Friday, October 15, 2010

Christmas Ideas to Keep the Cost and Stress Down

Every year it seems to get more difficult to come up with fresh, affordable Christmas ideas. Whether you need Christmas gift ideas, Christmas party ideas or Christmas card ideas (or probably all of the above!), you need to give it a lot of thought if you want to come up with original, affordable ideas.

The key is to give yourself as much time as possible. A lot of the shops are already in full swing with their Christmas decorations and Christmas music by October, and every bar and restaurant is urging you to book early for your Christmas party or lunch. You probably can't believe it's started already, and you don't really want to think about it for another two months, but it makes sense to start planning now. That way you avoid the last-minute, panic shopping and rushed preparations that end up with you spending much more than you planned.

A little bit of thought and preparation, as well as keeping your eyes open throughout the year for sale bargains that can be stored until Christmas, will make everything a lot less stressful and a lot more affordable, as well as spreading the cost over a longer period.

When it comes to Christmas presents, everyone gets carried away with the latest "must-have" toys and presents. With the amount of advertising that we're all subjected to, it's easy to get caught up in the frenzy. But it doesn't have to be that way, and it's also not true that the more expensive the gift, the more it's appreciated. It might be old hat, but it really is true that "it's the thought that counts". People appreciate gifts that are personal to them and their tastes rather than something that big marketing departments are trying to tell you that you want. Just give yourself enough time to give it the thought it deserves and come up with original, personalized ideas.

Christmas entertaining is one of the best parts of the Christmas festivities, and it's easy to keep it affordable. Throwing a festive Christmas party is a great way to celebrate the season, gathering friends and family together at home, and there are a number of things that you can do to keep control of the cost and still have fun.

One of the best ways is to have a potluck party, where each person or family contributes a dish of food or drink. A potluck party is not only a great way to keep the costs down, it's also a time saver for you, and the perfect way of entertaining at this very busy time of year for people who would like to gather with friends but are too busy with everything else that needs to be done. It helps reduce the stress too.

However, just like any party, potluck parties do require some planning. If you don't plan at all, you could end up having only desserts and no entrees. The best way to avoid this is simply to ask guests to bring a dish for a particular course.

What about Christmas present ideas? One of the best times to buy Christmas cards is in the January sales. Christmas cards don't go out of fashion, so you can buy them for next to nothing after Christmas and keep them until next year.

Some people have stopped sending Christmas cards, preferring to send a Christmas email and make a donation to a charity instead. However, Christmas cards bought from the charity are very reasonably priced, the charity gets the proceeds and you still get to send traditional cards, which are much nicer to send and receive than an email! Buying your gifts from charity catalogues has the same benefits.

Another good tip is to use the cards you received last year to cut up and make into gift tags.

As you can see, once you put your mind to it and give yourself a bit more time to plan, it's easy to come up with lots of Christmas ideas that are original and affordable, as well as helping to reduce the stress and strain on you and your credit card.


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