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100+ CHRISTMAS PLANNING TIPS 2022
Use these Christmas planning tips to help get prepared and ready for the festive season with as little stress as possible.
Whilst Christmas is deemed the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ it can be a huge amount of hardwork and stress preparing for it.
So if you are looking for tips on how to take the pain out of preparing for Christmas, you’ve come to the right place.
These Christmas planning tips will help you get organised for the holiday season, minimise stress and help you enjoy your time with family and friends a whole lot more!
But fear not, if you are landing here in November or December, these tips will still help you to simplify the whole getting ready for Christmas process.
These are the tips that will help ensure you are the most organised you have ever been, so that you arrive at Christmas day ready to really enjoy it.
There are just over 100 tips, so cherry pick the ones that will work best for you as you get ready to plan your best Christmas ever.
Read on to find out more…
PREPARING FOR CHRISTMAS 2022
Every year around the start of September it is possible to feel the start of the simminging anxiety of those of us with the responsibility of making sure Christmas is magical for everyone.
Much as it would be lovely to not even think about Christmas until 1 December, the reality is that starting to prepare early is the best way of making sure that December doesn’t descend into stress-inducing chaos.
Whether this is a tactic you’ve not tried before or whether you feel that your Christmas prep could do with an upgrade, you will find that this big list of Christmas planning tips will give you everything you need to ensure you win at planning for Christmas like never before.
HOW TO PLAN CHRISTMAS 2022
1. GENERAL CHRISTMAS PREP AND ORGANISATION
- Start your Christmas planning during the first week of October. This gives you 12 weeks to methodically tick off every aspect of planning for Christmas. Use my printable week-by-week Christmas to do list to get your plan in place
- Start a Christmas planner so that you keep track of everything that needs to get done. Google Sheets or Excel make great planners. You can download my free Christmas Gift Tracker Google Sheet to get started
- Decide on where you’ll spend the Christmas period by the first week of October so you have plenty of time to plan
- Get all capable members of your family involved in preparing for Christmas – you can be the ring-leader, but you don’t have to carry the burden by yourself
- Plan in advance what you will do with the kids over the Christmas school holidays, it’s easy to get so focused on Christmas day itself that the rest ends up a stressful juggle
- Get dates for kids’ school events in your diary early to avoid last minute panics
- Book time off work as soon as you are able – check which day Christmas day lands on and plan accordingly
- Decide if you will host Christmas day or any other Christmas event/party and get the invites out early, so you know numbers to plan for
- Book tickets for Christmas shows and events early – pantomime, ice-skating, visits to Santa – so you get the dates you want and you don’t miss out
- Doing an online supermarket shop? Keep an eye out for the Christmas slots being released and book them straight-away.
- Be realistic about how much you can fit in over the Christmas holiday, downtime is as important as doing all the fun stuff
- Consider instigating larger family or friends gatherings so you have less people and places to get round overall
- Buy (or make) Advent calendars early, it’s a great psychological win to have hidden away in plenty of time for 1 December. Here is some homemade Advent calendar inspiration
- Going to be a guest somewhere else for Christmas? Offer help early – and even suggest what you could do – so you a. Support your host/s and b. Don’t get lumbered with a job you’d rather not have
- Planning to use the car for a long journey? Check oil, tyre pressure and give it a quick valet in plenty of time, to avoid last minute panics
- Read my top tips on how to make Christmas less stressful
2. COST-SAVING AND BUDGETING TIPS
- Plan Christmas around what you can comfortably afford rather than trying to create the perfect Christmas on a limited budget. Christmas is ultimately about making sure everyone has a good time, it’s not about bankrupting your family coffers and causing loads of unnecessary stress as a result. Honestly, it’s never worth it.
- Decide on a realistic budget for Christmas and track your spending to make sure you stick to the budget
- Your budget should include absolutely everything you need to buy for Christmas:
- Gift wrap
- Postage (always surprisingly expensive these days!)
- Food and drink
- Items for serving food if you’re hosting (serving dishes, crockery, cutlery)
- Travel – fuel costs are at an all time high, so make sure you count this cost in
- Events and shows
- Set a gift cost limit for everyone you’re buying gifts for. Use my gift planner google sheet.
