How To Prepare For Perfect Christmas By Planning Ahead?

Two people toasting with glasses of champagne with a christmas tree behind them.

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be a very stressful period for many. With so much to do and limited time in which to get it all done, it’s easy for the stress levels to rise and for Christmas preparations to feel like more of a burden than anything else. The key to making this time of year much less stressful is getting organized ahead of time. Preparing early will help you save time later, spend less money and allow you to relax and enjoy the festivities rather than run around like a maniac trying to check things off your list. Getting organized isn’t as hard as you might think— here are some great ideas on how to Prepare for Christmas By Planning Ahead this year so that you can enjoy the holiday instead of running in circles trying to find things last-minute.

Christmas gifts amongst the Christmas lights.

1. Set Your Christmas Budget

Nothing is more stressful than realising you cannot pay off your credit card bills after going on a shopping spree over the festive period, right? That’s why it is important to set your budget ahead of time and set money aside each month, so you can have the best time over Christmas without any regrets or worries after the holidays are over.

Consider what you can afford to put aside each month leading up to Christmas. Then think about what you are actually willing to spend. And stick to your plan. Consider all the things that will add to the overall cost of the festive period:

  • Gifts and wrapping paper
  • Cards
  • Food
  • New clothes
  • Events and parties
  • Decorations etc.

Accept that you may need to compromise on some things – maybe you will not be able to afford a new Christmas Jumper this year, maybe you will need to consider one or two of the Free Gift Ideas this Christmas – but whatever it takes, stick to the budget you set out for yourself! After all, Christmas is all about spending quality time together and making memories, not material things! For more tips on planning Christmas On A Budget, head to our Ultimate Guide For Frugal Christmas.

a yound woman on a sofa with a notebook, and a pen in her mouth.

2. Make A List Of People To Buy/ Make Christmas Gifts For

Planning your Christmas Gifts ahead of time will really help you get organised. First of all, start a list of all the people you want to give a present to over the festive period. Note any ideas that you may already have, or note the amount of money that you think you can spend on their gifts. Consider making some gifts (like cookies or handmade wreaths to save money, if you need to).

Add to this list as you speak to your friends and family members and get new ideas (or not-so-subtle hints) from them about what they would like for Christmas. This way you will have a complete list of gifts to buy ahead of time, and you can then benefit from any discounts and deals that pop up if you keep an eye on prices.

What is more, a list of people to prepare presents for can help you make some lovely edible Christmas gifts in advance. Maybe you could make use of your summer harvest from the garden to make lovely jams and chutneys in the summer/autumn months to stay on top of the game, reduce stress leading up to Christmas and save money along the way.

3. Make A Christmas Card List

If you are posting Christmas Cards this year, get organized at least a month in advance. There is nothing more annoying than trying to find the address of a friend who’s recently moved or realising that you don’t know the name of your nephew’s new girlfriend.

Make that Christmas card list of people and their addresses, check if you have any leftover Christmas cards from last year, and buy/ or make just a couple more than you need (in case you make new friends leading up to Christmas).

We have a whole article on how to save money on Christmas Cards this year for you to read too!

a christmas card reading 'collect moments not things'.
champagne being poured into three flutes with sparkles around them.

4. Decide On Events You’re Going to Host and The Ones You’re Going To Attend

Are you hosting a family Christmas Dinner this year? Or maybe Christmas Eve? Are you going to your friend’s house on Boxing Day? Get your Christmas timeline organized ahead of time. Write down the events you will be hosting yourself and people who you’ll invite (this will help you plan the meals, drinks and activities later). And if you are planning on going to parties elsewhere, consider what you may want to take with you: a cooked meal, a bottle of wine or maybe a small gift.

Don’t forget that there are lots of festive events (some free of charge) that you may be interested in attending over Christmas. Make sure to check your local event websites and pencil them in.

5. Get Organized With Decorations

Do you have a hundred boxes in the loft of Christmas decorations, some of which you haven’t touched in years? It’s about time to sort through them. Get rid of any Christmas lights that do not work, any broken bobbles or old-fashioned decorations that you simply cannot stand the look of.

If you need to buy new decorations, make a list of what you’d like to get. Make sure they’re within your budget. If you get organised months ahead of Christmas (better yet, straight after Christmas, you will be able to save a ton of money buying things on out-of-season outlets).

