A complete Christmas to do list to keep you organised (and on budget) for 2023

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I think, across all areas of life, that being organised and planning head is the best way to stay on top of your finances and keep on budget. So, starting your Christmas prep early is a great way to avoid impulse shopping or rash decisions – and getting ahead of the game will reduce stress too, so that you can actually enjoy the festive season.

So, let’s have some frugal, festive fun, and get ready for Christmas 2023 – here’s the complete Christmas to do list:


1. Look ahead and book time off from work if it’s not guaranteed. This year Christmas falls on a Monday which is brilliant – with the weekend beforehand perfect for last minute prep.


2. Go on a woodland walk and start collecting pine cones. Pine cones are perfect for free Christmas crafting and can be used to make wreaths, table decorations, tree ornaments and even for kids’ craft too – they make brilliant mini Christmas trees when sprayed green.

frugal mum with children in woods, wrapped up, winter


3. If you want to book any special events over the Christmas period – like craft classes, pantomimes, light shows, New Year’s Eve parties or Christmas trips away – then it’s best to get organised now, to make sure tickets are available, before the festive rush begins. If you’ll be staying with family, make your travel plans now too.


4. If you need to cut back this year, or simply want to, now’s the time to share your feelings with your loved ones. This means that everyone will be on the same page, and there won’t be any embarrassment – it’ll help you feel more in control too. (And I always think spending time together or doing something fun is better than having lots of ‘stuff’ anyway!)

My mother-in-law suggested a £5 charity shop challenge this year for the adults, so we can enjoy a day out together next year instead of having lots of gifts – Lola and I are loving the challenge, and since none of us really need anything it’s a great way to make gifting more thoughtful and less extravagant.



1. Read my article for money-saving tips: Christmas without money – 30 tips for a DIY family Christmas on a small budget to get ahead of the game, and make this Christmas affordable, manageable and as stress free as possible. You really don’t need to spend a fortune to make brilliant memories with the kids.


2. Start to book in / plan your calendar of Christmas get-togethers, festive activities and when you’ll see various friends or family members. This way you’ll be able to work out what you’ll need money for, and have a few months to put some by, or make cutbacks in other areas.


3. If you want a fresh hair cut, or clean windows etc, just before the big day – make sure you schedule in appointments early too, before they get fully-booked.


4. Set your budget for Christmas 2023 – making sure that you’ve thought about food, gifts, decorations, entertaining and activities. Use my free, printable Christmas Budget Planner to get started. You might want to try ‘cash stuffing’ too – using cash is a great way to make sure that you can’t go over budget.

free, printable, download, christmas budget planner, family, frugal mum, tracker, fill in


5. Ask those you’re buying for what they’d like for Christmas (or start to ask sneaky questions to find out!) and begin to write down gift ideas, making sure that you come back to your budget.


6. Start looking for early gifts – perhaps in the sales, or with voucher codes online – often there are toy sales around October time, and beginning now will help you to spread the cost. If you’re buying any second-hand gifts, you’ll have enough time to browse the charity shops or keep an eye on Facebook Marketplace, Vinted or Ebay for exactly what you’re after in great condition. I’ve already got my kids lego sets this year on Vinted – boxed and like new – each a quarter of their original price.



1. If you’re hosting, start planning your Christmas dinner – making sure that everyone knows if they’ll need to make or bring anything. If you like online shopping, book your grocery delivery slot as early as it becomes available to avoid limited availability nearer the time. Keep any shopping reward points to use in December, and start to put reduced items in the freezer, and make the most of offers on non-perishables.


2. Prep the kids a December Box full of activities to keep them busy! My December Box article has lots of ideas and free printables to get you started – and they’ll have bits and bobs to keep them entertained for the whole of December.


3. If you’re buying or making an advent calendar for the kids, get prepping now to make sure that everything is ready for December 1st. Start to think about gift wrap, sellotape, gift boxes etc too – while there’s still plenty in the shops to choose from.


