It’s only the end of September but already Christmas has made its way to the supermarket shelves…
Probably too late to stock up on festive stuff ready for the season, right? Nope! There’s still time to get a head start on the big day, on a minimal to zero budget. Here are ten things you should be sourcing now to ensure you’re ready for a wonderfully festive Christmas at home this year.
- Pick up pinecones, acorns and teasels on your dog walks. It’s too early to be collecting foliage like holly and ivy for your table decorations and wreaths, but don’t leave it til December to decide you’d like to add some forest decor to your dining room, only to end up buying a bag of them from a craft shop for a tenner (or worse, a Christmas market!)
- Winter spices in your weekly shop. Think cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise for making batches of mulled wine or baking in the oven with orange slices to create that heavenly Christmas scent. These items will increase in price closer to Christmas so get yours now.
- Small or unusually shaped glass jars heading for recycling. Set aside any little jam pots, chutney jars or quirky alcohol bottles from now until Christmas. You could use them for making candles, filling with homemade bath bombs or sweeties, or decanting sloe gin into for thoughtful, homemade gifts. A bit of brown twine tied with a handwritten label and you’re good to go.
- Pieces of fabric at least A4 size. Most people have a pre-Christmas purge of clothing as the summer wardrobe is packed away and the sweaters reappear. Before you send that tatty cardigan to the recycling bin, think whether you could repurpose it for festive bunting, or Japanese furoshiki style wrapping of Christmas gifts.
- Small cardboard boxes or padded envelopes. There’s nothing more infuriating that having to spend a small fortune on a ‘packing box’ at the post office to send a last minute gift, when you’ve probably sent a million amazon boxes to the recycling in the previous weeks. Keep hold of any small ones you receive from now on, you can flat pack them til you need them and the labels peel off so easily, if you have family far and wide to ship things to it’ll save you a small fortune.
- Stocking fillers and small gifts. If you already have a good idea of ‘stocking filler’ items you generally gift for Christmas, like face masks, hair ties, socks, nail varnish, bubble bath, make up, small toys, slippers, aftershave, books, sweets and chocolate, buy these items now whilst they’re probably on offer. Most edible items will have a 2023 expiration date on by now, so add a few bits to your shopping now to spread the cost and save some money. Most Christmas chocolate is on offer right now so buy it cheap whilst everyone else is thinking about Halloween.
- Alcohol. Unless you’re an alcohol free household you will probably need a stash of the hard stuff for the festive season, either for yourselves or for visiting guests. Brandy for baking, whiskey for hot toddies, champagne for celebrating and port for after dinner tipples are all on my September shopping list.
- Christmas craft items. If you usually keep the kids busy with a gingerbread house build, make your own centrepieces with copper wire hoops wrapped in foliage, or cook up your own bath bombs/candles/lip balms/lavender pillows for gifting, order your supplies for these now, before demand increases. I’m running a wreath making workshop in December and recently ordered my wire hoops and florist wire for a very reasonable price. If i’d left it til the end of October the price would have more than tripled (talking from unfortunate experience…)
- Snacks, snacks, snacks! There is nothing worse than a friend or neighbour dropping by and having nothing to offer them other than some half stale crackers and questionable cheese, or black tea because you’ve run out of milk. Buy a few packs of nice biscuits and a carton of UHT milk and hide them in the back of the cupboard away from everyone! Stock up on healthy grazing snacks for the kids too, Christmas is the season of sugar so have to hand easy alternatives to the chocolate box.
- Dig out the re-gifts and get them ready. You will likely have items you or your children have been gifted that remain unopened and in gift condition. Find them, pop them in a box labelled ‘gifts’ and put some plain tissue paper and tape in there (but don’t get ahead of yourself and wrap them or you’ll likely forget what you have). If a guest pops by unannounced, or you’ve forgotten to buy a party host a gift and are running short on time, you have a ready to go stash of gifts to go and won’t have that last minute panic of trying to find an open store at 5pm on a Sunday, in the depths of winter.
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Happy festive prepping everyone!