How to prepare for your Christmas now
Did you ever hear about Christmas in July? Yes, it’s a comedy movie from the 1940s (still haven’t watched it). It’s also the Aussies way of celebrating a traditional Christmas in the cooler temperatures. Most of the country is experiencing temperatures of 35 C and above at Christmas. So it’s no wonder they prefer some shrimps on the barbie over a big stuffed bird.
If you’re not in Australia, you may still have a peaceful and stress-free Christmas with our simple tips to prepare for yours in December!
Decide where you’ll celebrate
For most of us being expats in this region, staying here, flying home or travelling somewhere else is probably the most important question.
If you’re flying home, keep an eye out for offers. Do you have any flexibility in your dates? That can reduce your air fare by a bit. The same applies if you’re willing to forget about the direct flight and choose one with 1 or more layovers.
Are you a frequent traveller collecting miles? While peak seasons are generally blacked out, your programme and travel dates may still allow you to book a mileage flight. Check it out.
Do you prefer to explore a new location and treat yourself to a real holiday? Start your research and narrow down possible destinations. How will the weather be over Christmas? If it’s rainy or very hot, perhaps you could snap a bargain. Just be aware why it’s cheap!
If you’re staying at home, will you host relatives or friends? Will they need to stay with you or would a hotel be a better option? Sign up for hotel newsletters to learn about special rates.
Set your budget
Once you know where you’ll be for Christmas, you can start creating your budget.
It will make such a difference, putting smaller amounts every week and months than to scrap up a big chunk of money.
Items you may need if you’re going away are:
- Train tickets
- Car rental
- Hotel room, if not staying with relatives or friends
- Holiday package
- New clothes, especially if you’re going to a colder destination and you don’t have any winter gear
- Roaming package
Whether you’re staying at home or are going away, you may have other expenses like:
- (Special) Food and entertainment
- Gifts and wrapping
- Christmas cards and postage
- Tree and decorations
- Family pictures
- Special family activities
- Christmas activities at your kid’s school
- Dinners and drinks with friends
- Work parties
- Charitable contributions
There are plenty of ways to reduce your expenses for Christmas. Instead of mailing Christmas cards with a family picture taken in an expensive studio, ask your aspiring photographer friend to shoot some pictures which you’ll email to your friends and family.
Look at your 2018 expenses as an indication for what you may need this year. There’s no reason to go into debt for holiday. If a big Christmas celebration is very important to you, adjust your current budget, identify ways to tighten the belt now and set the savings aside.
To not touch your Christmas fund, open up a specific online account. Transfer your weekly or monthly savings amounts directly into it. A direct debit on your pay day can automate your savings and make it so much easier for you!
Limit the gifts
Let’s face it. Most of us are very well of. We don’t always recognise it. But we are.
Are gifts really necessary? This year, you may wish to simply opt out!
Not ready for that yet? Consider one or more of these options for your gift exchange:
- Limit the amount of gifts that can be given to anyone (this has the beautiful side effective that something meaningful for the recipient is generally selected)
- Set a spending budget per person (this way you can control costs)
- Limit the number of recipients (especially for larger families and groups, you may want to have a Secret Santa where each person only gets or makes a present for one other person)
- Give to children only (adults normally have everything and you hopefully don’t want to clutter their home)
- Limit the gifts to self-made presents (now this may require some creativity, food is very often a beautiful hand-made gift option)
As soon as you know how you’re gifting, you can already look out for presents. If you’re allowed to buy something, keep your eyes open for specials.
Christmas is every year. There’s no need to rack up heaps of debts and get super stressed. If you’re like us, don’t worry your family is probably going to do that – without even realising it. So, get your finances under control now and enjoy a smooth and peaceful preparation for your Christmas 2019!
Now we need to ask you. What would you like to try with your family this Christmas?
Until next time,