The Ultimate Ways to Prepare for Christmas Now!

Christmas is always bat-shit crazy for Mums. Because let’s face it, if it wasn’t for us, Christmas would not happen!
Christmas is mental for Mums.  And any single thing that I can do to make it a bit easier – is gold!  Here are my tips on how to start preparing for Christmas right now!  So that hopefully, Christmas can be a lovely time of year, instead of needing to be admitted to a psych ward on boxing day!
Start Picking Up a Few Long Life Pantry Items or Frozen Goods Now!
When you do your weekly or fortnightly grocery shop, consider picking up some items that have a long shelf life that you will use over the Christmas period.  This spreads the cost of feeding the hordes over the silly season over a few months. Good examples of grocery items to pre-buy and put away include:
Frozen Party Pies and Sausage Rolls Napkins and paper plates Frozen Vegetables Fruit Cake Bottles of wine Potato Chips Alcohol Canned Goods like tinned peas or vegetables. Icecream, frozen desserts
Note: Just make sure you check the use-by date to ensure it will last until Christmas time!
Talk to the Extended Family to Decide What is Happening and When
This is the hard one!  Getting the extended family to decide on when and where celebrations will be held.  But if you have this information, you can at least start planning for it.  If at all possible, try not to schedule more than one large family dinner on Christmas Day, see if the family will be willing to perhaps do a celebration on Boxing Day.  Dragging cranky children from place to place on Christmas Day when they just want to be home playing with their new toys is hard – on you and the kids.

If your family are being obstinate and difficult, tell them you need to start planning now so that the kids can have a great Christmas.

Many families have one celebration with one side of the family one year, and the other side the next year.

Note: Family is hard – but remember, the kids come first!!!!!
Pick Up a Gift Card or Two When Shopping or Out and About
$5 or $10 Gift Cards make for an easy and well received Christmas gifts for neighbors, friends or extended families.  Not only that, if you buy a gift card from the supermarket every time you shop, you can then use these cards yourself for the big Christmas shop that needs to be done in December…. It’s like forced savings!

You can pick up gift cards at the checkout from almost all supermarkets – just ask!
Talk to the Family about Gift Giving
I don’t think everyone should be buying Christmas gifts for every person in the family.  Not only is this financially stressful, it just isn’t necessary.  Personally, I think extended families should only buy for kids under 12 – and then only have a limit.

But if your family are into gift giving – perhaps consider having a maximum amount (say $5 or $10) – or hand-made gifts, or even think about a Christ-Kindle  – where every family members name is put into a hat and everyone buys just one gift for that secret person!

Although gift giving can be a bone of contention for most families, if you start talking about it now – it could save you a lot of money and stress in the long-run.

Gift Cards are a great gift idea especially as you can get a great deals in the after Christmas sales!

Some ideas for Gift Cards include:
Australia: Angus & Robertson Bookworld Australia Post carries a huge range of Gift Cards including JB HIFi, Sportsgirl and Pre-paid Visa Cards Coles and Myer Gift Cards Target Gift Card United States: Gift Card Mall Walmart iTunes   Set up a Calendar of Events for the Silly Season
Coming into December, the whole family is busy.  With the end of school concerts, family get-togethers and parties, it can be really hard to keep a good check of what is coming up and when.  Think about printing a large calendar (or printing two A4 calendars and putting them together) to stick somewhere you will see every day (I particularly like the front of the fridge – because all family members go there a few times a day!).  Knowing what you have coming up makes it easy for you to plan ahead, and not double-booking yourself which causes stress!

Another idea is that you can use the front of the fridge (white fridge or stainless steel) as a whiteboard!  Just grab the whiteboard markers (because permanent will have you cursing to get the stuff off!) – and start writing dates and times!
Print Off a Christmas Gift List
We have a free Christmas Gift List pinnable (download here) so that you can plan ahead what gifts you have, what you need and your budget.  Ever thought of a great idea of what to get someone and then forgot (yep me too!) – this will help you out!  Keep it out of sight though!

Via Living Well Mom
Think About Your Christmas Menu In Advance
A full hot Christmas dinner with all the trimmings might be great for the places in the world that are cold at Christmas time, but if it is hotter than the sun at your place on Christmas Day like it is here in Australia, then think about your menu and what is do-able or easy to achieve.  Seafood is a popular choice in Australia, as is a barbecue lunch with fancy salads and a cold dessert.

