Another big plus is from here she knows what she has spent and can budget a certain amount each week for the repayments and by Christmas she is all paid up to enjoy a carefree, fun Christmas.

Alternatively, do you wait for sales and risk it? Now with Black Friday Sales end of November, it’s a great opportunity to be organised and buy many of your gifts at a discounted price. Just be careful not to get caught up overspending and scrolling through the sales. Go online with purpose and your shopping list by your side and don’t stray! This will be tough I know. It’s always a good idea to sleep on it, so take some space to really think it through before you complete your purchase. So add to cart and complete the checkout the next day!

Talking of sales, how do we feel about Boxing Day sales? My team here has never battled the frenzy. They enjoy the process of shopping and gift-giving and can only imagine that they’d find the scenario stressful, competitive, and a little manic. They can see themselves easily overspending and making purchases that aren’t necessary. If you are treated with money for Christmas, it might be fun to experience a day like the Boxing Day sales, but it’s best to try not to get caught up in the frenzy and delve into your savings. Again, go with purpose and your list!  

Has anyone heard of Christmas Club accounts? They were very popular a decade or so ago but believe me, they are still around and still helpful. They are a type of savings account where you routinely deposit money throughout the year earning interest as you go. Your savings accumulate and are generally available from November 1st. You can withdraw prior but there is usually a fee involved.  These accounts are a great way to save and budget for the forced spending that comes at Christmas time.

Christmas time is about being with family and friends, sharing great food, and giving to one another. For some, Christmas is stressful. The lead-up with so many commitments and winding down work is stressful enough let alone organising all the food and presents, the mental load of that planning as well as the time to make the purchases, wrap and present them too. On the day, many families may have tension or sometimes this day highlights your loneliness. It can be very tough, so it’s important to sit back and be grateful and open to what the day may hold for you. I always try to make a point to be generous to someone outside my circle as I think if everyone took care of someone like this we’d be in a better place. Be considerate of how privileged you might be and how others may not be in a similar situation. I truly love Christmas.

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