Saturday, 29 October 2016

Countdown to Christmas - My Five-Step Plan

Hi All

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You will soon get to realise that Christmas is my absolute favourite time of the year! To be honest, I am usually planning it all the year through...this year has been a little bit different, but I am one of those people that can happily watch a Christmas film in March and enjoy my Michael Buble Christmas album all year round.

Since my daughter came along, Christmas has been even better, albeit a bit more expensive! However, like with everything, I have had to get myself organised earlier and try to be a little smarter with the budget to suit our current income. I thought I would write a Christmas series but start today with the basics of how I start to approach getting sorted for 'the most wonderful time of the year!'

1. Write lists...

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OK, so I am massively into writing lists but I really do feel that preparing for the festive period is a time when they are a necessity. I write and re-write mine a number of times, just because that is how I am, but definitely jot down the following: cards to write; gifts to buy; food to prepare/bake; food to buy; important dates/events/parties and extras that don't quite fit in anywhere else! I always feel that this gives me something to work with, whether it be to gather my addresses to send cards out, begin to work on my budget for gifts or plan my December using my planner to make sure I don't miss any important event. I really do find that they are useful. Perhaps even invest in a Christmas planner, or devote a nice notebook solely to Christmas. This will keep everything in one place so that you can keep track of everything. Oh, and don't forget to write your own wish list for loved ones ;-)

2. Set a budget!

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I have to admit that this is the part that I am not very good at! I do get carried away when all of the festive items and gifts start to trickle into the shops. However, this year I have tried to be really strict with myself. I have focused on my gift budget in particular. I have quite a large family and we have a big group of close friends and our circles are growing with the addition of new children, which of course is great but can get expensive at the same time. It is important to remember that Christmas isn't about the cost of a gift and in fact not about gifts at all, however, I often feel pressured to meet high expectations that I perhaps have set myself and that's one of the reasons I've tried to be a little more reserved this year. Our circumstances are different anyway but spending at Christmas can get out of hand quickly. This year I have a clear budget for family and friends, have clear ideas for gifts and so far....fingers crosses.....it is going well! It is also important to make yourself a budget for food and drink, and even maybe a budget for days out, parties and events that you may wish to attend. Christmas is a time to spend with your family and loved ones, not one to be paying for well in to the next year-this is what I will be trying to tell myself anyway!

3. Use a calendar/planner to plan out key events.

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The run up to Christmas and New Year is always a hectic one, so being really clear of what work commitments you have, what family events you are able to attend and then any other extra festive treats you want to plan is really important. This could be something as simple as your kitchen calendar, or your Google calendar on your mobile phone. Start 'pencilling' events, commitments in as and when you are asked to attend. Don't forget to make time for the things you will want to do as a family such as a visit to Santa, or a wintery walk, or Christmas shopping. It's important that you don't double book yourself but also that you agree to what you want to do and what is best for you and your family. I always find it is a time of year where sometimes you have to decline offers/invitations as there is just too much going on. Don't feel bad about this. Having an overview of how your month of December is looking though can be useful to help you prioritise what is important to you. It isn't even November yet and almost all of my weekends are full from the middle of November...busy but I know we will enjoy every single thing that is planned!

4. Start as early as you can...

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I am usually a person who buys items in the sales ready for next year. This year we decided not to do that but I think I am regretting that decision as I'm now in a bit of a flap shopping! I have also tried to resist temptation to buy throughout the year but think I will go back to this next year. I just may have to identify my budgets first ;-) However, it is nearly the end of October and I would say I am about 1/3 of the way through my Christmas gift shopping, have started my food stock pile and have started to plan and pay for festive events we have planned for the end of November moving into December. I always like to have the majority of my Christmas gift shopping completed by the end of November so that in December I just have to worry about food and events. This can be achieved if you begin as early as you can. My family do live away, so I have been buying in advance for them for many years now, as we usually exchange gifts end of October/beginning of November. However, now that I have a child, I find that starting earlier helps me to spread the cost so that I can buy a little extra for her and then relax with her in December which frees up more time to spend with her enjoying the excitement that builds.

5. Take a step back and enjoy!

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Yes, you can enjoy the run up to Christmas. I believe that if you get organised, whatever way feels best for you, then you really can enjoy taking part in all of those traditions. Remember to take photographs to document the little things, maybe even make a December Daily to record it all with the kids. Try to pencil in some time for you to soak in the bath, catch up with friends or just have a lazy day watching Christmas films, and enjoy the moment. It is easy for Christmas to overwhelm you and it has me on many occasions, but I try to enjoy it all the same. Remember what the true message of Christmas is, whatever your beliefs are, and enjoy the time with family and friends.

I am no expert in this field but these are the things that I do that I feel let me enjoy the season as well as getting all of those things done that need to be done. I hope this has been of some use to you and if you have any other things that you do then let me know. If I've mentioned anything else you'd like some extra info on then pop a comment below and I will get back to you.

This is the first of my Christmas series....I'm hoping to share some gift guides and some posts on some of the traditions we do in our household over the coming weeks. Hope you enjoy them!

Thanks for stopping by!
xx

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