Think about your menu now, and plan what ingredients you can purchase in advance, what you have to order, and how you can make your life easier before Christmas by doing as much pre-preparing as humanly possible!

We will be publishing a few different Christmas menu’s in the next few weeks, so keep checking back so you can download them (FREE) to help you!

Quick Tip:  Order a ham, turkey or seafood well in advance so you don’t miss out!
10 Complete Christmas Dinner Menus 20 Fabulous Side Dishes for a Hot Christmas Dinner 20 Fancy Dessert Ideas for a Formal Christmas Dinner Start Baking Items You Can Freeze in Advance
Most un-iced cakes and biscuits can easily be frozen up to two months in advance.  So if you have a free weekend, get baking now!!!  Just remember to double-wrap them in plastic wrap to keep the air out and prevent freezer burn.

Items that freeze really well include:
Cookie Dough Cakes Muffins Christmas Puddings Rum Balls Lasagnes
We highly recommend you pick up a book on freezing food in advance.  Our pick is Once a Month Cooking by Jody Allen.

Once a Month Cooking is available from Angus & Robertson Put Away Some Cash for Big Purchases
If you have decided on a budget or already chosen what you are going to give the kids and partner for Christmas, why now put those items on layby and start paying them off now, or even start putting aside a little bit of money every day so you will have enough for Christmas.

This doesn’t have to be bulk cash.  Personally, I’ve set up my bank account to take $10 a day out of my bank account and put it into a separate account.  I also use the Acorns App, which is FANTASTIC as it rounds up any day to day purchases I make, and puts that round up into the stockmarket until I decide to take it out.  Sounds confusing but it isn’t really.  For examples, if I buy a coffee for $4.30, the Acorns App will round up the 70c to take the purchase up to $5 – and will place that 70c into the stockmarket where it will (hopefully) increase until I need it.  You can also set it up to take out a few dollars from your bank account per day so it is a great way to save money, fairly harmlessly.

It is a nifty way to save for Christmas without having to transfer bulk cash when you get paid when you need it the most (cause that hurts!).
Drag Out the Christmas Decorations
See what is good, what needs to go in the bin.  Test the fairy lights and see that they still work.  Use what you do have to decide on a colour scheme! It’s fun to change up your Christmas Tree and Decoration colours year to year.  Some beautiful colours to try include:
Green & Red Purple & Silver White Christmas Tree with Black decorations Blue & Silver
Once you have decided on the colour, you can start picking up the baubles and tinsel wherever you can!

Write a List of All the Family You Want to Send an Electronic Christmas Card to
Christmas cards are really just for the kids!  These days, sending an electronic Chrismas card or just an email with all your family has been up to for the last year is sufficient.  Do up a template in Word or similar, and just amend each copy depending on who you are sending it to.

This way, you are still keeping in contact with extended family, but as you know, it is impossible to see them all at Christmas time.

Great electronic Christmas cards can be done through places like:
Jib Jab (perhaps my favorite!)
(I’ll find more!)
Check Out the Cheap Shops for Boxes, Wrapping Paper, Christmas Cards and Ribbon
Buying fancy Christmas paper is really a waste then kids just rip it up and it ends up in the bin.  Check out your local cheap shop instead!  Not only do they have paper, but they have boxes and bags (which I personally adore as they are re-useable) and cheap ribbons too.

An alternative to that, consider wrapping gifts in useful items, like a t-shirt or tea-towel and then decorate with twine.

On Christmas Cards, it seems many grown-ups don’t bother with them anymore, but the kids still find it fun to give them out to their friends.  So grab a box of 40 or so Christmas Cards from the cheap shops, and sit down with the kids to write them out to their friends!

Another great idea is to totally ditch the Christmas paper and just buy brown paper, and have the kids decorate with ribbon and markers and stamps!

Quick Tip:  Having a stash of batteries at home is a great idea – as not all toys or electrical goods automatically have them!

Buy Gifts Online To Save Time
Why leave the house and fight with other people to get to the shops when you can shop from the comfort of your bed with your mobile phone!  I adore online shopping, and usually you get a better deal as it is easy to shop around, and many online stores offer an incentive to buy online, which usually cancels out the postage factor!

