Have you started planning for Christmas yet? I’m really looking forward to it this year. I love the festive season anyway, but this year I’m especially looking forward to the break from work as it’s been a busy few months since I started a new job this autumn. This year I thought I’d try getting ahead of things by squirrelling away Christmas-related items each week before we actually get to the holidays to spread the cost. It’s easy enough to source these things – after all, the shops have been brimming with Christmas tat since September! But I thought it might also be a good way to take advantage of some bargains and to avoid the December rush.Of course, it isn’t possible to buy everything ahead of time. I was tempted last week by some all butter mince pies for sale in our local Sainsbury’s, for example, but then they will go off before Christmas. I would happily eat them now but I think I might have trouble fitting into my work trousers. And that’s before the Christmas feasting itself begins. We’re all bound to put on a few pounds during the holidays, but I don’t want to start off that way if I can help it.
So far we’ve managed to take advantage of some booze bargains we’ve seen on offer – picking up some cut-price Chilean Casillero del Diablo (cellar of the devil – a bit of a favourite in our house) merlot last weekend and some reasonably-priced cava. The tricky thing, though, is not being tempted to drink it before the 25th December so I have separated the Christmas items from the normal household items. So far we have the red wine, cava, a Christmas pud, Christmas cards and wrap squirrelled away in a box in the spare room. I’m also saving my up Nectar points with the idea that I can spend them on Christmas food or put them towards presents too.
Last weekend Doug and I were browsing in Wilkinson’s in St Albans, looking at the wine-making kits, and we started wondering about whether it might be a good idea to get some homemade beer on the go for the festive season. It takes about six weeks to make, so now would be a good time to get it going. The problem is that, with still lots of our belongings in boxes in various rooms in the rental house, neither of us is too sure where Doug’s brewing kit is. We’ll have to have a root around to see if we can find it.
Now that we’ve been renting in Hertford for a year, we’ve unpacked most of the things that we use all the time but lots of other things remain in boxes. This is not only from laziness (although obviously that has played a part…) but also because we’ve been house-hunting much of the year and thought it wasn’t worth unpacking things that we would just end up repacking again. But, with nothing much on the market at the moment, who knows how long it will be before we need to do that? I’ve also wondered that if we haven’t used some of these things in boxes by now, whether we really need them. There may very well be some things that we could either take to the charity shop or sell online. Perhaps during the holidays it might be a good idea to go through these boxes and take a look.
This morning I found a half-used jar of goose fat we bought from our local farm shop last year and saw that the best before date says 2015, so I’m wondering whether this will still be OK to use this Christmas, rather than have to buy a new jar as they can be expensive. Meanwhile, we’re still deciding what to have for Christmas dinner this year. Last year we had a delicious joint of beef raised on the same local farm – Foxholes Farm. It was gorgeous, melt in your mouth stuff. I’ve been wondering about whether to have turkey this year but the problem is that, when there’s just two or three of you for Christmas dinner, you end up eating it for days and getting fed up with it. So I’m wondering if chicken, duck or beef might be better options.
Next up is planning the Christmas presents. My Mum has already been organised and has started asking us what we would like, so that is in the works, which is good. Then hopefully that will allow us to spread the cost of Christmas and avoid any nasty financial surprises in January. I always like to set a budget per head when I’m buying Christmas presents so that I can stay within my spending limits.
Meanwhile, I was invited to go on the Chrissie B talk show on Friday night, broadcast on Sky channel 203, to talk about living frugally. It was great fun and I met a lovely crafty lady from Lincolnshire called Michelle who is also a blogger. She is sending me her details so that I can tell you more about her blog soon. The show will be available to view on YouTube in a week’s time so, in case you fancy a peek, I will be posting the link here. In the meantime, do get in touch and let me know how your plans for Christmas are going.
Have you started planning your Christmas spending yet? How will you be saving money this year? Do get in touch and let me know.
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