We’re into the final stretch for the festive season, so here’s the countdown for our remaining thrifty Christmas prep, whether you’re doing a traditional, homemade or minimalist one this year.
If you haven’t done anything at all yet, don’t panic – there’s still time to get everything done. Just follow these simple steps:
- Set a budget, rather than bunging it all on a credit card.
- Manage people’s expectations (tell people what your plans are soon, and if you’re cutting back this year).
- Make a list of the things you need to do: buying tickets or booking events, working out the exact number of guests you’re catering for, making menus, buying gifts, cooking ahead, cleaning and tidying, wrapping presents, working out how to keep guests entertained, etc.
- Plan to get some of your jobs out of the way sooner rather than later, to avoid a last minute rush.
Deals and offers around this week
It’s a good week for offers and flash sales, as the supermarkets and high street shops compete for our custom.
- Sainsbury’s is doing 25% off when you buy 6 bottles or more of sparkling wine or champagne, including their award-winning Taste the Difference NV Brut champagne (reduced from £18.00 to £13.50 by this offer).
- ASDA has big discounts on top brand malt whisky (up to £17 off), £12 champagne, and roll-back prices on wines and spirits.
- Morrisons has a lot of offers on meat and poultry (freeze now, cook later), soft drinks and packs of ciders and beers.
- The Body Shop – £25 off a £50 spend with code: 14664.
- Clarks – 50% off sale
- Superdrug – 50% off selected gifts
- Debenhams – 30% off sale, and 15% off selected fragrance
- House of Fraser – Brand event, up to 40% off
- Marks & Spencer – 50% off gifts + other offers
- ASOS – 30% off clothing
- Tesco Direct – Up to 50% off toys
- La Redoute – 50% off winter sale
Week 1 (4th – 10th) to do list
- Last chance to make Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, quickly maturing mincemeat and chutney recipes.
- If you’re ordering turkey or other meat from a butcher, or fish from a fishmonger, get your advance order in now. Don’t over-buy, you probably only need enough for one main meal and a few leftovers.
- Stock up on drinks, mixers, tinned and dried foods, and other non-perishable goods.
- Stock up on frozen foods, also make dishes to freeze ahead (cakes, puddings, mince pies, breads, snacks and nibbles, soups, stews, vegetarian/vegan main courses etc). Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Iceland have some of the best deals on frozen turkey this year, winning awards for taste but keeping prices reasonable.
- You can make brandy butter this week, it keeps in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks or can be frozen.
- Finish your gift shopping, unless you’re holding out for possible last minute reductions.
- This is the traditional week to decorate your home, if you haven’t done so already.
- We’re running out of time to make most homemade gifts, but there’s still time for quick knitting, infusing some vodka or brandy (strain after 2-3 days and leave to rest), making quick flavoured oils or vinegars, making homemade Irish cream liqueur, or decorating some bought candles etc.
Week 2 (11th – 17th)
- If you haven’t made traditional Christmas cake, Christmas pudding etc, you’ll have to buy it now if you want some. You can still make homemade mincemeat if you want to, just use a recipe that doesn’t need weeks to mature.
- Time to make your own cranberry sauce – most recipes keep for 10 to 14 days in the fridge. Can make brandy butter this week too.
- There’s still time to cook things ahead to freeze, and to make infusions such as homemade figgy pudding vodka.
- Expect a few price drops in the department stores at the end of the week, if you still need to buy gifts.
- Good homemade gifts to make now: biscuits, gingerbread, cookies, chocolate truffles, fudge, toffee, nut brittle, marinated olives, chilli oil.
- Do laundry and tidying etc in advance of guests arriving to stay.
- Book a home delivery slot in advance if you’re getting any food delivered next week.
Week 3 (18th – 24th)
- Stick to your gift list and grocery list – don’t panic buy.
- Buy last chance gifts in the Boxing Day pre-sales. Use click & collect services so they don’t get lost in the post.
- Finish last minute gift wrapping.
- Pick up fresh meat or fish if you’ve pre-ordered it.
- Not pre-ordered? Bargain supermarkets Aldi and Lidl have their premium fresh turkeys delivered in store on the 19th of December, get in early if you can.
- Buy any remaining fresh foods.
CHRISTMAS EVE: Prep any fresh vegetables on the 24th and store in the fridge. Remember to defrost the turkey if you’re having a frozen one, and prep side dishes such as pigs in blankets and stuffing balls. Put frozen cakes or other desserts into the fridge to defrost overnight. Chill white wine, sparkling wines, beer or soft drinks. You can also prep bread sauce, custard, and trifle the day before if you want to.
Week 4 (25th onwards)
Happy Christmas! Relax, have a great time, and remember to use up all those leftovers.
Back soon with a guide to 2017’s best value award-winning festive food and drink.
What sort of festive prep are you doing this month? Do you have any extra Christmas prep tips for thrifty first timers?