kids

How to throw a big family Christmas without going broke.

Christmas is mental for mums and any single thing that I can do to make it a bit easier is gold. Here are my tips on how to start preparing for Christmas right now. Hopefully Christmas can be a lovely time of year, and you won’t need to be admitted to a psych ward on boxing day!

Start picking up a few long life pantry items or frozen goods now

When you do your weekly or fortnightly grocery shop, consider picking up some items that have a long shelf life that you will use over the Christmas period. This spreads the cost of feeding the hordes over the silly season over a few months. Just make sure you check the use-by date to ensure it will last until Christmas time.

Pick up a gift card or two when shopping or out and about

$5 or $10 gift cards make for an easy and well received Christmas gifts for neighbours, friends or extended families.  Not only that, if you buy a gift card from the supermarket every time you shop, you can then use these cards yourself for the big Christmas shop that needs to be done in December…. It’s like forced savings! You can pick up gift cards at the checkout from almost all supermarkets – just ask. Some ideas for gift cards include Angus & Robertson, Australia Post, Coles and Myer and Target.

LISTEN: Jody shares her best Christmas tips on the This Glorious Mess podcast.

Talk to the family about gift giving

I don’t think everyone should be buying Christmas gifts for every person in the family.  Not only is this financially stressful, it just isn’t necessary.  Personally, I think extended families should only buy for kids under 12 – and then have a limit. But if your family are into gift giving – perhaps consider having a maximum amount (say $5 or $10) – or hand-made gifts, or even think about a kris kringle – where every family members name is put into a hat and everyone buys just one gift for that secret person. Although gift giving can be a bone of contention for most families, if you start talking about it now – it could save you a lot of money and stress in the long-run.

Think about your Christmas menu in advance

A full hot Christmas dinner with all the trimmings might be great for the places in the world that are cold at Christmas time, but if it is hotter than the sun at your place on Christmas Day like it is here in Australia, then think about your menu and what is do-able or easy to achieve. Seafood is a popular choice in Australia, as is a barbecue lunch with fancy salads and a cold dessert. Think about your menu now, and plan what ingredients you can purchase in advance, what you have to order, and how you can make your life easier before Christmas by doing as much pre-preparing as humanly possible!

Put away some cash for big purchases

If you have decided on a budget or already chosen what you are going to give the kids and partner for Christmas, why not put those items on lay-by and start paying them off now, or even start putting aside a little bit of money every day so you will have enough for Christmas. This doesn’t have to be bulk cash.  Personally, I’ve set up my bank account to take $10 a day out of my bank account and put it into a separate account.  I also use the Acorns App, which is FANTASTIC as it rounds up any day to day purchases I make, and puts that round up into the stockmarket until I decide to take it out. It is a nifty way to save for Christmas without having to transfer bulk cash when you get paid (’cause that hurts!)

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Write a list of all the family you want to send an electronic Christmas card to

Christmas cards are really just for the kids.  These days, sending an electronic Christmas card or just an email with all your family has been up to for the last year is sufficient.  Do up a template in Word or similar, and just amend each copy depending on who you are sending it to. This way, you are still keeping in contact with extended family, but as you know, it is impossible to see them all at Christmas time. Great electronic Christmas cards can be done through places like Jib Jab (perhaps my favourite!)

Check out the cheap shops for boxes, wrapping paper, Christmas cards and ribbon

Buying fancy Christmas paper is really a waste, kids just rip it up and it ends up in the bin.  Check out your local cheap shop instead.  Not only do they have paper, but they have boxes and bags (which I personally adore as they are re-useable) and cheap ribbons too. An alternative to that, consider wrapping gifts in useful items, like a t-shirt or tea-towel and then decorate with twine. Another great idea is to totally ditch the Christmas paper and just buy brown paper, and have the kids decorate with ribbon and markers and stamps!

Buy gifts online to save time

Why leave the house and fight with other people to get to the shops when you can shop from the comfort of your bed with your mobile phone!  I adore online shopping, and usually you get a better deal as it is easy to shop around, and many online stores offer an incentive to buy online, which usually cancels out the postage factor. Plus another advantage is that many online stores will also wrap the gift for you for free.

Use home delivery for last minute Christmas items (but book in advance)

Most of the Christmas rush comes on Christmas Eve or the night before that, when Mums are busy buying fresh cream, custard, bread rolls and all those last minute items that just can’t be bought in advance. But rather than getting into a fist-fight with other shoppers in the long lines, spend a bit of extra money having the last minute items delivered. Most large supermarket chains including Coles and Woolworths offer a home delivery option and provided you organise this in advance and you can be home to receive the delivery, this is a great stress-free way to ensure you get everything you need without the last minute stress.

This is just a taste of Jody Allen’s brilliant Christmas advice. To read the full post ‘The Ultimate Ways to Prepare for Christmas Now’ visit www.stayathomemum.com.au

Listen to the full episode of This Glorious Mess here:

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