The best piece of advice is to plan ahead and work out when you’re going to make time for the gift buying and preparations, as well as how you’re going to afford to pay for them.
Most people approach Christmas with a mixture of excitement… and dread. But there are ways to make your festive season a calm and enjoyable one.
Budgeting for Christmas: Avoid the post-Christmas financial hangover by saving up for the big event throughout the year. Make a budget and try to remember the hidden expenses, such as food and overseas calls. Then work out how much you can put aside each month to pay for it. If you realise you’re not realistically going to be able to save enough, then now’s the time to adjust your budget. Christmas Club accounts are a good idea if you find it hard not to spend your nest egg in advance.
Gifts: Presents can be very costly, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a large family and lots of friends. If budgets are generally tight you may find your loved ones are happy to negotiate a change in your present-buying habits, such as only buying gifts for the children, or sticking to a small budget per present, or maybe even arranging a Secret Santa or Kris Kringle, so each person buys only for one other person in the group.
Christmas shopping: Recent research has shown that around 60 per cent of Australians don’t enjoy Christmas shopping and nearly 75 per cent often come home from an expedition to the mall empty-handed. Don’t let this happen to you - organise your shopping trip and make a list of all the gifts you want to buy before you go to avoid aimless wandering. Shopping early is sensible and ensures that you don’t have a mad dash at the last minute. That said, stocking up on a few extra boxes of chocolates or general gifts can save your skin if you realise you’ve forgotten someone on New Year’s Eve. Internet shopping can really come into its own here – especially if the service includes gift-wrapping.
Talking turkey: Christmas dinner can be an elaborate production and is best not attempted alone! The key here is to delegate – even the kids can do something to help. Buy non-perishables in advance to cut down on the last-minute food shopping, and consider internet delivery to avoid the supermarket altogether. Order the turkey and any other special foods well in advance and if you’re eating out, make sure you book the table in plenty of time. If you’re eating at home, there’s no need to make life hard for yourself – think about a more casual style of Christmas meal, perhaps a buffet, and invite your guests to bring a platter so the work doesn’t all fall to one person.
Other stress-busters: Make a Christmas card list and keep it in a safe place so that you can refer to it - and add to it - year after year. Plan to write your Christmas cards in early December - book a date in your diary. Don’t forget that Christmas cards with 'card only' marked on the envelope can be posted at a reduced rate in November and December. Overseas mail at Christmas time takes longer to arrive, so arrange to send cards or presents in the first half of December to avoid disappointments (and long queues at the post office). Save money on Christmas wrapping by buying cards, paper and ribbon in the post-Christmas sales and putting them away for next year.
Make yours a happy Christmas!