- Consider agreeing to only buy gifts for children. If that feels too stark, consider doing a Secret Santa for all the adults on Christmas day. Or consider nominating a charity that everyone donates to in place of gifts for adults.
- Consider instigating the Five Gift Rule as a more meaningful way to give – and it’s also a great way to stick to a tight budget.
- Don’t forget to factor in cost of postage when deciding gift costs per person
- Get your gift shopping done by the end of November so you can give gifts in person and save on postage
- Buy your kids some gifts that you’d need to buy them anyway, new bedding, socks, undies, pens and pencils etc
- Send cards with gifts to save on overall postage costs
- Recycle last year’s Christmas cards into gift tags (stealing this idea from my mum!)
- Post cards and gifts during the first week of December to make use of second class postage. To illustrate this with Royal Mail stamp prices in 2022: 50 x 1st class stamps = £47.50 versus 50 x 2nd class stamps £34
- Message everyone to say you’re making a donation to charity instead of sending cards (and do actually make that donation!)
- Don’t assume Royal Mail is the cheapest way to send parcels. Use Parcel2Go to compare options.
- Go with the trend for using brown paper gift wrap as a cheaper (and eco-friendly) option to fancy wrapping paper
- Keep an eye out for great sale bargains / discounts on things you know you’ll need to buy for Christmas through the year
- Use a cashback site such as QuidCo to get cashback every time you shop online
- Save loyalty points from your credit card or store cards to use for buying gifts
- Having turkey? Buy a smaller turkey than usual and bulk up plates with cheaper food items
- Meal plan for the whole of the Christmas period, it really will save you money (and time.. And stress)
- Splash out on the best turkey and Christmas pud you can afford, but switch to own-brand or other cheaper food alternatives for your ingredient and food basics
- Make sure outdoor Christmas lights and Christmas tree lights are on timers to avoid racking up huge electricity bills
- Book train or plane travel as far in advance as possible to make use of super-saver deals
- Consider whether you and your family really enjoy pantomime. If not, consider a cheaper alternative Christmastime show – or simply don’t bother booking
- Buy all your gifts by the end of November to take advantage of free online delivery that will arrive in plenty of time
- Black Friday can be a great chance to make big savings, but use it strategically, have a plan and don’t just buy stuff because it’s on sale (and check that the discount really is unbeatable) Use my Black Friday shopping guide for tips on getting the best from Black Friday
- Consider buying a delivery pass for your online supermarket deliveries, it may work out cheaper overall than paying per delivery. Sign up for the Amazon Prime 30-day trial to make use of free deliveries for your Christmas shopping. Remember to cancel before the 30 days are up if you really won’t use it through the rest of the year, but do consider whether it’s actually a great overall saving. I have Amazon Prime and I wouldn’t be without it. Take a look at what Amazon Prime offers.
- Don’t restrict gift wish lists to kids writing letters to Santa. Ask all immediate family members to write out their wish list
- Create a gift tracker and keep it from year to year so you don’t accidentally duplicate or to use as inspiration for other kids/family members for another year. Download my free Christmas Gift Tracker Google Sheet to use.
- Keep an eye out for suitable gifts throughout the year and put them aside
- Assemble toys and items that need putting together ahead of Christmas day so that you don’t waste time on Christmas day putting things together with shaky hands to appease overexcited kids
- Create a coded gift wrapping scheme to easily keep track of whose gift is whose without having to endlessly check gift tags
- Secret Santa is a great way of cutting down on time spent shopping for gifts for adults
- Agree to donate to charity rather than buying gifts for adults. We, as a family, always donate to Crisis, a charity for the homeless. Find out more about Crisis At Christmas here
- Don’t just buy stuff, tickets to concerts, theatre tickets, festival tickets make great gifts, particularly hard to buy for teens. Take a look at TicketMaster for inspiration.
- Upscale brand or fancy versions of everyday stuff makes for great gifts for tweens and teens. Think luxury socks instead of basic socks, luxury brand lip gloss, upscale sports brand hoodie.
