Yes, I know it’s December 28th and you’re probably still ploughing through all the chocolate, cheese and leftovers. And deservedly so! But if you found this Christmas stressful and have vowed to be more organised next year, then here are a few simple things you can do in that lull between Christmas and New Year in preparation.
December is always a crazy month for me, not just because of Christmas, but also because, as I have written previously, it is birthday season among my family and friends, so I have to be organised. I’m not in any way trying to come across as annoyingly smug, but I’m always pretty much done with all the shopping and wrapping by the end of November. I have to be, because otherwise there just isn’t time in December and I’ve learned from experience that I can’t cope with the stress overload.
With that in mind, I thought it might be helpful to share a few of my tips in the hope it will help others. These are all really simple things you can put into action now, that won’t take long at all, but will hopefully make a difference for future Christmases.
Are there any organisational tips you’d like to share with others hoping to be make Christmas a bit less stressful?
1. Open a Christmas savings account and set up a monthly direct debit
Christmas is expensive! Presents, food, festive days out… it all adds up. The last few years, I’ve had a dedicated Christmas savings account where I pay in a set amount by direct debit each month. It makes it so much more affordable than trying to pay for it all at once. Work out how much Christmas cost you this year. Divide by 12 and set up a monthly payment for that amount. (Or whatever you can reasonably afford for the next few months. You can always up it later in the year.)
2. Buy your cards and wrapping paper now
I do this every year – my local supermarket currently has cards at 1/3 of their usual price, paper at 50p-£1 a roll, and crackers and decorations at less than half price. Every year I head to the supermarket on December 27th or 28th to stock up, and it’s all squirrelled away in the Christmas corner of my attic until next year. Make sure you remember where you have put it all! Set a reminder on your phone, or in your diary if you think you’re likely to forget.
3. Sign up to all the toy stores’ email lists
We had some bargains when it came to Christmas shopping for toys, thanks to being on the mailing list for all the big stores. The Hot Wheels tracks my sons have been raving about all year were massively reduced in the Smyths sale in October; if we spent a certain amount on Sylvanian Families (which my daughter loves) in, we got a free car. Smyths and The Entertainer both sent me various discount vouchers for money off if you spent a certain amount. We saved a fortune!
4. Make sure you have all your store loyalty cards in order
I managed to exchange my Sainsbury’s vouchers for double their value of toy vouchers, which made my daughter’s Shopkins toys an absolute bargain. I rarely do a full shop in Sainsbury’s but there’s a small branch near where we live and I’m often nipping in for milk/bread/bits and pieces between main shops. Those points certainly added up over the year! Tesco also do a Clubcard exchange at various times during the year, where you can double the value for use on toys or clothes. Every Christmas, we also exchange our Tesco points for vouchers for Pizza Express and the cinema, giving us a ‘free’ festive family day out.
5. Set a reminder on your phone now to book early for Christmas events you missed out on this year
I’ve had quite a few friends tell me they missed out on events they wanted to see, or the Santa they wanted to visit had sold out by the time they got around to booking. Father Christmas at Pugh’s and Cardiff Castle, for example, both usually sell out in October. Set a reminder on your phone now, or make a note in your diary or calendar for the start of October (and make sure it repeats that reminder every week), to book early. Also sign up to the mailing lists for venues you are interested in so that you are the first to hear when tickets go on sale. (For those of you in Cardiff looking for inspiration of what you may have missed this year, see my bumper Christmas events guide.)
6. Make a note of things you need to buy for next Christmas now
Maybe you realised too late that you didn’t have enough glasses/cutlery/serving platters. Or maybe you really wanted to do Elf on the Shelf/ a Christmas Eve box/ a Christmas book advent etc but weren’t organised enough. Again, set a reminder on your phone or in your diary for October, or add it to your Amazon buy later basket, as chances are, you’ll forget and have the same last-minute panic as this year.
7. Pick up food recycling and regular recycling bags and store them with your Christmas stuff
I’ve seen a few comments on Facebook from friends desperate for more recycling bags over the festive season, wondering where they can get them from when half the usual places you’d pick them up are closed. In fact, I delivered some to one of my friends yesterday because she was overflowing with wrapping paper and toy boxes. Grab an extra roll of recycling bags as soon as you can and put it with your Christmas stuff.
Are there any organisational tips you’d share with others looking to be make next Christmas less stressful?