Create a Christmas calendar
The first thing you need to do is set up a Christmas calendar. Just find a free calendar template online (I like this one) and print it out.
On your calendar, you need to pencil in the following things:
– Christmas, Christmas Eve, Boxing Day (if you live in Canada). Duh!
– Any holiday events for your child(ren)’s school.
– Any holiday events for work (yours or your partner).
Week One: Do all holiday decorating.
Week Two: Complete gift shopping, wrap all gifts.
Week Three: Do any holiday baking needed, package all baked goods that are to be given as gifts.
Week Four: Celebrate the holiday with loved ones.
Your calendar will probably look different. Maybe you want to decorate and finish your shopping in the same week and have another week where you are doing holiday volunteer work. Whatever your situation, write it down in your calendar.
By having a plan for each week, you are setting yourself up for an organized, enjoyable holiday.
Create a Christmas budget
Now that you have your Christmas Calendar all filled out, you need to create a Christmas budget. Your budget will cover the following things:
If you want to get into the Christmas spirit, pull out all of those decorations! Set up the tree, hang the lights and add little bits of holiday cheer all over your home with towels, figurines, and wreaths.
Christmas decorations don’t have to be expensive.. and you don’t have to buy them every year – but it is nice to have a bit of money in the budget in case your lights burn out (buy some LEDs!) or your cats break all of the ornaments on your tree (get some shatter-proof!). I always like to buy 1 or 2 new Christmas decorations every year, usually at the after-Christmas sales.
Whatever your needs, pick a realistic budget for your decorations. Write down what you plan to buy and how much it will cost and then that’s all you’ve got, partner! If you see a great deal on something that’s not on your list – sorry, you can’t have it! Only buy what you can afford and that is on your list!
Are you having dinner at your home on Christmas? Maybe you are going to a family member’s home but would like to bring a few dishes as well. Whatever the case may be, you need to make sure you have a budget for all of the food you will need to buy this Christmas. If you want to have a special breakfast & lunch on Christmas day, keep this in mind.
Perhaps you are having a Christmas Eve dinner as well (or instead). Write down all of the ingredients you are going to need, how much they will cost, and then add it all up. That is your budget for food. Do NOT spend more than this amount! Make a list and stick to it.
Okay, now here’s the biggie. You need to make a list of every single person you need to buy a gift (or two) for. Only add the number of people you can afford. After you make your list of gift recipients, write down what you can spend PER PERSON and then add it all up.
Maybe you will spend $75 on your mom, $25 on your brother, and $50 on each of your children. Add up the numbers and get your total. Then – don’t spend any more than that!
Those are the main things that need to be included in your Christmas budget. If you are planning on traveling, you will need to have another budget for that as well.
Not sure what to cut? Here are just a few ideas:
– Instead of hosting an elaborate Christmas dinner, have a potluck. Ask each guest to bring 1 dish and you supply the turkey.
– Only have 1 Christmas meal. Whether that be dinner on Christmas Day or dinner on Christmas Eve… go all out on just ONE meal.
– Don’t buy decorations. Make do with what you already have. I’d still keep a moderate $20-$50 in your decorations part of the budget though. Just in case!
– Only invite dinner guests that are a close family. No distant cousins, no friends of friends. Stick to the people who are most important to you.
– Scale back on your gift-giving. Consider giving homemade gifts this year. Or trim your gift recipients back to just your immediate family.
Christmas is my favorite holiday and I love to celebrate it, but it’s not worth going into debt over! Make sure you stick to your Christmas budget so you can enjoy this holiday season with your friends and family, without the stress.
Plan your holiday menu
If you are hosting any type of holiday meal this Christmas, you need to have a plan. Even if you are only making eggs & bacon for breakfast and some frozen meals for dinner – have a plan or you will be sorry! Why is it so important to plan your holiday menu? It’s important because you need to make sure you have all of the ingredients on hand. It’s also important because it makes the meal preparation step a lot less stressful. Since I know that many people will be making a special dinner for the holidays, here are some questions you should ask yourself before you jump right in.
What type of meal are you going to have? Will it be a sit-down dinner or a buffet? How many people will be there? Just your immediate family or every single person you know? You need to be aware of how many people will be there so that you know how much food to buy and how to set the table(s) up. You need to know the type of meal you are going to have so you can make sure you have enough dinnerware, seating cards, buffet servers, etc.
What do you want to serve? This is obviously the most important part of the planning process. Here is what many Christmas dinners consist of, to give you an idea of what to put on your menu:
– Baked Ham
– Candied Yams or Sweet Potatoes
– Cranberry Sauce
– Mashed Potatoes
– Apple, Pumpkin or Pecan Pie
– Mixed Vegetables
If you have any special recipes you want to make this year, pull them out now and check all of the ingredients. Write down what you need to buy. Then, you need to keep an eye on the store flyers and watch for sales on those items. Stores will have Christmas dinner items on sale ALL THE TIME now, so you just need to watch for when the particular items that YOU need to go on sale. Then, head on in, pick them up, and set them aside until it’s time to make your holiday dinner.
By planning your holiday menu now, instead of waiting until the day before Christmas, you will be less stressed out when it’s finally time to start cooking that fabulous meal!
Making Christmas traditions
Christmas has become all about gifts and that is truly unfortunate. I am not a religious person, and although Christmas has no religious meaning for me, I do appreciate the holiday for what it is – a time to GIVE and a time to be with your family.
We want to raise Elliott in a home where there is lots of love, which doesn’t have to mean lots of presents. There are many ways, other than presents, that you can show love to your child on Christmas (or any other day of the year!):
– play with them
– bake cookies with them
– tell them that you love them
– read them bed time stories
– take them on fun outings
I believe that having a holiday with a few gifts and lots of love is a much better way to spend your time.
Even though we don’t give Elliott many gifts on Christmas, we do want to have a few Christmas traditions. Something for him to look forward to every year. I would much rather him be excited about the traditions than the gifts he will be receiving!
Since we have only had one Christmas with Elliott, we haven’t really started our traditions yet. The only one that we have is taking a photo in front of the Christmas tree. Richard and I have talked about what traditions we would like to start and here are the things we plan to do (some we will do this year and some won’t begin until next Christmas):
Even though Elliott will only be 17 months old this Christmas, I want it to be an enjoyable holiday for him. He may not remember these things when he is older, but I will. I am also a bit insane with my camera so there will always be photos for him to look at to refresh his memory.
Do you have a Christmas calendar? What are your Christmas traditions? Do you have any tips for making your holiday menu planning any easier? I’d love to hear them!