How to have an amazing Christmas, without much effort or expense!
Here’s where you’ll get to know me a bit better – I am lazy when it comes to Christmas. Last year it was at my best friend’s mums house, other years it’s been at my parents or when I was married sometimes at my now ex-husband’s family home. In short, I don’t host Christmas. The only time I did was 2015, 4 days after I moved to Melbourne from Canberra plus I had a birthday party to put on in between arriving in Melbourne and Christmas. That’s right, in 5 days I moved 8 hours from my home to a new home, threw a birthday party and did Christmas.
I know Christmas is ages away, but every year I hear of people not being ready, not having the money and getting stressed out. It comes at the same time every year, yet more often than not it ends up a stressful and expensive time of year. Disclosure, there are a few affiliate links for things I use in this post.
So here is my lazy guide to Christmas preparations!
1.) Step AWAY from Pinterest!
Stop the comparison to the picture-perfect Pinterest Christmas. It’s probably fake, took hours upon hours to stage and the kids were nowhere to be seen when photos were being taken.
Get real, work out the Christmas you want, relax and have fun!
(If a Pinterest perfect Christmas is your idea of fun, by all means, go crazy!)
2.) Get your money sorted!
I know money is tight in many households. Set a budget for Christmas and stick to it. How much do you want to or can you afford to spend on Christmas? Factor in gifts, food, travel and time off work (especially if you are casual).
Set up a Christmas account (I use ING and if you sign up with the code CNW116 at https://www.ingdirect.com.au/everyday-banking.html you can usually get a $100 bonus).
Transfer a set amount each week or payday to this account to use for Christmas.
If you can’t afford to put aside any money right now, it’s not going to get easier at Christmas. However, there are ways you can make extra money from now until then to help such as online surveys (Swagbucks and Octopus Group have been my best earners), collecting points and gift cards from reward programs (a full list of ones I’ve used are here) or try any of the 51 ways to make money from home. Lastly, check out how to get money for Christmas.
Next, work out how to make it work. Years ago I used to make gifts and buy presents throughout the year. Then people kept having babies and being one of 9 kids already, it means we have a gazillion nieces and nephews. Can you imagine how big Christmas looks on my side of the family? Add to that my ex husband was Polynesian, so he had a billion relatives on his side too.
Now, instead of everyone buying a gift for everyone, we limit gifts. Sometimes it’s a Kris Kringle style thing, but mostly, adults don’t buy for each other and nieces and nephews have their names selected out of a hat for one larger gift instead of 100 small gifts. It’s cheaper, easier and the kids get something better that will last longer instead of 100 plastic things that break on Boxing Day.
If you don’t get the money side of Christmas worked out early, it can be difficult and you can easily overspend.
Lazy Christmas Planning
I have a note on my phone with who I am buying for and what I think I’ll get. I now often shop the week before Christmas too. I either order online or if I do go in, I try to do it all at once.
You could use an app or online organisational tool such as Evernote or Asana to create folders and lists for everything you need for Christmas such as:
– Gifts: Write a list of who you need to buy for, what the budget is, ideas you might buy or make for them and a column for when you have made or bought their present.
– Food/Recipes: Don’t host if you can avoid it. If you do host, do a potluck and get everyone to bring something. A favourite for events I got to has been this choc ripple cake and it is so easy! Or offer to do punch, it’s literally tipping bottles of liquid into a big bowl or container.
If you decide to do it all, have a plan, a budget and work out what to do with leftovers ahead of time. (More on that in another post).
– Decorations: Decorate with a kid theme. Get all the kids ‘art and craft’ from the years and throw that around as decoration. Easy, cheap and the kids will be so proud. Use their artwork as wrapping paper too!
– Cards: Stop sending Christmas cards. Please!
– Craft Ideas: Check out Pinterest for Christmas craft ideas such as a roll of butchers paper, stamps made from cut potatoes and paint for kids to make wrapping paper.
– Travel Plans: Are you at home for Christmas or do you need to travel? If you are travelling, what are your arrangements? The sooner you book, the cheaper and easier it is. Try Airbnb for accommodation, I use it all the time now and with my link, you get $76 credit to use.
– Wrapping: Use the kids artwork or do butchers paper as suggested.
– Advent Calendar: Growing up we had a fabric advent calendar with pockets that could be reused each year. Lollies like M&M’s were put in the pockets (one each). We would spend a Monday night in December writing notes to go in the calendar and it was a Christmas tradition we looked forward to each year. The notes had on them things we had to do that day such as a random act of kindness, smile at 3 people, sing a Christmas carol etc.
What does Christmas look like in my house?
My kids are 8 and 9 now, so they are super keen on Christmas. A few of our traditions include:
– They pick a decoration from Myer. These decorations will be theirs when they move out.
– We see lights/Christmas decorations. In Canberra we went to specific areas, in Melbourne we did the Myer Christmas display and walked around at night.
– Kids decorate the tree.
– Stockings have something to eat, something to read, something to do and something to drink.
– Travel! We usually travel at Christmas either to see family or have time for ourselves.
– Breakfast of pancakes, fruit, bacon, eggs and maple syrup is the norm plus chocolate milk.
I want Christmas to be as laid back, fun and enjoyable for all as it possibly can be. I don’t plan from 6 months out other than budgeting for it.
What do you do for Christmas?