Michael Bublé to Downton Abbey – Top Christmas tips

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Maybe you are thinking isn’t it too early for Christmas tips! There is no point in burying your head in the sand people, Christmas is almost upon us!  Our top Christmas tips show you that the trick to a successful Christmas period is preparation. I have learnt this the hard way. No longer do I have the Christmas Eve mad cap rush across town, no longer do I have the dreaded moment of my credit card bill arriving in January (I blame previous years on my increasingly grey hair!).

I thought it may be a good idea to be selfless and share my ‘Christmas tips’ with you – even if you take just one thing out of this blog it would it worth my while and be your way of giving me a cheeky peck under the mistletoe.

Christmas tips – Don’t miss number 7!

1. Budget now

I know you are probably cursing any Christmas adverts already and dreading THAT date when you first hear a Christmas song on the radio, but face it, it is coming and to avoid a financial meltdown of titanic proportions, you need to prepare.

 Your pay packets from October and November are crucial in this. Decide NOW how much you are planning on spending, get yourself a spreadsheet or if your old fashioned get a pen and paper – how many people do you want to buy for? Do you really need to buy for that twice removed cousin you only ever see at weddings and funerals?!

Work out a realistic figure and stick to it – then work out how you are going to do it. Is it affordable?

You don’t need to do it all at once, maybe agree with yourself that you will spend so much from your October pay packet and so much from your November pay packet?

Some things are obvious and I don’t want to teach you to suck eggs but shop around too and look at deals and bargains! I don’t know about you but I get a big buzz from buying something that was and looks worth a lot more but it only costs maybe half of the value!

Cheeky I know and that’s why it’s so important to plan and allow time for your Christmas shopping, when it’s manic and last minute that’s when it can be expensive!

2. Set Expectations

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘champagne tastes, lemonade budget’?! You may have family members who see you as Richard Branson, but you know you aren’t. And that includes the woolly jumpers and beard. You may have children who can look at you with a certain look that makes it almost impossible to say no to. You may have started a new relationship and want to impress. It sounds cliché but get into the mind-set now that it really is the thought that counts.

 Let me indulge in one other cliché too – Honesty is the best policy! It is not romantic, but if you are in a settled relationship agree a budget that you will both stick to on each other’s gifts.

If your little cherub is eyeing up the latest games console which is retailing at a month’s rent or a ‘cool new bike’ which their mate has just been bought which gives little change from a grand, then you need to nip this in the bud NOW that Father Christmas doesn’t have a bottomless pit for a bank account! Maybe agree to look together at exciting alternatives.

In terms of new relationships, it would set a bad precedent anyhow to break the bank on the first Christmas – you will set the bar far too high in terms of expectations for the next 30 years and you will end up constantly in debt!

 3. Enjoy it, don’t stress

OK I admit I am a hypocrite, when I have been greeted by Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder blasting through the speakers of each high street store it does test me and raise my blood pressure. However, people, let’s remember it is meant to be a holiday, a celebration. You’ve worked hard all year (well I am sure you have!) you deserve a rest and to enjoy yourself.

This works back to numbers 1 and 2 too, the stress in the new year when that credit card statement arrives on your doorstep is NOT WORTH IT – who wants to kick the New Year off feeling stressed? Agree to your plans well before it is Christmas Eve and stick to it. If Aunty Gertrude is upset about not seeing you, then that is her problem, don’t let overbearing family dictate how you should spend your Christmas holidays.

 4. Don’t compare yourself to others

You are not the aforementioned Richard Branson. Or Lord Sugar. On a more local level, you are not your neighbour, you are not your friends. Some may be lucky enough to be jetting off for some winter sun, some may be able to afford a big shop at Tiffany’s. Good for them – don’t spend your time dwelling in envy and jealously, wish them well.

At the same time, don’t feel inadequate or consider yourself lesser than them – (tissues at the ready for this next line…) your family love you for who you are and what you have. There is no reason why your Christmas will not be just as special and just as enjoyable in Dudley and Bolton as it would be in Lanzarote, no reason why a £30 gift won’t be as cherished as much as a £1000 gift.

Each person’s Christmas is unique to them. I go back to that vision of that credit card statement in January – don’t spend money you haven’t got trying to emulate others. You are you. Take these Christmas tips very seriously and stick to your budget and you will feel better for it.

 5. It’s the gestures that count

OK, I haven’t finished with the clichés yet! You don’t have to spend much to give much! Think outside the box! There are lots of things you can do for your loved ones that they will love without spending lots of money! Have a think, use that inner creative side I am sure you have! There are things you can make, little gestures you can do, I won’t embarrass myself by revealing some of my secrets etc. but give it some thought – I promise you will be surprised by how you can do without spending a lot!

 6. Take a moment to be selfless

Remember the spirit of the occasion. Commit yourself to doing one thing each Christmas for someone else. It will be good for the soul and make your Christmas, and most importantly someone else’s Christmas a lot more enjoyable!

Is there a relative who is on their own this Christmas? A long lost friend you keep meaning to speak to but haven’t found the time? Maybe you walk past a homeless person on your way to work each morning and avoid eye contact when they ask you for help? Whatever it may be, choose your selfless act, it needn’t be big.

7. And finally on our Christmas tips:

 Top Christmas tips cannot be complete without the Christmas films. Watch the following Christmas films:

  • It’s a Wonderful Life

  • Home alone

I must stress number 7 is compulsory! – Failure to do so would be considered a crime against all that is Christmas.

So there we go, I hope reading this may help, even in a little way! So one thing left for me to say – Merry Christmas all!

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