If you like to celebrate a full on Christmas, or at least enjoy a few Yuletide festivities, it can be an expensive time of year. Fortunately you can spread the cost by planning ahead, so here are some prompts for easy thrifty Christmas prep in October.
Everybody has their own way of doing things, and these are just a few reminders and ideas for getting ahead this month. Remember, you don’t need to do everything all at once, but it’s also great not to try do everything at the last minute.
So, what are your October options?
Social & personal Christmas plans
Planning where you’re going to be, and who with, is generally better done sooner than later – so many other variables hinge on these decisions.
- Are you travelling to see relatives or friends?
- Are you going on a festive holiday of some sort?
- Will you be hosting family or friends?
- Are you planning a long celebration or a shorter one?
- Do you want to have a busy/noisy or relaxed/quieter break?
If there’s something you really want to do (or something you really don’t want to do, like hosting your sourfaced racist homophobic Great Uncle Eric who never chips in, stays for 11 days, and drinks all of your whisky before finally effing off) then MAKE PLANS sooner rather than later!
Invite people over, or check if you’re invited somewhere, or make it well known that you’re not hosting this year and having a quiet one / going away (sorry Great Uncle Eric, maybe another time?).
There might be a bit of negotiating to do if you’re part of a group that take turns in hosting, but try to have that conversation soonish if you can.
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Put those loose plans into place
Once you know where you stand with the big stuff, you can get booking or sorting:
- Save on train tickets, bus, boat, rail or plane tickets (if you book ahead)
- Get the car serviced if needed, or book a rental such as Zipcar, or Enterprise Car Hire
- Book a cheap hotel room for yourself or your guests at Travelodge UK, Agoda or Hotels.com
- Finish that DIY or decorate the spare room (see B&Q offers), or sort out foldaway beds (good deals at Argos here) etc.
You might also want to think about social plans, meeting up with friends and neighbours, work do’s, and things to do over the festive break. That might include:
- Cooking a meal for friends, or having drinks and snacks or a full-on party
- Going out for lunch or dinner at a restaurant
- Other activities: the best UK pantomimes, shows for kids, Christmas fairs and other events, carol singing or religious services, Nativity plays or other school events, watching a spooky or cute Christmas movie, or anything else you like
Definitely plan for some quiet nights in too, in case it gets hectic.
Once you know roughly what your diary’s going to look like, you can think about booking tickets or tables, buying some food and drink, and searching for free events.
Christmas food & drink prep in October
Now is a good time to get ahead of the festive food prep, to spread the cost and make sure you have the essentials in.
For example you could pick up some of these:
- Baking ingredients and decorations
- Anything shelf stable: biscuits, tins of sweets, jars of cranberry sauce, gravy granules, custard powder, jars of pickles or whatever you prefer
- Frozen foods: turkey or chicken, other meats, vegetarian or vegan centrepieces, icecream, showstopper desserts, ready made puff pastry or party foods – the latest offerings from Iceland are a great place to start if you’re on a budget, with more coming on the 6th of November
- Soft drinks, wines, beers, spirits, mixers, cocktail ingredients
There are usually a few multi-buy offers and 3-for-2 deals around in October, plus many supermarkets have 25% off 6 bottles of wine, prosecco or champagne too.
Don’t get too caught up with supermarket super-premium own-brand ranges as they don’t always pass blind taste tests. I’ll let you know about the best offerings very soon though!
Most things are cheaper if you make them yourself, and October is a month when you can get a headstart on lots of food and drink. From-scratch prep could include:
- Making some sweet mincemeat recipes like this Delia Smith one (may need time to mature)
- Making your own pastry for mince pies and freezing it
- Making cookie dough or gingerbread dough and freezing it
- Baking Christmas cakes (most people like to make them 6 to 12 weeks ahead)
- Making sloe gin, or blackberry liqueur now so it has time to infuse
- Making Christmas chutneys, pickles and relishes
- Putting together savoury pies and bakes for the freezer
- … and anything else you like, as long as it can be stored safely
Christmas crafts prep in October
If you like your arts and crafts, get started early by:
- Deciding what you’re going to make this year
- Buying craft supplies and fabric – find some great deals at Hobbycraft, Cass Art and The Works this month
- Making cards, wrapping paper, reusable bags or wrappings
- Making a few room and table decorations
- Creating homemade gifts such as toys, scarves and jumpers
- Making things for sales and fairs, or charity events
Christmas gifts prep in October
If you’re buying gifts, start by deciding your budget. Talk with other people about it, and manage expectations if you need to.
You might like to keep gifts below a certain price, set a spending limit per person, keep the gift-giving to children only, or do a Secret Santa where everyone gets one thing to open. It’s all up to you, but it usually does help to mention it nice and early.
Then move on to any of these next steps:
- Work out exactly who you’re buying gifts for (making a list and checking it twice)
- Start finding out what kids might want, if you haven’t heard already
- Ask relatives or friends if they specifically need/want anything
- Research possible gifts and maybe start tracking prices
- Check out a few Christmas shops for deals: Boots, Dunelm, John Lewis, Cult Beauty, Oliver Bonas, Matalan and House of Fraser all have discounts right now
- Look for early bird offers, 3-for-2s and end of season sales
- Buy a few things this month so you don’t have to do it all later
Enjoying this post? You may also like:
- Christmas gifting trends for 2023 – this way for inspiration
Are you doing any Christmas prep in October this year? Leave a comment in the box below and let us know what you’ve been up to.