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"It's too early to think about Christmas...right?"

Why now’s the best time to prepare for the season...
Written by: Adele Halsall

September is here, with it bringing slightly shorter days, rainier weather and perhaps the odd red leaf or two.

While we’re dreaming about new-season boots and pumpkin-spice lattes, it may be useful to also think about the time of year we know is also coming up…

Yup. We mean Christmas.

But before you go screaming in the opposite direction, hear us out. It’s not completely crazy to start thinking about the festive period now...espesh if you want to feel all smug and chilled come December.
Here are a few ways you can use September to your advantage and start getting ready for the most wonderful time of the year in advance.

1. Start saving now.

Rihanna Money

We know it’s not what you want to hear, but the best way to avoid the credit card debt is to start saving for Christmas now.

Just think about it - by putting away a small, manageable amount each month, you could save yourself a ton of potential debt or overdraft usage.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Make a list of everyone in your life you intend to buy a gift for.
  2. Set a spend limit per person. (This will probably vary depending on their relationship to you. A handy rule of thumb for those outside close family is to spend what was gifted to you last year.)
  3. Add up your spend limits to give you the maximum total you’ll be spending.
  4. Divide that total by the number of months left to Christmas (i.e. four).

This is the amount you need to save each month.

You’ll often find that the amount you need to put away each month is less than you think. Some tips for saving even more are:

  1. Use your ‘Under-Budget’ cash. This is the scraps of money that may be left over each month after you pay your bills and groceries, for example, or if something happens to come in under budget. It may only be £5 here or £20 there, but those small amounts can add up quick. Throw it in your Christmas fund.
  2. Open a savings account, specially for Christmas. If you already have a savings account, then use that, but it’s best to have the money kept separate where you won’t see it or be tempted to spend it on other things. (Like on-hand cash stored in a drawer, for example.)
  3. Saving apps like Chip or Squirrel can be really useful in helping you stash a few extra pennies away.
  4. Have a clear-out and sell the things you don’t need. Not only does help get your house ready for Christmas, it could also bring in some unexpected dollar on eBay or Gumtree.

2. Learn to make your money go further

Shopping Online

We know that ‘budgeting’ may be a word that sends shivers down your spine…but at Christmas, it is your friend.

Although a spending limit for each person will certainly help with keeping costs controlled, there are other things you can do to shave off any unnecessary spending and make your money go further.

  1. Make the most of the end-of-summer bargains. Niches that tend to drop prices at this time of year include crafts/stationery, clothing, laptops, outdoor or camping gear and luggage.
  2. Be on the ball for Black Friday and Cyber Monday and get ready to score some massive deals. However, make sure you have a list and set a spending limit for each day.
  3. Think about making some gifts by hand. If you have a special skill, such as knitting or sewing, baking cookies, ceramics, woodwork, painting or sculpture, for example, you could easily make something beautiful and heartfelt for a loved one. The chances are they’ll appreciate it more, too.
  4. Pick up essentials early, such as crackers, decorations, lights etc. They’ll be cheaper at this time of year.
  5. Consider sending all of your Christmas cards via email this year. At a cost of 60p for a first class stamp, you could save £18 for sending 30 cards!

3. Get gift ideas early

Gift Ideas

Use this time of year to get plenty of gift ideas early on. It’s often easier right now, when everybody is still coming out of the summer haze, rather than panic-buy items in a rush come December.

Here are some tips for getting that idea factory churning:

  1. Get your loved ones to make an Amazon wishlist. It’s a pretty easy, and dare we say it lazy way to figure out what your friends and fam are crushing on. You can check if they already have a wishlist by searching their Amazon name under ‘Find a Wishlist’.
  2. Use the end of summer as inspiration. From November onwards, everybody is so preoccupied with
  3. Christmas they’re unlikely to think about things they really need. Think back over the last few months over anything your friends might have used, talked about, needed, ran out of, or broken.
  4. Use the ‘four gift rule’ when buying for partners or close family members. This was initially created for children, but it works for your peers too. The rules ‘want, need, wear, read’ can focus the mind and spring a lot of ideas.
  5. Vintage items are always a winner with friends, and are also a great way to connect with teenagers.
  6. When it comes to kids, anything techy is usually a good way to go.
  7. If you see something you like for yourself when shopping (who doesn’t?!) try to think of who else might like that thing, and buy it for them.
  8. If in serious doubt, try a personal shopping service, like Selfridge’s. Morning sessions are best as they allow more time to look around the store and have the shopping advisor all to yourself.

4. Start planning your Christmas do

Christmas

It might seem a bit early to be thinking about it, but venues often book up incredibly fast for Christmas.

In order to avoid missing out on your fave drinking spot, it’s a good idea to start thinking about your Christmas party - whether it’s for friends, family or colleagues.

  1. Find out how many will be attending. The venue you choose will depend greatly on the size of the gathering. Will you require a private booth, area or a whole venue? Many of London’s bars and restaurants have various options to choose from.
  2. Decide what kind of party it will be. Will it just be a chilled, intimate dinner and drinks? Will you need your own dining area? Or will a casual finger buffet be more preferred? Many of London’s venues have a choice of dining options for parties of different sizes, so you’re bound to be able to find something that suits your guests.
  3. Enquire early!! It’s always best to enquire at a few different venues you fancy, so you won’t be disappointed if your first choice is fully booked. By creating an account with Late Night London, you’ll be able to send enquiries to several venues at once - saving you tons of time and energy!

Take a look at our handy guide on how to plan the office Christmas party for more tips and inspiration.

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