Your Christmas survival guide

Get Money Calm this Christmas with our top tips to make it through the festive season…

Family at Christmas

For many people, the festive season means going to parties, playing host to or visiting family, giving and receiving presents, watching Christmas specials on the TV, and some over-eating thrown in for good measure.

While all this can be great fun, it’s often a stressful time too, so to help you stay calm and prevent any festive fatigue, we’ve got eight top tips for surviving Christmas.

1)      Set yourself a budget

Shops are busy doing all they can to tempt us with festive offers – you only have to turn on the TV or listen to the radio to be bombarded by Christmas adverts – so it’s important to set yourself a budget if you want to avoid over-spending.

Allocating a set amount per person, can help prevent you getting carried away. If you think you might blow your budget, think about cutting back on your list or consider homemade gifts or plan a Secret Santa with friends and colleagues.

Make sure you don’t leave your shopping to the last minute and cause unnecessary stress trying to find the perfect gift. You’re more likely to spend more that way too, so make sure you leave yourself plenty of time.

Before you hit the shops, you should also think carefully about how you plan to pay for your presents and your Christmas food shop. If you know you’re going to have to use a credit card to cover some of your festive expenses, check the interest rate you’re currently paying on your existing card and see if you might be able to cut costs by using an alternative credit card.

2)      Spread the cooking load

Hosting Christmas and catering for lots of people can be exhausting, but you can lighten the load by asking your visitors to each do their bit.

For example, if one family brings the puddings and another comes with all the vegetables, it’ll help ease the strain and allow you to stay calm and focus on just a few things rather than trying to juggle everything.

You could even prepare some components of your dinner in advance. Gravy and stuffing can be prepared months before and frozen, so you’ll only have to defrost and reheat on the big day.

3)      Don’t miss last posting dates

There’s nothing more frustrating than getting all your Christmas presents sorted, only to discover you’ve missed the final posting date and they won’t arrive in time.

So that you can be certain you catch the last post, make a note of Royal Mail’s final Christmas posting dates now. This year, these are 18 December for second class post, 20 December for first class post and 23 December if you’re sending something by Special Delivery.

4)      Prepare your car if you’re driving home for Christmas

If you’re travelling by car to see family this Christmas, make sure you’ve got breakdown cover in place, and always check your route before you go to see if there are any delays.

It’s a good idea to keep a car survival pack in your boot too, which should include blankets, warm clothes, torches, water and non-perishable foods so that you’ve got everything you might need to keep you comfortable while you’re waiting for help to arrive.

5)      Getting along with the family

Listening to Great Uncle Eddie’s political views every Christmas might make you want to explode, but to make sure everyone stays calm, plan ahead and work out a schedule for the day.

That might involve playing games, going for a long walk, or watching a Christmas film together – anything that might help diffuse a potentially tricky situation.

6)      Prepare for cold weather

There are few things more miserable than a home with no heating, so make sure your property is prepared for every eventuality this winter. That means making sure you’ve got boiler breakdown cover sorted so that if something does go wrong, an engineer can be with you quickly to get things working again.

Remember too that your energy bills are likely to go up over the festive period as you’re likely to have the heating on for longer than usual. If you haven’t changed your gas and electricity provider for a while, see if you can make savings by switching to a cheaper gas and electricity tariff.

7)      Protect your presents

There’s little that looks more festive than presents round the tree, but unfortunately these are often a tempting target for thieves. Check your home contents insurance to see whether any extra items that will be in your home over Christmas are protected by your existing cover.

If they aren’t, it might be worth speaking to your insurer and adding any expensive items to your policy. Some insurers automatically boost the amount of insurance they provide over the festive season, so you might find you don’t have to pay any extra to do this.

8)      Plan your social schedule carefully

While it might be tempting to accept every Christmas party invite that comes your way, you don’t want to end up totally frazzled by the time the big day itself arrives. Make sure you give yourself plenty of evenings off so that you can enjoy the festive season without feeling exhausted.

That said, not everyone is lucky enough to be asked to lots of festive events, and it’s easy to feel lonely and isolated if you don’t have friends or family nearby. If you do feel down, remember that you’re not alone and there is support available. Contact The Samaritans at any time of the day or night on 116 123 if you need someone to talk to.

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