Think it’s too early to start planning for the holidays? You might be surprised.
It’s common practice for retailers to start rolling out holiday merchandise as early as September. You may also notice an uptick in the frequency of sales and discounts the closer we get to the holidays. Some people wait till we’re in the midst of the holiday season to start purchasing gifts and planning for parties, but with the holiday frenzy comes snap judgment purchases and overspending.
Taking time to prepare for the holidays before they’re here can save you a lot of time and stress. You’ll be able to sit down and enjoy the festivities knowing your early preparation helped you to save! Take a look at our early holiday prep ideas below and see what might work best for you.
- Make a List of What Makes the Holidays Stressful
If it’s difficult to tease out what causes the most holiday stress, put the kettle on, make a cup of tea and sit down to answer some of the following questions:
- Do you worry about getting the perfect present for everyone on your gift list?
- Does the frenzy of shopping closer to the holidays become overwhelming?
- Are there so many expectations and obligations that you feel you don’t have a moment to yourself?
Once you’ve written out your top stressors, you can start planning for a budget holiday to help disperse these anxieties.
- Plan out Your Holiday Travel Itinerary
Auto: The majority of us will be travelling some distance for holiday celebrations. Avoid the stress of last minute packing by making a list of what you’ll be bringing far ahead of time. Include the usual items like clothes and toiletries, and think about holiday extras like presents, baking dishes and even ingredients you might use to cook at a relative’s house.
Plane: If you’ll be flying instead of driving, now is the time to buy your ticket. The earlier you can book your flight the better the price you’ll find. This can help avert a booking disaster like not being able to reserve a seat on a packed holiday flight.
Staying Right at Home: Just because friends and relatives are coming to you doesn’t mean you can’t think about things in advance. Will your guests be staying overnight? Do you have spare cots enough for everyone? Bedding? What about toothbrushes for someone who leaves his or hers at home? Have these things in place so you can enjoy your guests’ company instead of running around getting things ready.
- Schedule Time for Cleaning and Cooking
Getting your house or flat in order for the holidays tends to be a longer affair than most of us would enjoy. Fitting in time to clean between work, holiday shopping and visiting friends and family is entirely another matter! Set aside time on your calendar specifically for cleaning now before your schedule fills up with other holiday plans.
It’s also not a bad idea to do the same for cooking and baking. Roasting a goose or whipping up scratch desserts takes considerable time and effort. Mark down time in advance so you don’t find yourself running and rushing about when it’s time to cook.
- Decide on Holiday Fare
Speaking of food, now is the perfect time to settle on the menu for your holiday feast. It’s OK to plan something a little bit special — it is the holidays after all — but avoid being overzealous. You don’t want to have an overly complicated recipe go awry. Similarly, test out any new recipes at least once before making them for your guests. You can ensure that flavours are spot on and switch recipes if they aren’t.
Get an even bigger head start on holiday treats by baking and freezing ahead of time. Baked treats like un-iced biscuits, bars and nut breads are perfect for storing in the freezer when well wrapped. They’re great to have on hand if a friend stops by for a quick visit.
Also, don’t forget to stock up early on popular holiday dry ingredients like caster sugar and flour! Supermarkets often raise prices on these staple goods closer to the holidays, so purchasing early will help you save.
For some great holiday dinner ideas check out bbcgoodfood.com.
- Setting a Solid Budget
One of the biggest stressors of the holidays is the inevitable uptick in spending. From special dinners and gifts for family to participating in Secret Santa at the office, the spending can seem never ending. Putting together a solid budget plan before you get swept away in the whirlwind of the holidays is one of the best pre-planning things you can do. It’ll help you avoid stress shopping and spending too much on gifts at the last minute.
Here are some budget plans you can easily implement for the upcoming holiday season:
Open Up a Designated Holiday Bank Account
The easiest way to stay on budget? Open an entirely separate bank account for all your holiday spending. Plan out roughly how much you want to spend on gifts and other holiday purchases and deposit that amount into the holiday account. This will help you avoid overspending and give you peace of mind knowing that you’ll be able to cover all your expenses. Plus, there’s a lesser risk of digging into your savings.
Set Up a Holiday Gift Budget
Make a list of all the family, friends, co-workers and others you intend to buy gifts for. Designate a set amount for each category and/or individual to help figure out how much to spend.
This is an excellent way to ensure you don’t accidentally forget to purchase a gift for anyone. And as gift purchases are often the heftiest spending aspect of the holidays, it’s a way to see the entirety of your gift expenditures as a whole. You might even find that you spend less by parsing things out ahead of time.
Use Cash Instead of Credit
It’s often faster to whip out a credit card for holiday purchases. This is especially so when it’s last minute shopping. But pressure-influenced purchases stack up quickly and can lead to unsavoury credit bills that linger past the holidays. Instead, set aside cash now for your future holiday spending. You can even categorise spending with separate envelopes for easier budgeting.
Set a Gift Budget with Family and Friends
You can put a halt to overspending on gifts before it even begins. Reach out to family and friends you intend on exchanging gifts with far in advance to discuss setting a price limit on gifts. Deciding on a set price is a sure-fire way of keeping gift giving (and spending) from getting out of hand. It’s also a nice way to keep gift expectations in check, since everyone will be spending the same amount.
If you’re planning in advance, why not set aside time and save money by creating handmade gifts? You can make beautiful handmade presents like teacup candles, market bags, custom laptop bags, lantern vases and more. Your friends and family will also appreciate the time and effort you spent designing the gift! See what catches your fancy with these 65 homemade holiday gift ideas.
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