Christmas is cancelled!

christmas is cancelledHa! Only joking! It’s going to happen this year, just like it happened last year, same date. I know saying the C-word before November really annoys some people and sends them into a tailspin, but the festive season puts a major dent in the finances of most households. A little planning can take a lot of the stress and unnecessary expense out of things.

If at all possible, it’s best to try to avoid putting it all on your credit card with only a vague plan of somehow paying it off later – the interest charges could end up being crippling. What I aim do is a combination of keeping costs down, prioritising, managing expectations and – above all – spreading the cost out.

Early September is a good time to think about it, and do a little planning. Most of us will have end-August, September, October and November pay packets to budget from, which really eases the strain.

The start of September in particular is a really good time to save on gifts. You will just be able to catch the tail end of the summer sales, often with final reductions, free delivery, and money-off codes. It’s also a time when many manufacturers start to launch new products, so you could benefit from some introductory offers, or you could simply start to research potential purchases and monitor prices.

It might also be a good time to think about some of the food and drink items you’ll be using in December. For example, you might find some nice bin-ends of red wine and buy a case of that, also enjoying a case discount. There may also be deals on sparkling wines. These tend to keep well for a long time, if you can keep them hidden away, and they make really nice gifts in themselves – just add a bottle bag, some nice tissue paper and a little ribbon and you’re good to go.

It’s also a handy time to think about some home made gifts. For example, chutneys, traditional Christmas puddings, bottled fruits in syrup or liqueur, sloe gin, and blackberry brandy. They can take a while to mature and mellow in flavour, so it helps start early and make the most of any ingredients that are plentiful and cheap/free.

How are you going to spread the costs of the festive season out this year? Any interesting plans?

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