6. Plan Christmas Dinner and Other Festive Meals

There are a few things to consider when planning festive meals:

  • Your budget! If you are on a tight budget this year, we have put together a lower-cost festive Christmas dinner menu for you to try.
  • Dietary requirements, allergies and food intolerances: consider who’s attending your parties and you make sure you cater for vegans, celiacs or any other requirements your guests may have.
  • Amount of food to cook to prevent waste. Christmas would not be Christmas if there weren’t a ton of leftovers. But save some money and avoid wasting food by carefully planning portion sizes and only cooking more of things that can then be frozen or used to make other meals.
  • Don’t forget to plan festive breakfast and snack options that are easy enough to feed the crowd (you don’t want to miss Christmas by cooking all day long) and can be made ahead of time.
  • Think about alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to go alongside your food.
  • Decide what days you will be going shopping for food and make sure to have a carefully crafted shopping list before you go.

7. Plan Activities For Adults and Children

If you have family or friends visiting over Christmas, plan some things that you can all do so that the time you spend together is special and memorable. Consider what board games you have, think about scenic local walks (that may be needed in between those huge Christmas meals) and prepare a corner for the children to play and interact.

Family and friends playing charades in a dark room decorated with Christmas lights.

If you are expecting to spend the majority of your time in the kitchen cooking some delicious Christmas food, make sure to get everyone involved, so you are not alone in the kitchen. Find some easy kid-friendly recipes that they can help with. Or at least create a Christmas song playlist on Spotify to enjoy some festive music whilst you cook and chat with your friends.

8. House Cleaning Plan

Ok, let’s get real now. As lovely as this period can be, most of us deep clean the house before Christmas (especially if we have lots of visitors). Make a day-by-day plan with small actionable tasks, so you don’t get overwhelmed with everything a day before your guests arrive.

Don’t try and do everything yourself. Divide the cleaning plan room by room or by task by task and ask everyone to help.

If you have family or friends staying over, make sure you have a sleeping plan and bedding and towels ready for them.

Three people in a spatious room, each holding a cleaning tool.

9. Don’t Forget The Basics

Christmas can be overwhelming, we get it! And with all the concentration on gifts, decorations and cooking the food, some basic things tend to slip out of your mind. Think about:

  • What are you going to wear?
  • Do you have enough shampoo and other toiletries (especially if you have a lot of people staying over)?
  • What about kitchen essentials: foil, baking parchment, washing up liquid?
  • Napkins and tablecloths are something we always forget. Are they clean and ironed?
  • Does your boiler, dishwasher or oven need servicing?
  • When is your bin collection date around Christmas? You don’t want full bins heading into the Christmas week!

10. Start Implementing Your Plan Earlier Than You Think You Should

Planning a perfect Christmas is a process that will require some time and lots of thinking, but don’t forget that the plan needs to be executed. That’s why we suggest you make a detailed calendar with day-by-day tasks that need to be completed and all the events that you have over the holidays. If you are celebrating Christmas as a family, don’t forget to assign a person responsible for the task – yes, it may not sound very Christmassy to delegate and assign responsibility, but it will make everyone happier in the end. Having a feeling of contributing will give your family members a sense of achievement and having contributed to the perfect Christmas!

Get the jobs that can be completed ahead of time out of the way months before the Christmas frenzy: nothing is more stressful than shopping in crowded stores and not even knowing what you’re looking for.

So get organized! Grab your plan and stick to it! That way you can relax over Christmas and see all your hard work pay off!

a desk with a vase with red flowers, laptopm and notebooks on it, one of which says 'I have a plan' on the cover.

BONUS TIP: Invest In A Christmas Planner

No, we’re not talking bout a person who will plan everything for you! We are talking about a journal that will help you get organized and ensure you don’t miss a thing in preparing for the most wonderful time of the year! A book full of tips, prompts to think about and lists to fill in will make you feel in control and on track to having the most perfect Christmas that your family and friends will never forget.

For more Christmas planning tips and tricks, visit our guide on How To Save Money On Christmas Cards and Free Christmas Gift Ideas. And if you don’t want to miss out on other valuable advice on best practices around holidays and in everyday life, receive them straight to your inbox by joying our loyal subscriber community below.

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