Tips for getting ready for Christmas

Can you believe it is only 5 weeks until Christmas?! This year I made a decision to give it a lot more thought and preparation than previous years. This is only because I didn't plan well last year, and therefore felt very stressed and overwhelmed trying to get everything done in the last week or so!

I decided to split the whole process into stages - setting a budget, gift planning/buying/making, cards, decorating and party preparation. Mid-November, to me, feels like a good time to start planning these things.

UPDATE: Get your FREE Christmas planner, full of helpful checklists, by clicking on the link below!

When I am looking for Christmas ideas and inspiration, I generally tend to go to Pinterest or the www, so I am including links to, and images from, a lot of great sources in this post. This will be a 3-part series so there's not information overload, and hopefully there are some tips you can take away to get the ball rolling on your own Christmas preparation!

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Step 1. Set a budget

This year, for the first time, we are using a spreadsheet to track our spending. I tend to fall into the trap of buying bits and pieces here and there, especially for the kids, so I'm hoping that by setting a budget I will be able to stick to a set amount. In the spreadsheet, you can include categories for gifts, cards, wrapping, food & drink, travel, entertainment, hosting and decorations (see example below). We don't always spend money in all of these areas, but it is a good idea to think about all the potential costs you might come across.

Here are some useful templates:

Step 2. Create a list of gift-recipients

If I go present shopping without a list of who I'm buying for, then I'm sure to forget someone and have to rush back to the shops at the last minute... can anyone relate? You can include this gift-list within your spreadsheet or keep it separate (which I prefer to do). Don't forget to take this list with you when you go shopping! A helpful trick here is to have categories so you know you've covered everyone - family, friends, co-workers, teachers/nannies/babysitter/care-provider, kids' friends, pets! There are heaps of great printables on the web for this, you could try:

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Step 3. Write a list of gift ideas

Before I commit to the gift I want to buy for each person, and write it on my final list, I do some brainstorming of potential presents. I like to ask family members if there is anything they really want or need, but of course a surprise, or even a hand-made gift, is a lovely idea too.

There are so many sites with gift ideas. Here are some good ones that I found:

Some kid-specific gift sites:

And charity related:

Step 4. Buy or make cards

If you are sending cards to friends or family overseas, or even just locally, this is an easy one to get out the way now! If you're wanting to do a photo-card, Vistaprint, Snapfish, Shutterfly and Tinyprints all have good deals and discounts at this time of the year.

Alternatively, if you're feeling crafty, or want to get the kids involved, you might like to make your own cards. How cute are some of these options...

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I hope you've got some ideas, and are ready to get stuck into some Christmas preparation - you'll be feeling organised and on top of things before you know it! Stay tuned for more ideas in the next few weeks.

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