If you’ve read and thought about my last two posts, you have an idea, or a vision, or a full-on mission statement for how you want Christmas to be, including what you don’t want it to be.
If you stop there, it probably won’t play out the way you want it to.
To have the Christmas you want, you need to put a little time into figuring out how it will all happen, rather than just hoping for the best and responding to whatever comes up.
We all have three resources we can spend on anything – our time, our energy, and our money.
In order not to over-spend our money, we often decide to spend our time and energy instead. For example, giving hand-made gifts instead of buying something expensive. Which can be an excellent idea, but especially at Christmas, we need to make sure we do not over-commit our time and energy, and end up exhausted.
To plan your time and energy get whatever type of calendar works best for you (e.g. online, notebook diary, wall calendar) and put all your current commitments on it. Work, social commitments, functions, fund raisers, family obligations, everything. If there are other people in your life who help make it possible for you to get things done, put in their commitments as well, so you know when they’re not available.
Be absolutely honest – don’t just put in the performance time for your child’s end-of-year revue, put in the whole commitment – getting ready, travel time, social time after the performance, travel time home again. Maybe even block out the time afterwards – there’s no way you’re going to feel up to doing much after all that.
Now pencil in the things you’re not yet committed to, but are part of your Sane Christmas vision. Include things like the time needed to make things, shop, cook, decorate and wrap gifts.
You may be having an ah-hah moment at how the stress of Christmases past has happened – the calendar will make it clear when your windows of opportunity to get things done actually are.
Now it’s time for the money side
To do this, pretend you’re Santa Claus: make a list and check it twice. What you’re going to buy, for who, and how much it will cost.
For your list to be any use at all you need to consider all the costs of Christmas.
Items commonly left off Christmas spending plans include gifts for pets; thank-you gifts for people like your cleaner; drink, meal and transport costs for end-of-year get togethers; the cost of supplies for home-made gifts; wrapping paper, cards and postage; and out-of-pocket expenses for travel to visit family.
Put it all in, and put in the numbers that you would like to spend. MoneyMinder Online is ideal for this kind of planning, but a simple spreadsheet or even a list on a piece of paper will be better than nothing.
Now see it adds up to. Breathe.
You may now be seeing how you ended up so over-committed and over-spent during past Christmases - there just isn't as much time as you think, and it all costs more than you realise.
The good news is that this year's Christmas hasn't happened yet. The next post will explain how to make your vision of Christmas and the reality of your life work together.