Christmas countdown is on! Here’s your week-by-week to-do list

’Tis the season to be jolly, not stressed. Tick off your Christmas tasks using this six-week guide to take some last-minute panic out of the silly season.

The number of sleeps before Christmas is dwindling fast and there’s often a lot to do and not enough time.

But a little preparation this festive season can save you money and headaches.

Six weeks before Christmas: Set a spending plan

“Most people go Christmas shopping and think ‘that will be nice for X’ and that will be great for Y’,” says financial adviser Helen Baker.

“They spend $100 on one person, realise they’ve spent less on someone else and buy something else to even things up.

“List everyone you need to buy for and add up the cost. Are you OK with spending that much? If not, trim the amounts or take people off the list to suit your budget.”

Five weeks before Christmas: Research your gift list

Figure out what you want to buy – and let the bargain-hunting begin. Keep an eye on sales events like Black Friday (November 27 in 2020) and Cyber Monday (November 30).

“Look online but check shipping costs to make sure you are still getting a bargain. If you’re shopping online, do it now to ensure gifts arrive on time,” says Helen.

With international travel off limits for some time, think about redeeming loyalty and frequent flyer points to buy gifts now.

But beware of online scams in the lead-up to Christmas. Bogus companies can place scam ads, take your money and never deliver.

“We encourage everyone to do their research before making an online purchase and if purchasing expensive goods, not to make payment until they have inspected the product,” says Delia Rickard, deputy chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

christmas planning

Four weeks before Christmas: Plan your meal

If you want to add some tradition to your Christmas lunch, now is the time to bake a Christmas Cake and store it so it can mature.

“Bulk buy Christmas foods, beers and wines now to save money. Buy with a friend and split the costs,” says Helen, author of On Your Own Two Feet.

Three weeks before Christmas: DIY decorations

Make new Christmas decorations – kids will love creating a festive wreath or star for the tree.

Use items you already have in your home or garage to reinforce the importance of sustainability and recycling.

Planet Ark’s Recycled Arts and Crafts Guide has easy-to-make ideas that are kind to your pocket and the earth.

Two weeks before Christmas: Prep for guests

If you’re hosting family and friends outside, tidy your backyard and clean decking with a high-pressure cleaner and a scrubbing brush.

Wooden tables and chairs can be cleaned with a quarter cup ammonia, two tablespoons white vinegar and one quart of warm water.

One week before Christmas: Avoid the last-minute rush

Start wrapping gifts so you know exactly who you’ve bought for – to avoid last-minute panic buying because you’ve forgotten someone.

It’s also a time to be savvy and get ahead for next Christmas.

“In the few days before Christmas, stores often start discounting gifts, decorations and food to clear the shelves,” says Helen.

“Buy wrapping, cards and decorations for next year and buy gifts that you can put aside for birthdays.”

Written by Sarah Marinos