This post is part 2 of my blog series “Preparing your finances for Christmas” aimed at helping you get your spending and budget in order for the Christmas season. You can read part 1 here. Part 1 focused on spending on presents for others and ways to get organised and stay on budget when shopping. This part 2 will look at all the other categories of spending that is inherent in the Christmas season.
If you are lucky enough to be going to someone else’s house, don’t be a scrooge, ask what food or drinks you can bring and bring plenty of it. Also bring something for the host to thank them suitably.
If you are hosting Christmas dinner, make sure you do plenty of planning in advance. Write your shopping list a few weeks in advance and roughly size the cost for each item. Do your price comparison on supermarket websites and write beside each item which supermarket you should buy the items from and the rough price point. Now you have a list, a budget and a plan. Purchase in advance where possible for freezer items and non-perishables, especially if you can get a good deal. Lastly don’t be afraid to delegate to some of your guests to bring starters or desert for example.
*These principals apply if you are hosting Christmas dinner or any other event or party during the Christmas season.
When preparing your Christmas budget, don’t forget to include all aspects of the holiday in your estimates. Include items such as decorations, Christmas cards (you could consider doing e-cards – they’re free!), stamps, wrapping paper snacks and food for visitors, visits to Santa, extra heating/electricity costs resulting from decorations and cold weather. Going even more granular you could consider if you will have any costs associated with additional travel, work Christmas parties, Christmas trips out, Christmas related activities and time off work (if this will be unpaid). Lastly factor in Christmas clothes. Although I would argue you don’t need new clothes for Christmas… you want them… and that’s ok too if your budget allows.
You don’t necessarily need a separate budget category for each item of this list. You can group similar items together in your budget or omit items that don’t apply to you. I would challenge you however to calculate the total cost of Christmas and compare it to what you can actually afford, then adjust accordingly.
Start preparing for Christmas 2020 in January. Using your actual 2019 costs as a starting point, divide this amount by 12 (or 11 if you want to be finished saving by November) and start saving that amount every month for Christmas 2020. You could start shopping for 2020 in the Christmas sales this year if that’s your thing but personally I don’t recommend it. Often times when people start shopping too early they forget what they bought and end up over-spending.
And that’s it for the 2nd part of this blog series. Let me know you’re favourite Christmas preparation strategies and if these tips work for you!