(and why you need to)
Probably the last thing you want to be thinking about right now is next Christmas. Most of us have barely managed to get the decorations back in the loft and many of us are facing the financial fall-out of our festive overspend.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Spending a little time at this end of the year, thinking about next Christmas, can save a huge amount of heartache, stress and money by the time the big day comes round again. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Get reflective: What did you REALLY enjoy about this Christmas?
Take some time to chat to your family and friends, share memories of what you particularly enjoyed about the Christmas you just had – and what you didn’t! There’s a lot of assumptions about what ‘should’ go into Christmas, but if you chat now to those closest to you, you might find some unexpected high points both personally and as a family which can help you to redefine and reshape what Christmas means and looks like for you next year.
How would you like to feel on Friday 1st December 2023? I would LOVE it if all the Christmas present shopping had been done already, if the month stretched ahead of me, full of things I wanted to do, spending time with people I care most about. Breathe deeply into your vision for December 2023, and write down as many details as you can about it. How you feel, what you’ve done already, what’s still to be done. Then ask yourself:
What’s the ONE thing that would make December more joyful for me? Can you start working on that now?
Let’s talk about money (I’ll be quick!)
If you can face it, figure out roughly how much Christmas 2022 cost you. Jot down any notes on money you spent that you could have avoided. It sounds daft but if you don’t write it down now, you will forget before the next one. Pay particular attention to any spend you felt you had to make on credit card.
Start saving for Christmas 2023 now
If you put a £1 a day away every day between now and December you’d have £300.00 saved. If your budget can’t stretch to saving £30 per month, then look at a smaller amount.
Also take a look around at things you have that you no longer want and could sell. Put any money you earn from selling those items into a separate Christmas account.
Maybe set up an automated savings account like Plum, that will make small savings for you. I love these no hassle savings apps that make the saving process so simple. Amounts are transferred into a separate savings account every week where you have a decent balance and have been spending less. You can set your savings ambitions to higher or lower depending on your budget.
You might also make use of the popular rounding function in many app based bank accounts like Starling or Monzo. Every time you spend the amount is rounded up to say £10 and the difference is transferred to a separate pot.
Write a list
If you haven’t got the 2022 list to hand, write down everything you usually buy for Christmas, including who you are buying presents for. This might include wrapping paper, Christmas cards, decorations, gifts. Have a look and see if there’s any spend you could get rid of now (by agreeing not to buy gifts for friends, or deciding not to send Xmas cards this year etc).
Create your Christmas 2023 buying plan now – and spread it out across the year
Despite what shops and advertisers want us to believe I have some important news for you: You can buy Christmas items at ANY TIME OF THE YEAR! Shock horror. These days you have to move outrageously fast to buy reduced Christmas items in the shops but if you go online you’ll be amazed at how much Christmas stuff is available.
Top tip alert! Check out places like eBay, Vinted and FB Marketplace now for Christmas items such as jumpers, decorations, and so on. Also pop into your local charity shops as often unopened gifts or Christmasy items find their way onto their shelves, especially now. And. because hardly anyone is in the market for a Christmas jumper for example, you can usually pick up some real bargains.
Set a Christmas reminder in your calendar every month
Have a reminder pop up each month – maybe with the number of days left till Christmas in it! Use this prompt to remind you of the one or two things you can buy or do each month to prep and put away for Christmas.
Create a Christmas box
Having been organised enough to buy things in advance DON’T then lose them by putting them somewhere so safe you forget you’ve got them! I find having a large plastic or cardboard box in the loft or the spare room is handy. Keep a track (on excel, a word document or the notes app on your phone) of what you’ve bought so far to help you remember and to prevent duplicating spending.
Get your craft on
Do you ever get to November/December and then start thinking about lovely gifts you could make people? I know I do! And, it’s definitely too late. If you really want make someone a hand crafted present, now is the time to start thinking, planning AND doing.
Don’t do it all
Pick one or two ideas from the list above that most appeal to you and focus on those. We’re much more effectively at making changes when we do it incrementally. If you’re a person who has never given Christmas a second thought in the 11 intervening months, then any small change you make this year to do something in advance will make a difference, come December.
Getting ready for Christmas 2023 in advance, even in little ways, will help you feel less overwhelmed as the end of the year rolls round. Don’t forget, advertisers intentionally work on our fear responses in the immediate run up to Christmas. The more anxious we are, the more vulnerable we are to making rash and unnecessary purchases. One of the best pieces of self-care you could do for yourself this year might well be to start planning and preparing for Christmas well in advance.
Another amazing article created by Rebecca Megson-Smith. A writer, writing coach and feminist, fuelled by books, tea and time by the sea. You can find her on her website, Instagram @ridleywrites and lurking on Twitter @ridleywrites.