This post is part of my 10 week Christmas planning series. You can find the rest of the series here.
I have had two seemingly contradictory planning foci running through my mind at the moment.
I have an overwhelming desire to simplify our family life. Simplify the amount of stuff we have, simplify the amount of stuff we do and simplify how we manage some of the day to day running of the house.
While having these thoughts, my content plan for the blog was telling me that it is now only 10 weeks to Christmas. I love the Christmas season, love gift giving and Christmas decorating, which can easily run counter to simplifying things for me.
But upon giving it some further consideration, I realised that I have a choice. I can still enjoy Christmas with my usual traditions and keep it simple by taking a more mindful approach.
There are many things I would love to do and that I have done in previous years that won’t happen this year. Things like a day in the city with the kids, volunteering and making my own Christmas tags but with my workload over the next couple of months and working on my goal of family harmony I have accepted that I cannot do it all.
Coming to this conclusion at the start of my Christmas planning session is a much better way for me to manage this, rather than adding these activities to my list only to work out I have considerably over loaded myself. I am then torn between wanted to drop off activities and wanted to do them so I can tick them off my list!
Steps to create a simple 10 week Christmas plan
Each year I have a 10 week Christmas plan. The plan doesn’t list all the things I need to do for Christmas, but it lists the key tasks I want to complete and it helps me to spread the workload. If you have never created a plan for Christmas, here are my tips on creating a simple 10 week plan:
- Start with a budget. It is important to make sure you know how much you can spend at Christmas and then track your expenditure along the way so you meet budget.
- Write down all the things you would like to undertake to create the Christmas you want for 2014.
- Arrange the list in priority of importance. There is generally more you will want to do than you will have time for. Cull off the activities that are not critical to making your Christmas a happy family celebration.
- Allocate 1 – 2 items a week to your plan.
- Print the plan out and place it somewhere of prominence.
- Block time out in your diary to undertake the tasks. Unless you do this, a week will pass by and you will not have worked on an Christmas based activity. You can afford this to happen for one week, but do this for a couple of weeks in a row and you will have some very busy weeks in the lead up to Christmas.
- Involve the family where you can. Christmas is a family time, so it makes sense that it isn’t only you undertaking the work to make the celebration happen.
This is what my 10 week Christmas plan looks like for 2014. The aim for this year is to create a simple and enjoyable Christmas, sustaining family harmony along the way:
- 10 weeks to go – review and set Christmas budget
- 9 weeks to go – start a Christmas present ideas spreadsheet
- 8 weeks to go – begin process for making Christmas cards
- 7 weeks to go – undertake first round of Christmas present shopping
- 6 weeks to go – create Christmas menu plan
- 5 weeks to go – make Christmas gifts for kids to give to their class mates
- 4 weeks to go – have a family session making Christmas decorations
- 3 weeks to go – make Christmas gifts for friends
- 2 weeks to go – make Christmas table setting
- 1 week to go – make last minute homemade Christmas food gifts
Christmas budget for 2014
As the budget review process doesn’t actually change, nor does the spreadsheet I use, this part is the similar to a previous years.
I have found the best was to keep expenditure under control at this time of the year is to have a budget and track expenditure against it. This is what our Christmas Budget Spreadsheet looks like:
We have another spreadsheet that is integral to keeping us on budget. It tracks expenditure on all Christmas presents, for family and friends. Also by documenting what presents we buy each year, we have a comprehensive list to refer to, preventing buying people the same thing year after year.
Both of these spreadsheets can be found in the one file and you can download a template here Planning With Kids Christmas Planning Spreadsheet.
I have added protection to the cells in the spreadsheets that have formulas, to prevent any accidental overriding. It is not password protected, so if you wish to unprotect these cells, just go to “Tools”, then “Protection’ and then “Unprotect sheet” (this is for excel on a Mac.).
Spending on kids at Christmas
Last year I ran a survey to find out how much other families were spending on kids at Christmas. The survey gave some great info which you can read here:
- Spending on kids at Christmas – the results from the survey showing how much on average families are spending.
- 33 parent tips for saving money at Christmas – a collection of the best savings tips that parents submitted in the survey.
Do you plan for Christmas, leave it all to a couple of weeks in December or are you somewhere in between?