Hi everyone. Welcome back. I hope you found the tips helpful in my blog last month on trying to find the balance between work and family life. I know how hard it is and hopefully you are able to use the tips that suit you to help make things easier for you.
So this month, I thought I’d talk about the obvious, the big C word that is Christmas! I know this time of year can be extremely stressful and busy for the majority of us. So much more to cram in, what with Christmas parties, the kids Christmas plays, Christmas shopping, planning the day itself, putting up the decorations (I did this on the 1st December – the most stressful day ever – I was on my own with the three kids as hubby was working – I think I might just do it myself next year probably in the middle of the night hahaha) and visiting family as well as a million other things.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas but if I can find anything that will make my life easier at this time of year then I am all for it, whether its to do with decorations, food, present buying etc.
So I thought I’d give you a few tips on various elements to hopefully help make some things a little easier either for this year or in time for next year.
1. BUYING GIFTS – okay so this is probably sometimes one of the most difficult. Some people are easy to buy for others not so. One of the things I have done over recent years is hampers! There are so many different types you can create for example food ones, drink ones, film night, baking, sleepover, pamper, sport – basically you can create one for anything. Also the best thing about doing a hamper is you can buy things throughout the year to help spread the cost. Keep an empty box to one side throughout the year with their name on it and buy a gift each month to add to it. Another one I do is create homemade vouchers, you can add a value to it if you wish too, these are great for kids especially teenagers, for example ‘A voucher to see the film of your choice’ – they can use it anytime within the next 12 months, they just need to hand it back to you when they wish to use it. It also means it doesn’t cost anything to make either.
2. DECORATIONS – now I don’t about you, but every year I can guarantee that I either need more lights or something has broken and needed replacing and I never got round to replacing it, or I can’t remember where some of the decorations are. Anyway as of last year, I started to right a list of everything we had and list of what we needed or would like to buy. We bought proper storage boxes (best thing we ever did) and labelled each box. Getting the decorations out was so much easier this year, we knew where everything was. I have wrote a list again of what I would like for next year and hopefully I will find some things in the sales ready for next year. So, buy storage boxes, label them and write your list – sorted!
3. SAVE MONEY/SPREAD THE COST – each month we save some money for Christmas, now I understand this isn’t always possible for everyone, but if you can, even if it’s £5/£10, it means you have something to go towards food or presents. Or you can buy one thing each month that can go towards Christmas for example PJ’s for the kids, a book, underwear, craft kits, at least then you can spread the cost over the year and less likely to overspend at Christmas and helps relieve the stress too. I have done this the past couple of years and it has made things easier – as I have just had to buy the kids the main few toys they want when it comes to November/December time.
4. WRAPPING – one thing I have done for years, is reuse my Christmas cards as gift tags. I cut out the pictures and store them in my Christmas box ready for next year. I haven’t bought gift tags for as long as I can remember. Also, another tip buy rolls of brown paper, in the long run its cheaper as you get so much more and it can be recycled. You can even buy some Christmas stamps and stamp the paper to make it more Chrismassy!
5. HAVE A CLEAROUT – I do this every year with my kids. In November, we have a good clear out of any toys that they no longer play with. I get them to create three piles, one for charity, one for rubbish/recycling and one for keeps. We ended up with a lot of paper that went in the recycle bin and he bag full for charity. It also gives me the chance to explain that by giving some of their toys to charity that they are helping other families.
6. FOOD – I don’t go crazy at Christmas on food because I just simply can’t afford to. I buy some chocolate treats and the food for Christmas dinner and maybe a few extra bits of party food (providing I can fit it in my freezer haha) but that’s it. We are a family of five, it’s hard enough feeding us all every month of the year and I have a budget to stick to just like most of us do. So, I tend to spread my Christmas shop over October/November/December – anything I can buy that will keep like chocolate, or I can freeze, I will buy in October, obviously the fresh stuff is last minute. I write Christmas on everything so everyone knows it can’t be eaten. Also, as it gets closer to the big day, I make anything I can in advance, the less I have to prepare on Christmas day the better.
7. PLAN – save some money each month, buy a present each month, write a list of decorations you may want or need to replace and if you can buy them in the sales, also get your Christmas cards and paper in the sales too. Write lists of the people you buy for and throughout the year write down a gift you may think of and either buy it at the time or nearer Christmas but at least you will have already have and idea for a gift. If you can do a little something each month it will take the pressure off come December.
I hope some of these may help you either for this Christmas or future Christmases. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself, easier said than done I know, because we all want it to be perfect and to
make everyone happy. If you have a budget, stick to it there’s no shame in that, whatever it is and try not go get yourselves into too much debt, otherwise January will be full of worry and stress. Christmas should be about the people you are with and the time you spend together, kids especially will remember the fun and the time you pent with them not how much money you spent.
Most of all enjoy yourself, wear your Christmas jumpers, eat the mince pies, watch the Christmas movies under the duvet on the sofa with the kids, enjoy those moments. I’m currently writing this listening to Christmas songs with the kids, all of us in our Christmas jumpers and now I’ve finished this we are going to put our first Christmas movie on – I’ve just asked my daughter and she wants A Christmas Carol (the animated one – I love this film) so I’m off to get the duvet, put the film on, make us warm drinks and it will be pizza for tea later.
So, I hope all have a wonderful Christmas, thank you for reading my blogs the past few months and I will see you on the other side in 2019! A new year – I wonder what 2019 will bring!
Have a fab Christmas and a wonderful New Year!