The most wonderful time of the year is just around the corner! As the temperature drops, the nights grow longer and towns across the country drape Christmas lights along their high streets, it’s hard to deny the joy that the festive season brings.
There is a multitude of ways in which people prepare for Christmas, from the slow and steady present buyer who begins scouting the shops in September to the last-minute, Christmas Eve rush of many across the nation. However, the penultimate month of the year is the best time to get sorted.
We heard from Heather from the blog Of Beauty and Nothingness who shared this with us: "My most important step when it comes to Christmas preparation is planning, especially in terms of gift buying. I am one of those people who will have all of my Christmas shopping done by October and wrapped by November. The key is to plan ahead, write a list of everyone would want to buy for and to shop in the sales all year round."
Whether you’re looking for tips to stay on top of your wrapping, advice to avoid overstuffing your fridge, freezer and cupboards with seasonal snacks, or are simply hoping to pick up some tips to prevent your usual pre-Christmas scan of the Argos catalogue for inspiration, take a look at this guide for some help.
"My most important step when it comes to Christmas preparation is to start as early as possible", shares Chloe from the blog I'm Just a Girl. "I think saving for Christmas shopping all year round is a great piece of advice to bear in mind as it means that the costs aren't quite as overwhelming once December 1st hits. I would also advice enlisting the help of family members if you're going to be hosting Christmas Dinner so that not all the responsibility is on your shoulders!"
Although giving presents has become one of the most important elements of Christmas, it’s important to remember Christmas as a time for spending time with loved ones, regardless of whether you managed to pick-up the latest gadgets for your grandchildren. That being said, being organised and sorting out what presents you’re planning can save you a lot of stress later on – ‘tis the season for giving after all!
Melanie from the blog Melanie’s Fab Finds shared some tips for when it comes to buying gifts: “Advance planning and buying always work well for me. In terms of gifts, I buy throughout the year. Don't you sometimes see the perfect items for a friend after their birthday and think it's a shame that I've just seen this as they'd have loved it? Well, I think ahead, buy the item for Christmas and it's one less item or 15 after a few months that I need to buy. I keep lists of those I am buying for and what I have bought them once I get it so I can watch the people being ticked off my list and feel stress levels floating away. I don't like last-minute panics, and this allows me to avoid them. Of course, it doesn't stop the hubby wanting a gift for a friend last minute, but then if that's all I have to worry about it's fine.”
Madeline from the blog This Glorious Life agrees that writing lists is helpful in the gift buying process: The most important step for me when it comes to planning for Christmas is writing it all down. I use google sheets to create lists of who I need to buy presents for, ideas of what they might like, budgets and so on. Then I update it when I buy and wrap things, so I know where I am with everything. Without these lists, I would lose track of everything that needs to be done!”
The month before Christmas is the perfect time to start formulating ideas for what you need to buy. This means you’ll be able to take advantage of any offers that shops may have to entice buyers through their doors. Supporting local retailers during this busy season and heading to the high street is a great place to start, especially if you’re looking for one-of-a-kind homewares or accessories. However, you can also pick up some great branded options from supermarkets whilst doing your weekly shop.
Buying presents whilst picking up food for your Christmas dinner is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. Plus, with your food out of sight, out of mind, you'll have more time to celebrate the big day with everyone. this is something that Lauren from the blog Laureny Loves agrees: "For me the most important step when it comes to Christmas prep is getting as much food sorted for Christmas dinner the day before. Getting food prepared in advance really takes the stress out of the day which means you can have fun. It allows you to spend as much time with family on Christmas Day rather than spending all your time in the kitchen!"
If you use a curved stair lift around your home due to low mobility, the internet is an invaluable tool that can help make Christmas shopping easy. Online shopping markets such as Amazon are a great place to start if you’re hoping to pick up a few different things for various family members. Alternatively, your usual go-to shops probably have an online store, so head to Google and have a search.
This is something that is recommended by Olivia from Dungarees and Donuts: “Trying to make your way through busy shops in December is never fun. Neither is leaving gift buying until the last minute, the stress can be a lot. As soon as it turns into December, everyone goes crazy for Christmas. Preparing in advance allows you to enjoy the festivities throughout December at your own pace. Alternatively, I'd recommend shopping online, do this around Black Friday for bigger purchases. Buying online is a great alternative, however, you need to do it early enough to make sure everything arrives on time.”
"I love Christmas but the key to a successful Christmas is all in the preparation and giving yourself plenty of time", shares Emma from the blog Life According to Mrs Shilts. If you have time to plan, you can think about all the logistics from budgeting to gift shopping, decorating the house and wrapping the presents, buying and preparing the Christmas food. I like to plan in advance as if you have time, you can usually work around any issues you may face.
Sarah from Run, Jump, Scrap agrees: "My biggest Christmas preparation is to have wrapped up all Christmas presents and have written all cards before Christmas Eve! For me, the last minute jobs are bringing all the presents downstairs and arranged under the tree and putting in my kid's stockings. I don't want to have panic present wrapping! Instead, I prefer to enjoy a Christmas film and have a nice glass of wine, getting excited for present opening on Christmas morning."
If you have a big family, or perhaps a big circle of friends, the list of people you wish to buy for can sometimes seem overwhelming, so why not consider a game of Secret Santa? This is a great way for everyone in the group to feel valued without the need to stretch your Christmas budget too far. Setting a budget for the gift also means that you won’t need to feel guilty about not meeting your friend’s standard of gift giving, particularly if they’ve set the bar high following last year’s luxury present.
When it comes to purchasing gifts, it is important to remember that it’s the thought that counts. Although gift giving has become integral to the holiday, your friends and family are more likely to value something small that means something rather than lots of smaller presents “just because”. Setting a budget is a good way to not get carried away and also makes the planning process easier. Writing down the list of names you need to buy for, as well as how much you can spend, can also help.
If you’re a grandparent, it may be tempting to spoil the little one; however, you should consult with their parents first before splashing the cash on more expensive items. Christmas can be a tough time for some, especially when it comes to exceeding expectations, so checking that they are okay with what you’d like to buy will probably be appreciated. Additionally, you should take into consideration that smaller children are less likely to understand the monetary value of their presents and will be happy receiving a few, cheaper toys to play with.