Christmas Day is almost here. I've got the turkey and meat pack to pick up from the butchers tomorrow morning along with the vegetables from the greengrocers but apart from that, I'm pretty much sorted.
At this point in the month, I find that people tend to fall into one of two camps; the smugly sorted and the ones running around like headless chickens frantically trying to get everything finished in time for Santa coming. Whichever horse you're backing, there's still time to pull it back round and plenty of time to learn from your experience and sleigh Christmas for many years to come.
Today, I thought I'd share my top tips on how to sleigh Christmas. I was going to write this post earlier in the year but I thought it would be brushed over with many thinking that they'd have ages yet.
1. Plan ahead
I think we've all been guilty of leaving everything to the last minute but if you decide what you're going to do for Christmas earlier in the year (i.e. whose house you're going to or which pub you're booking in at) then you'll be able to plan accordingly.
2. Start saving in January
For most, Christmas is really costly but let's face it, its not worth getting into debt over. I know so many people that whack everything on their credit card or take out a short term loan and end up paying over the odds for months and months just to get it paid off, meaning that they'll have ended up paying FAR more than what that Christmas gift set that ended up in the Boxing Day Sale was ever worth.
Make Christmas affordable by starting to save in January. A little bit each month, transferred into a separate account as soon as your wages hit should mean that you get used to not having that money within your disposable income quite quickly and it'll soon mount up. When it gets closer to Christmas, increase the amount of money that you're saving if you can and if you know exactly how much certain things are going to cost (for example, I know our meat pack is £55 from Stirks Butchers each year) then transfer that over and you can tick it off your shopping list knowing that you're one step closer to having all of the essentials paid for.
3. Write a list
Make sure you have everything that you need to buy written down from the wrapping paper, cards and presents to the food, drink and table decorations, then stick to it! That way, you're not buying anything unnecessarily and you'll not forget anything. If you order your turkey, make sure you do that as soon as your butcher starts taking order then you'll not run the risk of forgetting and ending up having to find one at the last minute. Spar actually have a great Christmas Dinner Checklist which shares their top tips on how to prep Christmas dinner like a pro so do check that out for everything kitchen related.
4. Shop in advance
If you seen a gift on sale throughout the year that you think someone you know will love, then snap it up at the sale price. I always do this with things that I buy for Mr WLL as I tend to find Jack Wills knitwear and hoodies on sale in the summer months and sometimes I come across a random sale on his favourite aftershave in a gift set too. Buying things that I would buy anyway in the sale means that I can make my Christmas budget go further and it also takes the pressure off having to find everything that I'd like to get him in the shops come December. Check out my top 10 tips on how to be a savvy shopper to help you to make the most of your Christmas shopping trips.
5. Wrap as you go
As soon as the Christmas wrapping paper is in the shops, I purchase my wrapping paper. Usually I buy it from Paperchase because their styles are cool, quirky and they have a range of accessories that really give my presents the WOW factor. However this year I made the fatal mistake of buying glittery paper that was on offer in WH Smiths. I'll not be doing this again. While fantastic quality, the glitter went EVERYWHERE. NEVER AGAIN!!
Anyway, my point is, if you wrap as you go, it wont be so overwhelming as it gets closer to Christmas. Plus if you have any friends, family or kids around your house then they'll not run the risk of finding their present early!
6. Shop none perishables EARLY!
Buy none perishable food and drinks early to avoid having to spend too much time in the supermarket a couple of days before Christmas when its mega busy. I buy all of our drinks and alcohol, crisps, nibbles, frozen party food and anything else that doesn't go off, a week or so before Christmas. Clear out a cupboard in your kitchen to store everything in and don't do what my dad usually does- eat the Christmas cake in advance!!
7. Shop online
I do love an annual trip to the Metrocentre at Christmastime. Me and one of my best friends from school have a tradition where we go at the start of the festive season to get the first of our presents, our wrapping paper and Hotel Chocolat choccies but we go mid week, during the day when its a lot quieter and then Mr WLL and I tend to go closer to the day itself when he's off work. We tend to go for lunch somewhere nice and go to the cinema to see a Christmas film too and really make the most of the festive period.
However I do the vast majority of my main Christmas shopping online. I look for gift guides and scour websites to find the best deals on the items that I want to buy and find that its so easy to make the most of my spending budget and time this way. Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are a great time to take advantage of special offers and I'm always googling discount codes and looking for free delivery to make my money go even further. Then its all delivered to my door within a few days and I just need to wrap it all up; so much easier than having to traipse around the shops.
8. Make the most of the festive season
Planning and prepping in advance, shopping and wrapping as you go and putting money away each month throughout the year ensures that come Christmas time, you're able to make the most of the festive season because you've saved yourself valuable time and hopefully money!
Search out lots of local Christmas themed days and nights and make plans to go along with your friends and family to enjoy them. I have lots of small groups of friends and we all do different things at this time of the year together whether its a Christmas meal out, a festive cinema date or to see a winter garden wonderland all lit up with the most beautiful twinkling lights. For me, Christmas is about spending time with the ones that I love so being prepared in advance enables me to be able to achieve this.
9. Clock off at 2pm on Christmas Eve
Give yourself a clocking off time on Christmas Eve. Get up early, get all of your errands done (collecting the turkey and veg in our case) and when you're finished early, get started on enjoying Christmas. We have Christmas Eve traditions where we open our stockings, have a Lush bath each, pop on our new
Christmas jarmies and enjoy our little chocolates from our stocking. We have some picky food for supper and a glass of mulled wine in front of a Christmas film on TV. Its a chilled out, cosy start to Christmas and it couldn't be achieved if we were still rushing around at 10pm.
10. BREATHE; its ONLY ONE DAY!
Remember to breathe. Christmas Day is literally one day and it really is all a great big fuss for the sake of one day. I've seen women trying to battle with two giant trolleys around the supermarket, pilling stacks of food inside and getting themselves stressed to hell. The shops are only shut for ONE day.
Remember to breathe, try to relax and remember what Christmas is really about. I'm not talking about religion here, although history and faith tells us that that's what its about but really, Christmas is whatever it means to you. For me, that's spending valuable time with my family. If you're stressed, you can't do that. If your mother in law is irritating you over how to do the sprouts or your cousins kid wont stop pressing play on that talking toy Santa bought her, just breathe through it. Don't let it get to you; find joy in other things in the day instead and if it annoys you THAT much, then let that inform your plans for next year but don't let it spoil this Christmas.
Make the most of it, enjoy your time with family and friends and focus on collecting plenty of memories, not things.
I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and really enjoy the festive period, take it all in your stride and if the dinner goes tits up, laugh it off and grab another glass of Bucks Fizz!
How will you be spending Christmas this year? What are your top tips for sleigh-ing Christmas?