4. CHRISTMAS CARDS
- There is no getting away from it, writing Christmas cards is a chore. So work out what works for you. I prefer a monster big card writing session, but you may prefer to set yourself a daily card writing target over a few days.
- Receive a card from someone unexpectedly? Return the favour and make sure to add them to your card list for next year straight away
- You don’t have to send cards, there is an increasing trend towards donating to charity instead. Just make sure to message everyone on your card list to let them know!
- Most primary schools in the UK now sell Christmas cards your kids have designed, but you can also get the kids crafting cards at home if you want to give them an activity that has a useful end product
- Get your cards written and posted by the end of the first week of December, it will save you money on postage and psychologically it is a huge milestone to tick off your Christmas to do list. Create an address document on your computer and print out all card addresses rather than handwriting them. Here’s a video on how to create address labels in google docs
- Buy your stamps and postage online to avoid standing in massive queues at the Post Office
- (use Parcel2Go to find the most cost effective couriers for parcels)
- Have a strategic gift shopping plan for where and when you’ll do your main Christmas shop. Use my Christmas Gift Planner to make your plan.
- Plan every aspect of Christmas in advance, a simple plan is guaranteed to save you time. Don’t forget to download and print a copy of my ultimate Christmas to do list to get you started
- Plan to avoid shopping during peak shopping periods, you will get the job done so much quicker and it will be a much more pleasant experience
- Use online shopping to avoid queues and save time in general
- Delegate tasks to other family members, it will save you time and make them feel more involved. Read these other tips on how to make Christmas less stressful
- Keep gift-wrapping simple, avoid having to tie fancy bows and stick things on to save timePay a little extra for gift-wrapping when online shopping, this means that not only do you save time on gift-wrapping, but you can also have the gift sent directly to the recipient, saving on time spent posting and also on the cost of posting. I do this all the time with Amazon for gifts for nieces, nephews and friends’ kids
- Keep a list of gifts received as they are opened to save time on thank you card writing
- Check in advance that you have enough cutlery, crockery and serving dishes if you’re hosting Christmas day
- Christmas isn’t the time to trial new and exciting recipes. Either road test them in advance or just stick to keeping things simple, a Christmas meal is a treat in itself. Use my simple Christmas dinner menu as a basis.
- Check for allergies, major dislikes and special dietary requirements ahead of planning the main Christmas meal
- Meal plan for the whole of the Christmas period, not just for Christmas day itself. Even if it’s just your immediate family for some or most of the time, it takes a load off not to have to think about it when you could be busy relaxing. Use my Christmas meal planner printable to help.
- Batch cook meals for the Betwixtmas days, so you don’t have to do more than heat up food
- Plan to use leftovers as part of your Boxing Day menu
- Share the Christmas day food load – you take care of the main course and ask each set of guests to cater for the other courses – starters/dessert/cheese board/wine etc. We have done this when we’ve hosted and have also participated as guests
- Serve the Christmas meal buffet style to save on plating up if you’ve got a lot of people to cater for
- Go for a turkey crown instead of a whole turkey to save time on cooking and to save on leftovers if everyone is likely to want breast meat
- Apply the rule that the more people eating the less they will eat and round down portions accordingly
- There is no shame in ready-prepared shop bought food at Christmas (or at any other time you are hosting!!) so forget about homemade cranberry sauce, homemade gravy, homemade angels on horseback if you just don’t have the time or energy
- Do a quick Christmas day plan that centres around the time you want to serve the main Christmas meal
- If you don’t have young kids you can easily stick to two meals on Christmas Day – brunch and a late late lunch
- It is perfectly acceptable – in fact prudent – to aim for a late Christmas lunch, 3pm is a great time to aim for if you want to keep stress levels to a minimum
7. HOME & DECOR
- Expecting guests to stay over? Make sure you know where everyone will sleep, prepare the guest room – do you have enough bedding, pillows and duvets? Does the room need a declutter? Not enough beds? Find out if you can borrow an airbed or buy one. This one is super comfortable.
