17 ways to prepare for Christmas

Planning ahead will have you smiling serenely through the festivities but you’ve got to know where to start. Here’s our ultimate guide to ensure Christmas cheer…

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Ever noticed how Christmas creeps up on you? It seems ages away now, but before you know it you’ll be running around the supermarket trying to find the last jar of cranberry sauce. And now you’ve got a little one, there’s even more to juggle.

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Start preparations now, however, and you might actually start looking forward to hoards of guests, giant turkeys and flashing toys (we promise!). “If you plan ahead, Christmas can be peaceful and fun. If you’re relaxed, your family will be relaxed,” says life coach Diana Parkinson (www.dianaparkinson.co.uk). Sounds great! Here’s how to get started…

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Get gift listing

If you have older tots, they’ve probably already got must-haves on their lists, so start asking them. It’s the only way to avoid tears on Christmas Day because something’s sold out. Make a list and note down exact makes and models. Well, who wants Toy Story 2 now that it’s all about Toy Story 3?

“I’m forever making lists,” says Rachel Jones, 33, from Chester, mum to Tom, 2, and Joseff, 1. “Particularly lists of where I’ve stashed everything. With another baby due in December, everything has to be done early so I started on pressies for the boys in July.”

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Forget hitting the shops – just get a ‘kiddie’ personal shopper to do the job for you!

No more impulse buying

“It’s very easy to get distracted when you’re out shopping with everything that’s on display, so a clear list will help to stop those impulse buys,” says Diana.

Impulse buying leads to cupboards full of random items and a messed-up Christmas budget. Stay away from temptation if you’re shopping for a certain item by not going into departments
or stores that don’t stock it.

Try this…

Ask people to set up a wish list on www.amazon.co.uk. They can add anything they like, even from different sites, for anyone to view, and there’s no chance of you losing it, like you might a piece of paper. You could also try older tots on this, sitting with them while they browse.

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How much do you spend on your childrens christmas presents?

Divide the presents

When you’ve got an idea what your tots would like, spread the present-buying out among relatives so you know who’s getting what and there aren’t any double-ups on Christmas morning.

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Spread the cost

“It makes real sense to have a separate savings account for Christmas costs in the run-up to December,” suggests financial planner Martin Bamford (www.icl-ifa.co.uk).

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“This means you can also take your time to find the right presents at a good price, rather than being rushed into buying expensive last-minute gifts when you’re caught up in the Christmas rush,” adds Martin. And if you don’t want to use it yet, don’t open the PIN number when the cash card arrives.

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