Plus another advantage is that many online stores will also wrap the gift for you for free!  So take advantage of that!

Check out our Christmas Gift Guides for all members of the family:
Gifts for Mums Gifts for Dads 100 Christmas Gifts Under $10 Gifts for High School Boys Gifts for Primary School Aged Boys Gifts for Primary School Aged Girls Subscription Boxes that Are All the Rage

Clean Out the Kids Toys and Wardrobe
New toys and clothing are always an evitable gift for kids.  So a good idea is to clean out all the toys and clothing that the kids no longer use, and donate them to charity.  By doing this early, you allow enough for those donations to get to who they need to, and to make more room for the new stuff the kids will receive.

Plus it feels lovely and clean to have a bit of a Spring Clean before Christmas time.

Quick Tip:

Keep a note of all the clothing and shoe sizes of the kids you are buy for.  And if you are buying clothing for Christmas gifts, always buy a size larger than required so it will last them that little bit longer.  Most kids have a growth spurt over the Christmas period!
Plan a Homemade Gift Day – and Get the Kids Involved
Homemade Gifts by the kids are always appreciated by teachers and Grandparents.  Have a good look at places like Pinterest and find an age-appropriate craft gift that the kids can make and wrap now, to be put under the Christmas tree when it goes up.

Examples of easy gifts to make include:
Homemade Spearmint Sugar Scrub Creating an Art and Craft Box Gift Foods (such as Rum Balls, Toffee, pickled onions, Mars Bar Slice, Cookie Mix in a Jar) Cookie Mix in a Jar is a great idea of a Homemade Gift! Need Christmas Cash, Sell Items You No Longer Need
I don’t think I’ve ever met a family that hasn’t felt truly poor just before Christmas.  It is expensive!  Seeing we have a bit of time between now and then, why not go through your shed, spare room, kids toys and clothing and the tv cabinet and find items that you no longer need or use.  Choice Magazine reported recently that the average family has $5400.00 worth of goods they don’t use lying around the average house!  That is a load of money that will pay for the very best of Christmases!

Use your local free Buy Swap and Sell Facebook Pages to list your items (as they are local and free to list) – and start getting rid of them now!

To make the most on every item, make sure it is clean, the photographs are clear and well lit.  If the item doesn’t sell within a few days, you can always consider slightly lowering the price until it does go.  Check other websites like Ebay and Gumtree to see what similar items are selling for. Remember the closer to Christmas you are, the less money people have to spend, to start now!
Use Deal Sites to Buy Gifts – But Allow Time for Delivery
You can often buy branded gifts for up to 70% off if you look through deal sites.  The only negative is that sometimes these deal sites do take awhile to send through the item, but if you see it now, grab it when it is on sale and you have plenty of time to allow for delivery (and then stashing it somewhere safe!).   Deal sites are also great places to get ideas on what to buy for various members of the family!

Great deal sites to try include:
Ozsale Catch of the Day Scoopon Wrap Gifts as You Receive Them
There is nothing worse than being up until 2am on Christmas morning wrapping gifts!  Set aside 15 minutes in the weeks coming up to Christmas to wrap as you go. Make sure you write out a tag (or just write down who the gift is for in permanent marker) because it is so easy to forget what gift is for who.
20 Gorgeous Gift Wrapping Ideas for Christmas

Use Home Delivery for Last Minute Christmas Items (but book in advance)
Most of the Christmas rush comes on Christmas Eve or the night before that, when Mums are busy buying fresh cream, custard, bread rolls etc.  All those last minute items that just can’t be bought in advance.  But rather than getting into a fist-fight with other shoppers in the long lines, spend a bit of extra money having the last minute items delivered.

Most large supermarket chains offer a home delivery option and provided you organise this in advance and you can be home to receive the delivery, this is a great stress-free way to ensure you get everything you need without the last minute stress!

Supermarkets in Australia that do home delivery include:
Woolworths Coles We will be adding to this list as we find more amazing hints and tips on how to pre-plan for Christmas, so don’t forget to keep checking back for more information! #Budgeting #Money #PreparingForXmas #PreparingForChristmas #ChristmasMenu
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