Friday, 19 July 2013

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Begin NOW!

I love Christmas.
I adore displaying my vintage Christmas decorations I have lovingly collected.
I adore seeing my kids grow ever-more excited as the days approach the 'big day.'
I love the songs, food and cheer. I even enjoy the shopping aspect. As long as I have carefully planned for it that is.
With six kids, gearing up to December 25th is a huge event. I start saving and preparing for each year from Boxing Day onwards. Yes, Boxing Day!

Here are some of my tips for preparing for the most expensive day of the year. The earlier you start, the better and in so many ways!

Shop from Boxing Day onwards for bon-bons, cards, paper plates, serviettes, wrapping paper, decorations, candles and other bits that are reduced by as much as 80% immediately post-Christmas. So many head to the stores on this big shopping day. It doesn't hurt to pick up next year's Christmas items at bargain prices while you are out looking for the big-ticket scores. You don't have to head to a major mall and battle the crowds to do this. Even your local supermarket or newsagent will have bargain bins containing these items.

Buy items at EOFY (End of Financial Year) sales. Many of these sales are still on so get shopping!
Start a Christmas box where gifts can be placed with recipients in mind: Teachers, kindergarten helpers, gardeners, family members etc. Basically you are shopping for whoever deserves a thank you and season's greetings gift at the year's end. Small incidentals and extras such as these gifts add up to many dollars when they all come at once in December.

Start a Christmas Club account:

If you haven't got the Christmas savings account set up, it is never too late to start one. Many banks offer these accounts and they can be opened year round. Usually your savings cannot be withdrawn until October's end, protecting your cash from other intrigues. If you begin in January, set a fortnightly amount to be deducted from your salary and automatically deposited into your Xmas account. No need to think about it further and you won't notice its absence from your day to day living. If you start later in the year, add a bit extra to make up for the months lost and watch your savings grow.

Buy throughout the year as you find things:

Feeling crafty at Christmas? Start early and buy your supplies as you see them on sale. Check out the sale bins at craft stores. Craft stores always have sale bins year round and there are many good bits to be snapped up for either making gifts or gift giving.
Sign up for emails from online stores and pick up goods as they advertise with or without recipients in mind. You are guaranteed by the year's end to have someone to gift your superfluous finds to.
Not sure about online shopping? Read my tips here for the ultimate guide to shopping online.
Be sure if you shop online closer to December 25th, that you allow time for your parcels to reach you.
Get the kids to write their Santa lists early:

Help yourself as soon as you can. Know what spend you are up for.
Set a budget per head and try to stick with it. No doubt it will blow out but at least you will feel a little more organised!

Make your Christmas laybys.

Despite the commonly advertised big toy sales mid year, don't buy all your gifts for your kids too early ie. June. Experience has taught me kids change preferences quickly when it comes to toy choices and what's hot now won't be the hottest thing by December. If you do layby, do the big stuff like trampolines - standard equipment which will always be popular, unlike the latest fad toy, interest in which will fade away with time.
Believe me, their lists will change many times over in 6 months!
Buy Christmas food over a number of weeks:

Pick up a new table treat each week from September when Christmas foods begin to appear in stores. Grab your puddings, European cookies - whatever you love. Many stores stock early and then don't get the really special imported things again. Make the most of its availability while it's there. This often saves money and helps budget the cost over a period of time rather than all at once when everyone panics.
Do check expiry dates too. Most things like plum puddings have use by dates extending a year or two beyond December so there is no problem poking it in the back of the pantry for later consumption. Last year we kept one unused pudding and ate it the following Christmas as the use by date was still around 12 months away!
Scour your recipe books and plan buying early for the big day's foods and baking. Everyone hits the shops in the lead up to Christmas like it's the end of the world! Get in before Armageddon!

Follow these steps to have a relaxing Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Importantly, the lead up to these dates will be stress free months.
No last minute shopping, no last minute worries!

Anything to add or have I missed something?
What tips do you have for the approaching silly season?



  1. I love this post! Every year I swear that this is the year I will be organised and start planning early for Christmas, and every year I fail. This post has given me the kick-start I need! And I learnt my lesson in the past with the lay-bys, I thought I was being so clever by putting everything on layby in August, until I got to December and realised that the kids were no longer interested in the stuff I'd bought! :(

    1. Yep, know all about those lay-bys. Will never make that mistake again. It was like buying everything twice over. I remember returning 60 percent of the purchases in early December to re-buy the stuff the kids actually wanted! And then the store lost a huge component of the lay-by that I actually did want! Total disaster!
      Glad the suggestions were of help! :D

  2. We have 8 children and indeed have usually started planning at least 18 months in advance for gifts. Christmas this year is sorted well and truly!

    Birthday presents and Christmas are planned and organised between us as parents. We have the list on our phones of suggested gift ideas for each family member, so that if we see it during the year for an awesome price, we can buy it.

    We also give experiences as gifts. Our children love camping, cross stitching, festivals and enjoying roller derby with us so we factor movie tickets, festival tickets, camping equipment and practical items they'll love into their times away with us.

    This year, we'll be camping at Woodford Folk Festival with a few of the children for Christmas day (the others have opted for other ideas but we'll all be together there on New Years!), it's always an amazing time.

    Having ASD children as well, we find them having their own items to pack and use whilst we are out and about, certainly helps then to enjoy just being with us and being a child still.

    Master 18 is still a big kid but apparently he wants a slushie machine. ;)

    Great tips! x

    1. WOW! 8 kids!! I had intentions for 8 but my husband would drop dead if I did that to him so 6 is the stopping point for us! Also, I have had 5 C-sections so things start to get risky! Great Christmas suggestions too. I guess Christmas will be a work in progress for us for many years.

  3. Great Tips. I love Christmas too.

  4. Clever lady. I always have the best intentions but find myself scrambling at the end of the year with all the other mugs ... However, after reading this I still have time ... Off to do some Chrissie shopping :-)

  5. Great post! It has inspired me to be more organised about Christmas this year! Thanks again.

  6. All very good advice, the Christmas Club was an essential for my mum and now I am beginning to understand why. And kids' santa lists are a GREAT idea.

  7. Great tips! I try every year to be organised, but I usually fail miserably lol Comes with living out of town and over an hour from a department store!

    MC x


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