And we’re not just talking about money...
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year™, for sure, but there’s no doubt that Christmas can really take it out of you.
Before the candle’s even melted in your Hallowe’en pumpkin, the lights and decorations are going up in shops and on streets around the country, letting you know that you really must get properly shopping for that special someone and everyone else you know so you’re not cast out of the community for bulk-buying socks and slippers at the last minute.
But forget what’s under the tree – between the Christmas parties, unexpected guests and visits to the family, you’ll be left feeling spent in more ways than one come January 1st. Here, then, are a few ways you can properly hack your festive period so things go off with a bang without your health and wealth needing 11 months to fully recuperate.
Of course, we’d be remiss not to start off with your back pocket. There’s no getting around it –Christmas is an expensive time of year. But, with some proper planning, you can avoid wasteful spending. Budgeting is key. Set out a plan in advance (and it’s not too late to do it today) of all the presents you need to buy and the amount you will spend on each. With clear objectives, it will be easier to find deals and come out with money to spare, rather than throwing cash around as part of a disorganised mad-dash on Christmas Eve. If you beat your expectations on a present, you’ll have a little more for that next gift.
If you can help it, the Consumer and Consumer Protection Commission also recommends that you leave your credit card at home and use cash or a debit card instead.
When it comes to stocking up on food and supplies, double-check your presses before you hit the supermarket. There’s no point in doubling up in your haste. Finally, though this may feel counterintuitive, leave it as late as possible to buy those nonessential items. You’re more likely to save big on the last few bits and pieces when the supermarkets are getting eager to shift their stock.
If you don’t waste a whole day commuting and then grappling with fellow shoppers in overcrowded stores, online retail is the way to go. Be smart and check the website your visiting guarantees delivery before the big day.
Having people over for dinner? It’s becoming increasingly popular for the host to request guests to bring a side dish or dessert rather than a bottle of wine – saving you from slaving away in the kitchen for too long.
One for next year, maybe, but you’ll thank us come December 2017. Having to replace Christmas light bulbs is bad enough without having to deal with all that seemingly endless unravelling. To make the decorating run a little more smoothly, wrap your lights around a clothes hanger or a flat piece of cardboard when you’re storing them. Winding them around an old kitchen towel roll also works a charm. As for your ornaments, biscuit tins are perfect for storage, as are old egg cartons. Sure to stop unfortunate “crunching” noises when you’re rooting around bags in the attic.
If you’ve got a fireplace, use it this year, rather than running up big heating bills. And if not? Well, no one will judge you if you spend half your time off wearing a warm, cosy onesie and stuffing your face in front of the TV. LED Christmas lights will save you a fortune on electricity, compared to the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. Take some care when cooking up your feast as well – cook multiple things at once, always put lids on pots and just glance through the oven door to check on your bird rather than opening it.
Where possible, have yourself an ethical little Christmas. You can take your energy saving efforts to the next level by lowering the energy use and carbon footprints of your gift recipients. Why not fill those stockings with everything from smartphone chargers to hand-powered flashlights and radios? If you can get away with reusing wrapping paper, you’d be mad not to. Make some room for fair-trade products under the tree, and spread the Christmas cheer by sending out charity cards, helping out worthy causes in the process.