Kitty Blackadder

A Scottish blog about anxiety, minimalism and eyeshadow.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Chill Christmas Planning - Part One


I wrote a little, over-excited intro for this series last week, here, that explains why I firmly believe everyone can benefit from beginning to get organised, earlier. I know there are some people who worry that starting early takes away from the special feeling of Christmas - but let's face it, there are some festive tasks that just aren't that magical to do in a busy, stressful December - so why not do some of those now and make space for more hot chocolate drinking and Christmas film watching in the heart of the festive season?
 Let's Begin...


1. Christmas Planning HQ

I'm a list maker anyway, I have notebooks and spreadsheets for everything from planning the weekly food shops, to a detailed list of exactly when every toiletry item in the house was purchased. I accept that a lot of this is my Type A personality shining through, but when it comes to Christmas I would recommend for everyone to have a little Festive Planner. So pop into Paperchase if you've been looking for an excuse, or Poundland if you'd rather - or if you're like me you'll simply select 1 of 3320 notebooks you already had lying around to use.

I think, especially in this day and age (said grandma....), it can be tempting to just keep notes of things on our phone, or figure we'll check that email confirmation if we need to remember something - but I think really, ol' school is still best. A little hard copy of all the info you could possibly need - all in one place, all the time. You can get an elaborate folder with all different sections, or a little pocket sized notebook - whatever you like best; they'll all work, as long as you use them!


2. Grab a Calendar

Know what you're doing for Christmas yet? Who's going to be where and when? Maybe you're lucky and you do the same thing each Christmas with the same people, but in our house (well, 'houses', we've all flown the nest now!), Christmas planning generally looks like a game of Risk as we try and arrange dates and transport for everyone. Divorced parents, people not driving, far away family and commitment to pets can all complicate the plans you might have in your head.

Even if it feels too early, and even if you don't know your off-duty from work yet I think it's a good idea to get the ball rolling. Just start the conversation with folks and get everyone having a think - it's unlikely anyone is going to turn around with a definite 'yes' to anything at this point (at least, not in my family... *sigh*), but you can still get a rough feel for how things might play out - as you get older and settle into couples, it isn't always as easy as going back to Mum's and sitting in PJs with your sibling for 4 days, people get pulled in all different directions at this time of year and it's a good idea to get a dialogue started to make sure everyone's on the same page. 


3. Who's Been Nice This Year?

Early on in the season I like to start on my gift list - and before we even have to think about what we would like to buy for people, we have to think about who we'd like to buy for. Again, maybe you're lucky and you buy for the same folks year in, year out - but all different factors like new jobs with a Secret Santa, new neighbours you'd like to give a minding too, siblings got new partners? New friends come into your life this year? Try and get a list together of roughly all who you'd like to get gifts for this year.

The second step in this list is then budgeting for roughly how much you want to spend on people - again, it's maybe not the most magical task but, for most people anyway, money is a concern at Christmas and planning now for how much roughly you need to set aside for gifts can help you manage those next few precious pay checks more carefully.   

  The third step is, of course, then deciding what to get for all the lucky folks on your gift list. Now, I am definitely not someone who assigns gifts to everyone by mid-October - I would hate to force it and give people things they don't love - but sometimes, once you see everyone's names written down, it's easy to begin filling in some of the blanks; or it's easy to see where there's a BIG blank that you have no idea how to fill and maybe need some help with! I wouldn't try and rush or push this step, but just fill in all the things you do know, and you've got yourself a start point. 


4. Money, Money, Money...

One of the truly less fun tasks of Christmas - but it's really not a good idea to put this one off, or skip it all together! I know that I always have visions in my head each year of hosting a Christmas that looks like an M&S advert; filled with a gluttonous amount of decadent foods, and a tree that is positively drooping under the weight of baubles and vintage lights, and attended by guests dressed in their finest hats.... but then reality, or price tags, hit. 

Whether you like to go all out at Christmas, or you prefer to keep it small and simple - everyone has budget limitations and we can only benefit from establishing what those are now. It's hard, if not probably impossible, to know exactly what your festive outgoings will be at this point - but have an honest look at bank balances pay checks, and at least work out how much you can, or are willing to spend on the whole thing - from gifts, to food, to a dress for the work night out. Seeing an overall budget like this, might make you realise you need to adjust plans somewhere one way or another - but isn't it better to know that now than to nervously watch the money trickling out of your account in December, and wondering if you're going to be eating cold beans all through January?

And so that's everything for this first session, it isn't the most fun (well, unless you're like me and love a good bit of budgeting... but probably not, so....), but once we get this stuff out of the way we can move on to the fun things! I'll be back in a couple of weeks with Part Two - where we'll be looking at planning 'things to do', from crafts, baking and local events.

  

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