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Think back to the amount of preparation this Christmas has taken. It may have taken you months to tick everything off your ‘to-do’ list and you probably still had to run around in the days leading up to Christmas to make sure everything was ready in time.

How much easier would it have been if you’d started preparing for Christmas throughout the year? If this is something you’ve always thought about doing but have never put into practise then here’s how you could make a start on Christmas 2016.

Spreading out the cost

The sooner you start saving for Christmas the longer you’ll have to spread out the cost. So instead of waiting until November or December to start thinking about saving up, you could put a little bit away regularly and watch this figure grow over time. For example, if you were to put away £10 a week for the whole year, you’d have £520 saved up by the end of it.

Before you decide on how much to save for next Christmas, you’re going to have to work out what your savings goal is. To do this, estimate how much you tend to spend on family and friends and factor in the cost of food as well as general items like cards, wrapping paper and decorations. Once you’ve done this, you can then work out how much you’ll need to save regularly in order to meet this.

To save up you could simply put the money in a jam jar each week (although we wouldn’t recommend keeping large amounts of cash in your home) or you could set up a separate pot for your savings goal, if your bank account has this facility available.

Another option is to put the money that you’ve saved into an ISA. By doing this you’ll receive interest on what you put in and the money you earn will be tax-free. Just be aware that if you opt for a fixed-term ISA that you’ll only gain access to the money once this term is over and you may incur a penalty if you want to take it out early. You can find out more about cash ISAs here.

Start buying

You don’t have to leave gift buying until the end of the year either. Picking up bits and pieces throughout the year could help you to take advantage of the many sales that take place outside of the festive season.

One mother purchased around 300 Christmas presents for her two children and husband, and credited this as being how she could afford to spend £1,500 on her family. Although 300 gifts may seem a little excessive, having family and friends in mind when hitting the sales in the year will not only help you to spread out the cost of Christmas but take some of the stress out of it as well.

For tips on starting your Christmas shopping in the January sales, read our guide.

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