The essential 8 week countdown to Christmas guide

The festive season is sneaking up on us...this year, don't get caught by surprise!

A festive soundtrack follows you down the High Street, turkeys are looking nervous, lights are going up in town…yep, there’s just eight weeks until Christmas! How are you coping? Are you ready?

For someone like me, a super budget conscious shopper, Christmas is always at the back of my mind throughout the year. You may think it crazy but I actually picked up all my wrapping paper in the January sales; they cost me 50p a roll, which was some way short of my 10p per roll record, but a bargain all the same!

The earlier you can prepare for Christmas the better in my opinion. It’s not just a case of avoiding all the hustle and bustle of last minute shopping, I’m also great fan of spreading the cost because trying to cover the financial burden over the course of one month can be very stressful.

That said, I appear to be in the minority…more and more of us are ordering online just a week before Christmas. That’s a testament to the improved efficiency of online shopping, but still, in my opinion having a plan goes a long way to ensuring I’m able to maximise my enjoyment at this time of year.

8 weeks to go

Firstly, you need to make sure that you can actually afford Christmas. There is no point planning to buy your brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles, cousins and work colleagues all a present for £30 each if there is no way you have the budget.

Make a list – it may sound old fashioned but Father Christmas does it. Write a list then check it twice! That way, you’ll know who you are planning to buy for, and how much you’ll be planning to spend. After totting it up, you can see if you need to make any cuts so it fits in with your budget.

There is absolutely no point stretching your budget if you just can’t afford it or, worse still, get into debt over it. Your family and friends would not want you to get into debt over Christmas – it’s just not worth it.

7 weeks to go

Are you going away for Christmas or have people coming to you? If you’re planning to travel by train then you need to book as soon as possible in advance.

Train tickets are cheapest at least three months in advance and the closer you get to the date of travel the more expensive train tickets will be.

Get online as soon as you can before travelling and don’t miss out on cashback!

6 weeks to go

Now you have your list, start swatting up on prices and shopping around. Check to see what offers are on and if there are any promotions, sales or cashback offers available. Don’t just buy an item on impulse as you may be able to find it somewhere else that bit cheaper, making your Christmas budget stretch that little bit further.

If you’re planning to bake your own Christmas cake then get making now. It’ll give plenty of time to get the best flavours, and enough time to ice it closer to the day.

Don’t miss Quidco’s Online & High Street Sales Diary

5 weeks to go

Fancy a tipple this festive season? There are loads of drinks promotions in shops in the run up to Christmas so it’s well worth stocking up early. You could also start filling the freezer with any frozen food so any shops you do closer to the 25th can have just fresher food – allowing you to budget better and not having to spend huge amounts in one go.

Also, get prepared for the deals over the Black Friday weekend. The emphasis used to be on tech sales and alike, but now there’s all sorts up for grabs.

4 weeks to go

International standard postage items need to go now; you’ve got until 4 December to send to Australia and 13 December for Western Europe. Check all the last postage dates here.

This is also a good time to review what you’ve bought to date. There is still plenty of time to do any online shopping and, if you don’t want to risk being out when packages are delivered, consider picking retailers that have click and collect services.

3 weeks to go

Get in the festive spirit by putting your tree up. If you are going for a real tree it should last through the season if you put it up now. If you’re planning to visit a Grotto then it’s better to do it earlier as well. The longer you wait, the bigger the queues will be!

Instead of walking around the supermarket getting your heels beaten by other people’s trolleys a day or so before Christmas, consider placing an online food order. Leaving it too late to do an order will certainly mean you miss out on delivery slots that book really fast at the end of December.

Get your online food shop pre-ordered now so you’ll be guaranteed a delivery slot.

2 weeks to go

If you still have any Christmas cards to send, and you’re sending them second class, then get them in the post box this week, otherwise Royal Mail won’t be able to guarantee delivery.

Hopefully you’ve got most of your presents now, in which case, get wrapping – it can take some time!!

Oh, and don’t forget your batteries. The last thing you want is to buy an awesome toy for little Jimmy that can’t be used until the shops open a few days later!

1 week to go

We’re nearly there! Get your fresh food in the final few days and as Christmas Eve approaches, fire up Norad’s Track Santa, sip on mulled wine and wait for the chaos to start!

Happy Christmas one and all. Enjoy the festive time with family! And remember to start Christmas shopping early to get the best possible deals and offers!

More on Quidco Discover

Ricky Willis / @SkintDad

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