- Do a big toy cull, either with the help of your kids or without. Wash and clean them and take them to the charity shop in plenty of time to be bought as gifts by others
- If you’re planning a big pre-Christmas clean, do it before you put up the Christmas decorations, because it will be extra hard to clean around them
- Save time and energy by using my Christmas Decor planner to create a simple but effective decor plan, so you know what you’ve got, what you need to buy and how each room/the outside of your house will look
- Choose a simple Christmas decor theme and stick to it to avoid overspending or overdoing it
- Check your Christmas decorations are all working in plenty of time to do something about it if they aren’t
- Decide if you want to decorate the outside of your house (it’s a growing trend in the UK, but is far from essential) Here is some Christmas wreath inspiration if you do decide to
- Don’t buy expensive Christmas decorations until the last minute – to take advantage of discounts – or wait until after Christmas and buy them early for next year!
- Measure the space the Christmas tree will go in before you go to buy it – both height wise and width-wise, it’s amazing how much space a tree can take up. Here is some Christmas tree decoration inspiration for you
- Real trees are actually more eco-friendly than artificial ones, so don’t buy an artificial one unless you absolutely have to
- Aim to add a special decoration to your collection every year. Perhaps get your child/kids to choose one so that it has extra sentimental value
- Get the lights and basics onto the tree and then let the kids help decorate the rest of it, it will save on arguments (and is also easier to rearrange after the kids have gone to bed)
- Buy candles or fragrance diffusers to create an instantly Christmassy vibe in your home. Take a look at my post on how to make your home smell like Christmas
- Thrill younger children by allowing them to watch Santa on Norad as he travels around the world on Christmas Eve
- Make an event of putting out the Stop Here sign for Santa – hot chocolates and carol, followed by arriving back inside to find a Christmas Eve box should do it!
- Make sure to have a big family Christmas jigsaw puzzle set up ready for everyone to dip in and out of piecing together over the days of Christmas
- Have at least one game to hand that everyone can participate in – board games can work, but also games like charades or doing a big fat quiz of the year work really well
- If you’re having a Christmas party or get together make sure to have a few simple Christmas kids party games up your sleeve to keep kids entertained
- Create a Christmas music playlist – or get the kids to put one together
- Have a list of movies to watch, obviously Die Hard is the ultimate Christmas movie(!!) but there are plenty of others that make the grade and Christmas is also a great time to catch up on movies that you’ve not had a chance to watch during the rest of the year. Here is a big list of the best Christmas movies of all time
- Nothing beats a big walk on Boxing Day to blow the cobwebs off and ease any tension arising from everyone having to be nice to each other for too long
- Plan your outfits for Christmas
- Buy any clothes you need for events in plenty of time
- Book any hair and beauty appointments well in advance
- Plan some downtime for yourself, even if it is just a couple of hours. Christmas can be a magical time of the year, it can also be exhausting, so treat yourself kindly
- Remind yourself on Christmas morning to be IN THE MOMENT it is so easy for it to all whizz by in a haze of hosting and looking after everyone else
- Keep hydrated. Not just to counteract any alcohol that may be being consumed! Homes packed with Christmas guests get hot and being on your feet is tiring, so make sure to keep yourself on top form by quaffing enough water
- It’s totally ok to set an earliest time for the kids to jump on you in bed, you can even make a challenge out of it – leaving a little Christmas stocking at the end of their bed to open the second they wake is a good way to buy some time
- Put someone else in charge of taking photos so that you stand a chance of being in some of them!
- Read my tips on how to look less tired to make sure you’ll be feeling great knowing that you’re looking great on Christmas day
Well, I think that just about covers it! I’m not for one minute suggesting that you follow each and every one of these Christmas planning tips. But if you cherry pick carefully you should find yourself with a every bit of intel you need to have a really strong Christmas planning game!
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Luci is the founder of Mums Make Lists (Est. 2011). Over the last decade or so, she has used her experience as a mum to create useful guides to organising family life. During that time, she has found the most joy in creating lists of ideas and inspiration to make it easier for busy parents to plan and host kids’ parties and find great gifts. Read more.