Look at me, throwing the C-Word around already. Although I think it’s accepted more these days anyway!
The word planning was chucked in there too and to me that does mean starting early.
In our house we work towards Christmas from January. Is that a little extreme? I just find it easier this way. I mean, I’m not buying the Turkey in January but I do start saving and I also make notes of gift ideas all throughout the year.
I’ve talked before in other posts about using a website called Everydollar for budgeting and this is no different. It’s straightforward for us to save for Christmas, we just put away the same amount each month into an online account called ‘Christmas’ – creative or what?!
This means that throughout the year I can buy gifts as and when I see them as long as I have enough saved to cover it. One of the perks of doing it this way is I can snap up a bargain or two in the sales. I feel less ripped off than I would buying everything late in the year, when things will just halve in price on Boxing Day.
I take a similar approach to gift wrap and boxed cards here too, I’m more than happy to pick these up in the January sales and stash them away. This means I can afford to buy good quality wrapping paper… not the type that tears into a hole on every corner of a box!
Any gifts I do buy early are stored away in a spare drawer. Storage can be an issue in my little house so I have to be careful with this part. I might need to work out a plan B for this bit so that I can stock up more in the future. Any suggestions for this are more than welcome…
Now let’s talk spreadsheets. Call me a loser but I couldn’t live without my planning spreadsheets, I use them to organise just about everything. I have two just for Christmas.
The Christmas Card/Gift List – this might sound simple but I also use it to track gift ideas I come up with throughout the year; the budget for each gift; the type of card I send and the addresses for each person. I make a new tab each year to allow me to remember what gifts I have previously given.
The Christmas Dinner Plan – This one is only used if I am making the Christmas dinner at home, which is rare. I use this to know what needs to be done at what time and for the oven timings too. I’ll admit this one takes it a bit too far and you’re all probably groaning at the thought… but it works and there are no burnt spuds in our house!
With all that out of the way I can spend more time nearer the big day doing all the Christmassy things I enjoy; like wandering round the local garden centre and late night shopping in Leeds on a crisp night, all wrapped up warm.
I buy a new Christmas decoration for my tree each year and have an annual trip to a Christmas Market with a friend I only see that one time per year… this year we are visiting the York Markets. I won’t have any gifts to buy by this time though, which means I just get to treat myself!
This leaves me with just one last thing that I like to plan. It’s something that I have done since being a kid. I have to buy the Christmas TV Guide. I know we have it all available online and on the digital boxes now… but it’s just nostalgic to me. I go through the guide and highlight all the Christmas TV that I want to watch. These days I follow it up by adding it in to my Sky planner, so I have moved on from the dark ages a bit!
No one ever truly feels like they have everything under control… do they?