Don’t you love it when your Christmas plans go out the window? Mine changed drastically this week due to circumstances outside of my control which means now instead of doing nothing but a few gifts, I am now doing everything! I have a teeny tiny budget, plus have 2 birthdays in between, oh, and it is not at my house, it is an 8 hour drive away. It is still going to be awesome, however, with only 10 days until Christmas, I have to get cracking and have no supplies from home to draw on.
Step 1: Make a list!
Work out what you need to do, buy, prepare for etc. Food, gifts, decorations, activities, how do you want your Christmas?
On my list now is:
– ALL Christmas meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner
– Decorations: a tree, wrapping paper, cards, table settings etc.
– Christmas activities
Step 2: Budget!
Now you know what you need to do, how much do you have? Realistically, I want to spend as little as possible with it still being a lot of fun. With no supplies, not even pantry staples to use, I have quite a task on my hands.
Without a budget it is easy to throw items in your trolley and blow your credit card for this one day. Set your budget and stick to it!
Step 3: Plan for each item on your list
With each item on your list, create a plan of action. Mine will look like this:
Food: Check Pinterest for fun ideas (we are having pancake snowmen for breakfast, some fruit platters, mini treats like cupcakes, a small meat platter and other nibbles for the day. Mostly snack type food we can keep after.) Create the shopping list and work out when to shop.
Tip for food – If you aren’t set on a particular menu for Christmas, going into the shops last minute on Christmas Eve can see you score some fantastic bargains with food such as meat, fresh produce and Christmas items. I am not set on the menu and will likely do this.)
Decorations: Simple is your new BFF! Go with a simple colour theme, usually I like colour and we have used different items from our Christmas stash throughout the year.
Thankfully, this week I got these amazingly cute sets from Smash, which you can get at Coles to serve our Christmas feast in. My kids adore them and they will look great on the table. They are durable plastic, easy to wash, come in a few designs and make a great addition to the Christmas table.
With such simple, elegant designs, it will add to the Christmas feel without being overwhelming. The other set below could be used for a Mexican themed night another time too! Think outside the box when doing your Christmas decorations.
With plates, platters and bowls sorted, my other decorations include a tree (I am making one when I get there out of tinsel, coat hangers and lights I will show later), our stockings and Santa sacks (my kids get their Santa gifts in a sack they lay out each year, then other gifts are placed under the tree), wrapping paper and some table settings. I plan on using the food as the main feature on the table.
Tip for decorations: make what you can, check op shops for lots of Christmas items, often brands new, check the bargain areas of supermarkets and local stores. Think outside the box for what can be repurposed or reused. Red, Green and Gold are often associated with Christmas, but if you get plainer items you can decorate with these colours for other things as well, making your decorations go further.
Gifts: Time is not my friend this year. I didn’t plan too much ahead because of ill health. Depending on how you do Christmas and how organised everyone else is in your life, there are some things you can do to reduce the amount of gifts you need to buy.
– Kris Kringle: stick names of all the adults in a hat and buy one present each, or if you have a lot of nieces and nephews do a similar thing so each niece or nephew buys only one or two gifts instead of everyone buying everyone gifts.
– Check points: if you are a member of any reward programs, now is a good time to cash out your points. A last minute Christmas can be crazy. Use points for gift cards you can use instantly. The gifts you can select with rewards are unlikely to arrive in time now.
– Check discounts online: it might be last minute, but doesn’t mean you shouldn’t research to see what deals are on, loo at discount sites, consider experiences (I am getting some from Adrenalin) instead of ‘stuff’. Any loyalty program you are part of might have discount rates for you, so check them as well. Make your money go as far as possible.
– Think practical: this time of year my daughters have pretty much destroyed their lunch boxes and things like that. They are getting sets like the ones pictures below, along with some books and a few snacks. Often the idea of something to eat, something to drink, something to read works well with stockings. Santa always gave me a mini box of cereal, a drink, a packet of chips, a chocolate or lolly and a book to read or small game. My kids get the same as do my nieces and nephews.
You could keep the set packaged or open it up like this next picture. There are different designs and you can get them with your groceries instead of needing to run to a bunch of different stores. Everything fits in the bag, the bag is so easy to clean and keeps food fresh. The set includes an insulated bag, ice puck, drink bottle, lunch box and stickers.
I only need to plan for the four of us and we will be in a pretty sweet location. Since there was a birthday party the other night my daughters loved pass the parcel and requested similar games. EASY!
Our Christmas activities will include opening presents throughout the day, eating breakfast, playing with what we got, swimming in the pool, eating more food, games like pass the parcel, musical statues, pin the pom pom on Santa’s hat or nose on Rudolph, watching some movies, some baking and decorating cookies and cakes, maybe the park, ping pong and similar games.
Create a list of fun things, but don’t expect to have to do them all. I know when I have done large parties, most people like to sit around chat, eat and drink. Kids love games, movies and playing outside. Water fights go down well here in Australia too. It is a day to relax so take the pressure off yourself!
Step 4: Time is NOT your friend!
You don’t have much time, so get practical. Try to get things at the same stores instead of needing to go around a heap of shops. Supermarkets have a great selection of gifts, food, everything! The sets in this post from Smash can be bought there and since you can cash in FlyBuys etc this time of year, it can be essentially free for you to do what you need.
Look at what you can order online (such as experiences, memberships, e-gift cards etc.)
Step 5: Relax and take care of YOU!
We get so stressed out, running around, wanting to make it a perfect day. Guess what? Whatever happens, it will be a great day! It is mostly about attitude. If you are relaxed and happy, taking care of yourself and not pushing yourself too hard you will be able to think clearly, get what you need and have a good time. If you, the host, are stressed it puts everyone else on edge.
What are your tips for a frugal, last minute Christmas?
I am sure I made it clear, but I was sent the photographed items by Smash to review. They arranged to send them before I found out about my Christmas plans changing and I feel so grateful they arrived when they did! Definitely a life saver for me.