Christmas countdown – six weeks to go!

Already feeling stressed about Christmas? Give yourself a festive break and start planning ahead now with our quick time and money-saving tips.

How’s your Christmas planning going? It may seem a bit early to start getting festive, but by getting a head start on your preparations now (rather than leaving everything until you finish work for the break) you can look forward to a much less stressful Christmas holiday!

Christmas countdown – six weeks to go!

Last week, Nerissa Buckell from online gifts, homewares and accessories website Crimson Tiger started a seven-week Christmas countdown for us by suggesting you get your diary out and plan what you need to do when.

This week, she’s got eight more clever planning suggestions – plus some really handy tips for internet shopping, including some tactics that could save you money on Christmas presents!

Eight ways you can get a head start on Christmas now

From starting present wish lists to ensuring you have everything you need for guests, here are eight easy ways you can get a head start on Christmas right now.

1) Check towels and bedding

If you are going to be having people to stay with you over Christmas, it’s a good idea to do a quick stock take now and check you have everything you need for them. Make sure you have enough of:

  • Beds – is it time to renew the sofa bed, buy a new inflatable mattress, pull out bed etc?
  • Bedding – pillows, duvets, covers, sheets, blankets, sleeping bags.
  • Towels – hand and bath.

2) Check your crockery and cutlery

At any one time, what is the maximum number of people you will have sitting down and eating with you? Check that you have more than enough of the following, bearing in mind you can expect a couple of breakages between now and then.

  • Plates.
  • Glasses.
  • Mugs.
  • Bowls.
  • Cutlery.
  • Serving spoons.
  • Serving dishes.
  • Jugs (bearing in mind you might be serving gravy, cream, custard etc).
  • Napkins (fabric or paper, your choice but you will need many).

3) Buy Christmas cards

If you haven’t got them yet, go and buy some – then go through your diary and start working out who you send them to.

I keep an ongoing label list so I only have to add and delete a few addresses each year and print them off. This also saves writer’s cramp as I only have to write the card by hand and then stick a label on the envelope!

4) Get your freezer ready

Start to clear space in your freezer. Even if you are going to be away over Christmas you will still need meals to come home to.

Now is the perfect time to empty the freezer of those random bits of meat and if you can bear to consider it, defrost it. An iced up freezer can cost you an extra £100-£200 a year more to run.

I usually have great success spraying my freezer with the Lakeland Fridge and Freezer de-icer once it has been emptied into cool bags and boxes and the neighbour’s freezer and turned off at the mains.

5) Prepare extra meals

If you are making any family favourites now, make a double batch and freeze the second portion for a few easy meals around Christmas, when time is short or the desire to be in the kitchen has diminished.

6) Start a wish list

Go round the shops and get the usual catalogues, one for each young child. On a day they declare themselves bored, hand them a pair of scissors, the catalogues, a book and some glue and get them making their Christmas wish list.

Remember to place the emphasis on ‘wish’. All too often the top wanted toy is sold out by the time December comes, and some very enterprising person on eBay is selling it for eight times the original cost.

7) Get on Pinterest

For the older kids you can get them to start a Pinterest board for their wish list. It’s also very useful to create one of your own especially if you have a partner like mine who struggles with the whole gift buying thing. Just fill it up with your wishful wants and send them the link!

8) Ask friends for help

If you do find yourself with something on the list that is sold out, put an appeal out on Facebook and text your friends. While they are out doing their shopping they can keep their eyes open for what you are looking for.

Often the chain stores in the cities sell out first. Many a time when I have had to find the impossible I have been more successful in the small towns when it is showing as out of stock in my local stores as well as for delivery.

Tips for internet shopping

There’s a good chance that at least some of your Christmas purchases will be made online. Here are some tips to help you buy cleverly – and even save money when internet shopping.

  • If you can’t be in for deliveries and aren’t allowed deliveries at work, invest in a lockable parcel box that attaches to the front of your home. Amazon do a range priced from £45 to £200+.
  • If you want something that is a little out of your price range when shopping online, sign up for the company’s newsletter as often they will reward you with 15% off.
  • Another money-saving trick – some companies track that you keep putting something in your basket but do not buy it. So for a few days in a row put that item in the basket but then leave the site and you may find that after a couple of days they will send you an email with a money off voucher as an incentive to purchase.
  • If you buy something on the internet and don’t like it when it arrives, check the terms and conditions of that company. Usually you have 14 days to contact them to arrange a return or to return that item. If you return everything in your order you should have what you paid for postage refunded, but some companies ask for you to pay for the return postage (make sure you always get proof of postage).
  • If an item does not work or is damaged you have 30 days to contact a company to arrange a refund. You may find that many companies will extend that period as a goodwill gesture.
  • Companies like Crimson Tiger offer gift wrapping and hand written cards so you can have your gift sent direct to friends and family.
  • If you are ordering a lot over Christmas it’s easy to lose track, so create a simple order tracker (like below) so you know if something has not arrived and when to chase it.

order tracker-2-1

Looking for Christmas gift inspiration? You’ll find plenty of good ideas at Crimson Tiger.