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How to get ahead for Christmas

how to save money at christmas

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It’s that time of year. Decorations start appearing, a whole ‘seasonal’ aisle springs up in your local supermarket and countless people, magazines and websites start telling you how many days to go until Christmas. And we’ve only just got over Bonfire Night!

It might seem that the festive season starts earlier each year, and for many of us it brings not so much the season of goodwill but one of stress, military-style organisation and expense. But, strange as it may seem, the answer to all that is actually to start your Christmas preparations earlier!

Festive fare

Plenty of people get ahead by using savings clubs and hamper schemes – by spending a little each week throughout the year, you’ve got Christmas all bought and paid for by the end of November. But even if you’re starting now, there are plenty of ways to ease the pressure and spread the financial load.

Put one or two Christmas items into your weekly shopping basket from now on. Some chocolates here, a Christmas pud there, a box of crackers or mince pies next week and before you know it you’ve turned a spare shelf into a fully-stocked Christmas larder.

Even if you’re not that organised then you can still take a minute or two to book a Christmas delivery slot for your online shopping – they fill up fast, so it’s a great way to get ahead of the game. Or keep an eye on the pennies by using all those saved-up supermarket loyalty scheme points to pay for the (somehow massively expensive for two days’ worth of) Christmas food.

Don’t get present-tense

Start buying presents a couple of months ahead, to stagger the cost – and make sure you make full use of any birthday discount codes by buying a Christmas present at the same time, as long as you’re reasonably sure that tastes won’t change in the meantime!)

get ahead at Christmas

Sort out your kids’ online wish-lists early (Santa’s a silver surfer these days, surely, even if your kids still circle three things on every page of the Argos book!) and send them round to friends and family well in advance – you might prompt them to do the same so you can hit the shops (or the keyboard) in good time.

Pick up stocking fillers all year round, and stash them in a (secret) drawer. That way you can take advantage of sales (start at the January sales, why not?), you’ll have a heap of stuff ready well before December, and as a bonus you’ll never be without an emergency present for that forgotten birthday or last-minute invitation.

And schedule a day off to do your Christmas shopping on a weekday and without the kids in tow – it’s worth a day of your annual leave to take all the stress out of it!

Friends and relations

Consider e-cards this year for as many people as have computers. You can still keep things personal, for example with photos, but you’ll save yourself time and money, and avoid writer’s cramp. But if you prefer to put pen to paper, then start your Christmas card list off now, writing a few each evening until you’ve got them all done.

Make sure you book your annual leave in plenty of time, especially if there’s likely to be a rush of people wanting time off over Christmas – you don’t want to miss out on spending time with family and friends because you took too long deciding what days you’d need.

Plan your trips and visits to friends and family well in advance (weather and winter-bugs permitting of course). And make sure everyone knows when to expect you (or not) – so you’re not worrying about the logistics and juggling your precious time at the last minute.

And, relax…

Christmas is a magical time for children, and there’s plenty to savour for adults too – from catching up with long-distance loved ones, to cosying up with mulled wine and classic movies. It really can be ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, especially if you plan ahead, put in the work in advance, and give yourself time and space to relax at Christmas-time, mistletoe and wine and all!





About Alison McKay

About Alison McKay

Alison McKay is a charity PR professional with over 15 years' experience in full-time, part-time and jobshare roles. Since being made redundant while on maternity leave, she has divided her time between working for a local museum, freelance and volunteer writing, and being chief wrangler to a two-year-old mud-magnet and an almost-seven-year-old wannabe dog-care worker with a penchant for hair accessories. Alison's hobbies include yoga, reading cookery books and putting away just enough clean laundry to keep the pile below 3ft tall.

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