Yes, it’s still only November and, no, we don’t want you to get sick of the word Christmas before Advent has even started but there are some serious benefits to getting the festive season on your agenda before it really hits. No matter what kind of Christmas you’re planning there is plenty that you can do now to make sure that it’s not a last minute panicked, pressured affair.
Bake a cake/pudding
If you’re making your own Christmas cake and puddings this year then now is the time to do it. A good Christmas cake needs to be fed with brandy for several weeks before it’s eaten to have a really festive zing. ‘Stir up Sunday’ is the day on which you should be stirring up that rich Christmas pudding mix – this fell on 23rd November last year so if you’re intending to do home made puddings for 2015 then you need to make them soon.
Send out your invites
People have a problem with spontaneous fun at Christmas, no matter what the festive adverts tell you. For most families there’s normally so much to organise, from picking up relatives to timing the turkey, that invitations to an off the cuff dinner or drinks event can be too much – and so end up being refused. If you want a full house for your Christmas party this year then get your invites out now.
There are already festive discounts appearing in store at supermarkets and now is a great time to start lining your shelves for less. There is always a dilemma around Christmas when it comes to buying now or waiting until the last minute for the biggest discounts but risking a lack of choice. It’s often advisable to make sure that you’ve got your store cupboard basics in by the end of November, whether that’s the goose fat for the potatoes or the mincemeat for the mince pies. Many of the essentials will start to go up in price as the big event gets closer.
Order your turkey!
If you’ve ever tried to find a turkey any time after 23rd December then you will know that it’s nigh on impossible to track down a decent bird thanks to the predictable rush on supermarkets and butchers during that last week before Christmas day. The easiest option is to order your turkey now – there may be discounts available if you’re willing to pay for it now too, or buy it as part of a deal with the trimmings such as pigs in blankets. You’ll also have the peace of mind of knowing that the most essential component of the Christmas lunch will be there on Christmas day.
Look out for the sales
It used to be that the seasonal sales started on Boxing Day but ever since we adopted Black Friday and Cyber Monday many UK businesses have followed the lead of their American counterparts and started discounting at the end of November and the start of December. These discounts can be huge – so large that in previous years there have been stampedes in the shops. Traditionally, Black Friday is the day to shop in store and Cyber Monday is a great time to get deals online but now the boundaries have been blurred and most retailers will just offer discounts over the entire weekend. This year, Black Friday falls on November 27th and Cyber Monday on the 30th. With the huge discounts involved this is a great time to get your Christmas presents at a fraction of the price that you would normally pay – particularly useful for kid’s toys and tech or fashion orientated presents. Although we would never recommend you borrow money to fund Christmas you could take out a short term loan to buy the presents you need at this discounted time and then repay what you’ve borrowed early in the New Year.
Plan your Christmas
Are you cooking the Christmas dinner for the first time this year? Are you planning to travel a lot on Christmas Day? Think ahead when it comes to Christmas 2015 to make sure that you don’t get caught out. This is really one of the only times of the year when the country shuts down and logistics such as train travel become difficult. Taxis are more expensive and pubic transport in cities is almost nonexistent so bear that in mind when you’re making your festive plans. Opening hours for shops around the country can vary but most won’t open over the Christmas period, even for essentials you might run out of. Make sure you have emergency numbers for your utilities companies just in case the worst happens and the boiler dies, and if you’re feeding the five thousand then take some time to work out everything you’ll need so that you don’t end up missing an essential agreement on the big day and disappointing all the relatives.
Oliver Jones has written for Solution Loans since 2016. His passion for personal finance comes through in the 200+ blog posts he's written since that time. His talent for explaining all things money means he's covered topics as diverse as...Read more about Oliver Jones