Making a list and checking it twice

You’re probably thinking it’s too early to be talking about Christmas. But whether you want to believe it or not, Christmas is just around the corner – 48 days away to be exact – which means it’s time to think about whose getting what, what it’s all going to cost, and how to pay for it all.

I like to think of myself as fairly organised when it comes to Christmas. To date, I’ve pre-ordered our tree to be delivered on the first of December, I’ve got last year’s decorations out of the loft and, as a result, I’ve ordered some new lights. I’ve also marked the opening of Winter Wonderland on the calendar and run my Christmas mugs through the dishwasher ready to go (I really love the festive season, as you’ve probably guessed).

But all this holiday cheer normally ends up spilling into some emotional spending I’m not overly proud of. So this year, I started my holiday gift planning early – like pre-Halloween early – and I decided to break it down for you: budgeting, boundaries and my big ticket items.

“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?” — Bob Hope, Comedian

Budgeting for the holidays

Everyone will have different priorities, but I find that if you focus on just two or three ideas it can really help narrow down how you want to allocate your budget.

The good thing about planning early is you still have time to save. For me, our big holiday tradition is ‘date night’ at Winter Wonderland. Winter Wonderland is expensive – and it seems to get more expensive every year – which means we skip a few nights out in November to save up for it in December.

Next on my list are the kids in the family. I’m a firm believer that Christmas is for the children. My extended family is quite large and this year we have eight children and two babies on the way. I assign a budget per person to keep everything equal. If I can’t find something I think they’ll love within budget, I’ll give them the cash to shop themselves – especially pesky teenagers. Adults, sorry but you don’t get much – just the pleasure of my company and some help with the washing up after dinner.

Holiday boundaries

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that everyone has their own traditions that they want to honour and you need to be respectful of that — but to a point. If a tradition is giving you financial anxiety thinking about how you’re going to pay for it, or it’s putting you into credit card debt until next Christmas, it’s best to talk to your family (or friends) about calling it quits.

For example, my family only gives gifts to those under the age of 18 – but to make sure everyone has something fun, we’re each given a scratch card on Christmas morning. It’s a silly tradition, but one of my favourites, so I extended it to my husband’s family. We stopped getting every aunt, uncle and cousin a gift, and instead focused on the kids (see above). But every year I bring a handful of wrapped up lottery cards. Some years they’d rather get the fiver I spent on them, but other years they might actually win something – and that’s the joy.

What’s on my list this year…


Set to launch next week, Disney+ will contain Disney and Pixar content, both original and new, as well as ‘family-friendly’ content like everyone’s Christmas favourite, the Sound of Music. Disney, a holding in Evenlode Global Income fund, could potentially take on the likes of Netflix as the company intends to pull its movie library from Netflix before the launch of Disney+. Personally, I think it’s a great new streaming service and a perfect gift, which is why I’m gifting an annual subscription to both of my sister’s households so all my nieces and nephews can enjoy the likes of Finding Nemo and Up whenever they want.


Argos is my one-stop-shop for all things toys. A subsidiary of Sainsbury’s – a store of which is held in TIME:Commerical Long Income fund – it’s a great place to get those pesky teenager gifts. With gifts to buy for two year olds to sixteen year olds, I know that I can cross off quite a few presents in a single go. And, with more and more counters being set up in Sainsbury’s superstores, I can do all my food, trimmings and the ever important Christmas cracker shopping at the same time!

AirPods Pro

My husband has been going on and on about Apple’s new AirPods Pro wireless headphones, and I have a sneaky suspicion they might just find their way into his stocking this year… In case you missed the newest release from Apple (a company held in AXA Framlington Global Technology, BMO Responsible Global Equity, and Fidelity Global Special Situations), they have a ‘customisable’ fit and active noise cancellation – meaning he can tune me out whenever he wants, or doesn’t want, because they also have a ‘transparency’ mode which allows outside sound in without removing the AirPods. They’re fancy and not cheap. It’s a good job he’s been nice this year…

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