Christmas is a time of year that seems to build up for months (especially now that Christmas decorations are in the shops before Halloween these days). There is no denying this one day or week of the year can take a whole lot of effort, planning and preparation… before it is over in a flash for another year.
Sometimes the very thought of how much we need to organise before Christmas can feel overwhelming and almost make the effort seem like it isn’t really worth it. Yet most of us jump back on that Christmas planning horse year after year, hoping to create the perfect festive family occasion for our loved ones.
Personally I love Christmas. I love hosting it at our house with all of our family. I love planning the menu and creating small extra touches each year to make it extra special. And yeah, I love giving and receiving gifts. Christmas presents are fun, and just a side bonus on the importance of spending time together.
Getting organised early for Christmas has always been one of my best methods towards achieving a simplified Christmas. So this year I’m sharing my tips to a Simplified Christmas over two parts:
NOVEMBER CHRISTMAS PLANNING
While some may argue Christmas is just one day, why go to so much effort, most of us can’t help ourselves. And this can mean a total panic at the last minute trying to get everything done. So my biggest tip of all is starting your Christmas planning in November!
So what can you do to ensure an organised Christmas from November? LOTS!
Plan Your Venue
Work out where you will be for Christmas this year, whether it is at home hosting or if you will be travelling to more than one place, or perhaps even interstate or abroad. Where you are going plays a huge part in your Christmas planning.
If you are having Christmas at home, time to start thinking what you need to do around the house to get it ready for accommodating guests. If travelling, make sure your car is serviced or your tickets are booked and anything you need for your trip.
Christmas gifts can be so expensive, especially if you leave them until the last minute. Personally I like to start months ahead, picking up items along the way that I see on sale or that will be perfect for a certain family member.
Plan your Christmas gift list by deciding who you will be buying gifts for, what your budget is for gifts, and working out some ideas for each person. Start shopping now so you can break the costs up a little.
Or if you consider doing a handmade Christmas, make sure you work out what handmade supplies you need and start creating. Last year I did a completely handmade Christmas since we were a single income household for the first time.
Create a Budget
Speaking of spending, before you do anything, a Christmas budget is essential. Work out how much you have to spend and how much of that budget you want to put towards each part of Christmas – food, travel, gifts, etc.
A great tip to save money on Christmas expenses is to check any rewards programs you may be a member of and cash out gift vouchers with your rewards points if you have accrued enough. These are great for purchasing Christmas groceries or gifts, or giving as gifts. Plus they can take a while so do this ASAP so they arrive before you need them.
Christmas cards were once a huge thing, but these days many people give it a miss sending Christmas cards. A little sad because there aren’t many people who don’t love getting some actual mail for a change, in amongst all the bills and junk mail.
If you are planning to send Christmas gifts, November is a great time to buy or make your cards, write them up, address them and stamp them, ready to pop in the post box on December 1st.
If you know you need any new decorations or Christmas related items, it may be ideal to grab them in November before the big rush begins in the shops. Christmas shopping is hectic during December so get as much as you can now to minimise those December shopping trips.
If you have a new addition in the family, consider what you may need to get – a new stocking, a sentimental decoration.
If you are at home for Christmas and you will be putting on a feast, or if you plan to take food elsewhere, plan the majority of your menu in November. A simplified Christmas can be achieved if you don’t have to spend the days leading up to Christmas slaving away in the kitchen continually.
Make lighter work by knowing what you will need and purchasing any non-perishable items now. Also keep an eye out for specials such as turkey or ham, so you can cut your costs.
Some Christmas cooking can also be done ahead of time. I like to make my rum balls a few weeks before Christmas, so this could be done in November, as I always freeze them so they keep. In fact, in Queensland it gets so hot, we keep them in the freezer all through the Christmas period, making them a very refreshing treat.
To ensure you are keeping on top of all the must do tasks in your pre-Christmas lead up, a planner, diary or notebook may be the best option to help you achieve a simplified Christmas. You can grab mine in my Etsy store.
Keep track of things such as:
- Budget and costs
- Christmas gift purchases
- Shopping list
- Menu planning
- Christmas card list
By starting your preparations in November, your Christmas period can be organised and stress-free, giving you more time to enjoy the event for its ultimate purpose – as a time to be with loved ones.
Hopefully these ideas help you with your November Christmas planning so that when December arrives, you are already well on your way to being organised!
Do you have any Christmas tasks you always complete in November?