Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year. A day that means a lot to us. It is a time for family bonding, exchanging gifts, renewing friendships and for others a religious holiday. It is a time meant to celebrate peace and hope, but it has been overshadowed by the stress of preparing for the big day.
No matter what Christmas means to you, it’s a day that you will be spending money, especially if you have kids and if you haven’t started preparing, now is a great time to start.
To keep up with the almost endless itinerary of activities, here’s our checklist to help you on the way. This checklist will help you get organised and enjoy a stress-free Christmas.
Sort out travel
Will you be travelling or hosting everyone at your house?
Start planning as early as September and ensure your holiday plans are set in stone. If you’ll be hosting, call around and find out when your guests will be arriving or visiting.
Allow sufficient travel time for guests.
Start planning on picking them from the airport. You’ll be using your car often to pick up visiting guests among other things, so the last thing you want at this time is car troubles. Check the oil level and tires and service your car in preparation. Ensure you have a full tank as stations are usually lax over the break.
Alternatively, you can book a ride to bring your guests over. Pay extra so that you can get a refund for cancellation.
Also, plan out where they will be sleeping when they arrive and other things they may need like bedsheets, towels, and meals. After all, you all need to eat on the run-up to the big day.
Start planning for gifts
Start thinking about gifts.
Create a list of all the people you want to purchase gifts for and start brainstorming ideas for each person. This will ensure you get enough gifts for everyone. Buying gifts early is crucial if you want to be sure your budget can cover other expenses.
Don’t forget practical fun gifts like soaps, spices as well as educational gifts like books, pens, and other stationery for the children. If you are finding it hard to get gifts for someone, you can reach out to them or their friends to know what might interest them. Ask the children to make a Santa wish list to see what they would want.
Remember to keep aside emergency gifts like bottles of chocolate boxes so you always have something ready for an unexpected situation or a surprise guest.
Create a Christmas budget
What’s a checklist without a budget? Make a holiday budget you can commit to. As you plan your budget, consider the costs of gifts, decorations, travel, holiday cards, hair and nail appointments, train or flight tickets, meals and more.
Checking prices online will allow you to gauge the cost of everything.
Choose a fixed amount you are sure to have safely let go from your bank account by January 1.
Review your gift list and ask yourself what each person values. When you are done, go back and see whom you can forego buying expensive gifts and give them handmade gifts or baked goods instead.
Your overall budget should be well thought out.
Many people let Christmas come at them without being prepared. It’s not too late to start a designated Christmas savings account so that you can take on the season knowing you have the finances for it.
Start chucking a fixed percentage of money into your Christmas savings account every week or month.
You don’t have to know exactly what you have to buy now but having a saving goal towards Christmas will make everything clearer.
Plan your shopping
Write out your shopping lists and plan out the things you need to get and how you want to get them.
Shop for essential nonperishable items online as you will find many bargains as holidays draw closer.
Take advantage of these discounts to save on shopping expenses.
Shopping online will let you avoid in-store crowds as well. However, when shopping online, keep with your budget so you don’t get tempted to splash on things you don’t need because they are cheap.
When you need to get perishable items, do that in-store.
Decide what you’ll be cooking
Note how many people you’ll be cooking for, their dietary restrictions, and how to accommodate them.
Create a meal plan by taking into consideration the dishes your family members like and dislike. When you’ve concluded this, run this tentative menu by one or two people to get ingredient suggestions before you finalize it.
Then make a cooking timeline which will indicate the items you can cook a few days in advance and the ones to freeze until the day.
Also, decide which stores to buy ingredients from. Some stores require ordering a fresh turkey or ham up to 10 days ahead. If any of these are in your menu, check with your local grocery store to see when and how to place this order.
Do the decorations
This is the favourite part of everyone’s festive period. Get the decorations out from their hiding place, and decide if you’d want to buy more this year. Unbox those ornaments, yard decorations, lights, tinsel and everything you need to make your home a winter wonderland.
Get the whole family involved in the decoration and make it a truly enjoyable festive experience. If you prefer a real tree over an artificial one, shop days beforehand so the branches can drop off before decorating them.
As you dress your tree, bring out your gold-rimmed goblets, washed and dried linens and set your table
TIP- Buy decorations from the pound or dollar stores to save money. This means you can have new decorations every year and give the old ones to charity or chuck them away if you no longer need them.
Clean the home and prepare
Begin to clear your home, preferably from the beginning of December.
Focus on low-traffic areas and leaving the heavily trafficked rooms for last.
Get rid of old or expired items and give the ones that might still be useful to charity.
Regift old or unopened gifts.
Prepare for guests by organizing linens for each guest from now through Christmas. Take out the platters and serving dishes from the storage and have them cleaned and set the dining room table a few days in advance.
When your home is clean and organized, you’ll appreciate the festive decorations more.
Have the kids ready
If you plan to take family photos on Christmas Day, ensure everyone, especially the kids have the right things to wear.
If you are planning on using old clothing, make sure they are clean and still fit.
As you stock during your Christmas shopping, add in the accoutrements for the children’s video games and toy cars.
Plan the entertainment
Ease the Christmas excitement with holiday-themed activities like a Christmas movie marathon which are jolly, and set the family in the holiday mood.
Make sleepover arrangements, build a snowman, decorate cookies, make gingerbread houses, play games, or try out many other fun things that will keep everyone entertained before and on Christmas day.
Let's wrap up
Whether you are planning an intimate Christmas with your closest family and friends or something bigger, having a Christmas countdown checklist ensures you have everything in order and prepared for a great holiday season. You don’t want to join the end of year rushed, so a list will help you to be relaxed and organised and make the best of the season with those you love. To help you save in time for Christmas join our 12 weeks debt-free Christmas challenge here