• Judith Newton

The time to prepare for Christmas 2020 is now!

Ooohhh, I can hear you screaming from here! I know here it is mid-January and Easter Eggs are already on sale in the supermarkets! Seriously? Seriously! Still, that's no reason to hide our heads in the Easter basket and forget about all those things we said we'd do differently next Christmas. Well, here is my little list of three things you can do now to make Christmas 2020 a little more peaceful and stress-free. Ready?

1. Plan Ahead

That's what we're doing right here and now. Have a think about the things that worked for you over Christmas and the things that didn't quite go to plan. How would you do it differently? You know things like not leaving the gift-wrapping until Christmas Eve or not buying your Christmas alcohol at the discount barn because you ran out of time. Write all the things down in a notebook or on your phone so you can remember what you need to do next Christmas.

It's probably a little too late for this now but good to remember for Christmas this year. Make sure you reuse as much of the Christmas wrapping paper, ribbon and cards that you can for next Christmas. Unless the paper is ripped to shreds, it can be ironed with a warm iron and reused to wrap gifts. Christmas ribbon can be wound up on some cardboard or an old toilet roll ready to be used again. Christmas cards can be cut up to make gift tags. Here some seriously fabulous ways to reuse your wrapping paper, gift ribbons, and cards not only at Christmas but throughout the rest of the year.

2. Saving Money

First, check out my previous blog on Saving Money at Christmas to get some ideas to get some cash in the bank ready for the big day!

My next piece of advice would be to look at saving every $5 note you get. This can be hard at first, especially when you change a $20 note for a newspaper and get $15 back in $5 notes along with some coins. However, the sacrifice is definitely worth it. You'll be surprised at how much money you save throughout the year. Alternatively, you can save the coins left in your wallet at the end of the day to help pay for Christmas 2020. Another idea that has been around for a while is the 52 Week Money Challenge, where you save $1 for the first week, $2 for the next week and so on right up until you finish at Week 52 where you'll have saved an impressive $1378! Maybe a Christmas Club account would work better for you where you have a set amount of money taken out of your regular bank account and put into an account that you can't touch until December.

Another way to help with costs at Christmas is to join up a reward scheme. I'd recommend joining up the free schemes if you can because after all, we're trying to save money here. Have a look at schemes like FlyBuys, Woolworths Rewards, and the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program to see how your purchases can add up to points that you can use towards gifts, events and gift cards over time. This year we saved up enough points to buy some Coles gift cards to buy groceries over Christmas and New Year, as well as getting money off our shop at Woolworths and buying some gifts from the Qantas online store. All of this from just handing over our loyalty card when shopping.

3. Gift Giving

As some of you already know I'm a big advocate for Secret Santa with family and with friends. Kids and all. Money's tight these days and we really have to choose wisely about how we spend it. Have a look at my blog from last year that talks about how we do Secret Santa at our place.

I like to take advantage of sales throughout the year, from Boxing Day through to Half-Yearly Clearances to Black Friday and beyond. It's amazing what you can find on sale. Have your list ready of all the people you need to buy for and see if you can find them something special at a good price. I even do this for my grandchildren by buying clothes for them for next Christmas in the end-of-January sales. I just make sure to buy them in the next size up!

Gift-giving can also be a time where you can personalise your gifts by making them yourself. Perhaps you want to learn a new craft this year, then use your new-found skill to make Christmas presents. I don't know about you but the older I get I value more the things people took time out to make or do for me rather than things purchased in a store. You can make anything - clothes, bags, hand-dyed scarves, cookies, sweets, a photo album of special times you shared with that person or you could even write a song or a poem, or paint a picture. It does matter as long as it's done with love. I definitely believe that handmade, from the heart, is always the best!

Well, that's about it from me this afternoon. Promise I won't write anything about Christmas until later in the year. I do hope you take time to start planning for Christmas 2020 now - that you get some savings underway, join some free incentive schemes, write that gift list, and check out future sales. Whatever it is I can guarantee (unless you're a child), Christmas is going to be here again before we know it.

Until next time,

Judith x

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