Christmas is almost upon us once again, with yesterday marking 10 weeks until the big day.

Preparation is the recipe for a very merry Christmas in challenging times, according to  Helen Baker, author of On Your Own Two Feet. Who joins Dave for Weekend Wondering

This Christmas will have even more to navigate than usual, given the border closures, social distancing and financial pressures, but Helen says you can still enjoy the festivities by following a simple 10-week Christmas checklist:

 

10 weeks out from Christmas, my true love said to me… “Set your spending plan”

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Allocate an amount to each person you need to buy for and then add it up. If the number is too scary, work your way backwards from a number you’re comfortable with. If you’re earning less this year, be creative. Have a spring cleanout and sell unwanted items for extra cash or regift unused ones. Redeem loyalty and frequent flyer points to buy gifts. Alternatively, go for handmade gifts: print and frame your photos; cook up a storm in the kitchen; grow cuttings from your garden; paint, draw or build something wonderful. Chances are it will mean more anyway.

 

8 weeks out from Christmas, my true love said to me… “Do your research”

Start looking now for what you’ll need to get, as shopping around will let you hunt out the best price. Get an idea of what you’ll be getting for who. This will make it easier to do price comparisons. Also consider where they will come from – you’ll need to prioritise things coming from interstate or overseas. Start buying some things now – it means you won’t have to put all your Christmas spending onto a single month’s income.

 

6 weeks out from Christmas, my true love said to me: “Shop wisely”

With COVID causing shipping delays, now is the time to shop online so that everything arrives in time. Avoid using the credit card if you won’t be able to pay it off when the interest free period ends.  How secure is your job? Beware of bogus discounts. Is the “original” price really what the ticket says, or was it made up to make the current price seem like a bargain when it’s really not?

 

4 weeks out from Christmas, my true love said to me: “Scan the sales”

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales have become increasingly popular. You could bag a bargain if you’ve been tracking the prices on an item. Start stocking up on groceries, especially non-perishables – even better if you can buy in bulk. Do the same for beer, wine and other drinks. Get the wrapping paper out now too – you’ll save yourself a last-minute bottleneck of presents to wrap if you do it as things arrive and you’ll know that person’s gifts are done and stop buying more than you need.

 

2 weeks out from Christmas, my true love said to me: “Be clever”

Use last-minute shopping to your advantage. Stock up on the Christmas decorations, foods and items that are now on sale as stores try to clear unsold goods. You can put them aside for next year or an upcoming birthday. Get the kids things they will need for summer holidays and back to school as stocking fillers – you’ll be buying them anyway, so why not reduce the number of gifts you’re buying.

 

Final tip – consider making donations to charity instead of buying presents last-minute. What better way to capture the spirit of Christmas, plus you’ll save on shipping costs and wrapping paper, avoid the crowded shopping centres and can claim a tax deduction too!