...without breaking the bank.
Before I begin, I need to tell you that I LOVE Christmas!
Cheesy Christmas movies, mince pies, twinkling lights, feasting, carols, gathering family and friends, mulled wine, crowded shops...I love it all. I don't love the commercialised greed-fest that Christmas has become, but I really enjoy making a big deal out of celebrating. Although I enjoy giving and receiving gifts, that isn't the main focus of Christmas for me or my family. That doesn't mean that Christmas comes cheap, though! In order to celebrate Christmas, I do need to plan and budget for it.
One of the main ways I do this is by planning ahead. I get really annoyed by people who boast about not even thinking about Christmas until December. I can only assume that they have someone else in their family who does all the planning, organising and shopping, and so makes Christmas happen for them, or they can afford to do all their shopping in one go, and paying top prices at that.
I start thinking about Christmas in January. This is when I pick up cards, wrapping and sometimes even crackers, when they are being sold off really cheaply. I have a wooden chest in the conservatory in which I store my Christmas things.
During the year,and particularly during September, October and November, I buy gifts here and there. These go into the chest, and means that I don't have to spend huge amounts in December.
I buy savings stamps from my local supermarket all year. A pound here and there soon adds up, usually enough to buy the meat and veg for Christmas lunch. I have a lot of family over for Christmas lunch, usually 12-15. I try to buy as much as I can before December. Things like a jar of cranberry sauce, a bottle of wine, ginger beer to cook the ham in...they don't cst much per item, and can be picked up along with the weekly shop. If I left them all until the December shopping trip, though, the combined cost would probably make me wince!