Christmas can be wonderful, but with expectations running high it can also prove stressful. Lucy Harmer, Director of Services at Independent Age, the older people’s charity, gives her practical tips for planning a more relaxing Christmas. The charity has launched a free Christmas survival guide, Your guide to a stress-free Christmas, which can be ordered free or by calling 0800 319 6789.
1 Start planning early
The earlier you start planning, the better. Our recent survey found that most people start planning their Christmas budget on October 30, but you could start much earlier. Look for bargains in sales in January and throughout the year – you could get a good deal on anything from presents to decorations and crackers.
2 Set a budget and stick to it
It’s easy for the cost of Christmas to spiral, with presents, outings, outfits, decorations, food and drink all playing a part. Set a budget well in advance and work out how much you will need to save towards it each month. Try Independent Age’s online Christmas calculator to get started.
3 Talk to friends and family
If you’re worried about Christmas spending getting out of hand, have a conversation with your friends and family about how much you will spend on each other’s presents so everyone is spending about the same amount. Limit the gifts you buy to just close friends and family if budgets are tight, and consider setting an age limit for children, e.g. stop giving gifts when they turn 18.
4 Book travel early
If you are travelling by train or public transport, you are more likely to get better prices if you book early, especially if you’re booking in a group. You may also be eligible to buy a railcard or bus/coach pass which could help you save money.
5 Plan visits carefully
If you’ll be visiting relatives, or they’ll be visiting you, don’t forget to think about practicalities. Will you be able to cope with their stairs? How will you feel about being in a noisier household with disruptions to your routine? If it isn’t possible to stay with each other, you could consider alternatives like staying in a nearby hotel, visiting just for the day, or meeting in a restaurant instead.