4. Though I try to hold off on putting the tree up until the 1st of December, mid-November is a great time to start crafting and putting up some sneaky decorations. Take a look at my cheap and simple Christmas craft ideas, for lots of fun with the little ones.

frugal mum children, christmas craft


5. Check out my simple Christmas cake recipe, and get your bake on – fruit cakes are better made a few weeks before so you can ‘feed’ them brandy. It’s also one less thing to do nearer the time, and mini-versions make the perfect gifts for DIY hampers too!


6. The end of November is a great time get children to write their Christmas letters to Father Christmas. This gives you, family and friends and the North Pole plenty of time to get a few treats organised for Christmas morning. I’ve got lots of cute templates that you can print off for free.letters to santa templates, printable, frugal mum


Early December:

1. Hurray December is here! Print off my Activity Advent Calendar and start having lots of festive family fun. Wander the streets to see the Christmas lights, colour in Christmas bunting, do loads of fun crafts and snuggle up watching Christmas movies at every opportunity – bliss!

frugal mum, free printable christmas activity advent calendar, family fun for the kids


2. It’s finally time to put the Christmas tree up (if you haven’t given in already – I have to admit we’ve had ours up in November a few times when Lola has begged a lot! 😂). Make the house wonderfully Christmassy, and if you fancy a freshen up of old decorations, or a new colour scheme, spray paint works wonders! Read my post on decorating for Christmas on a budget for more ideas.


3. Start the rest of your Christmas baking. If you’ve got room in the freezer then you could start earlier in the month, and make a good stash of festive treats like mince pies or gingerbread cookies, if not leave it until a few days before so they’ll keep fresh until the big day.


4. Finish buying gifts, and spend some time getting everything wrapped before things get too busy. I try to get it all finished at least a week before Christmas, so I can enjoy the build up with the kids without too much stress. And, if you’ve forgotten anything (or anyone!) it’ll give you a bit of breathing time to get organised.


5. Have a look in your local area to see what activities are on offer – carol services, Christmas fairs and markets and other festive activities are a great way to get everyone in a Chrismassy mood and support local businesses too.


6. Stock up on the practical things, like: batteries for children’s toys, tin foil / trays for Christmas dinner, extra loo rolls etc. These are the boring bits but they’ll make the festive period run a lot more smoothly!



Mid-Late December:

1. If you’re posting Christmas cards, or have Christmas presents to send, make sure you get them in the post in time. This year, Royal Mail’s cut off date is Tuesday 19th December for 1st class, and Monday 18th December for second class.


2. Decorate the outside of the house with sparkly lights, or get the kids to craft some snowflakes and window decorations to hang up to make everything look cheerful.


3. Get as much of the Christmas food shopping as you can a week beforehand, just in case you can’t get everything need from the same shop. Make a list of the fresh bits that you’ll need to buy just before the big day, and take advantage of the UK supermarket veg wars for the cheapest veg you’ll see all year! I’ve compiled a really handy guide to keep your festive food shop spending down, so give it a read and slash your food bill this holiday season.


4. Make food for Santa’s reindeer ready for Christmas eve, and print off / organise any games and quizzes you’ll want over the festive period, and for New Year’s celebrations too. My printable adults vs kids Christmas quiz is always a big hit – and DIY escape rooms are brilliant fun too!

frugal mum DIY escape room, christmas, children


5. Try to make the Christmas holidays as stress-free as possible by reminding people of what they need to cook / buy / bring, so that everyone knows what they’re responsible for. Clean the house a few days before so that you can forget about it and just do the bare minimum over the Christmas period. Prep food on Christmas Eve (or earlier and freeze) to save time on Christmas morning, or cheat (like I often do!) and use frozen veg – it’s cheaper and pre-chopped!


6. Get the kids to help you lay the table on Christmas Eve before they go to bed – my two love making place names and laying out the crackers and festive napkins. It’s super exciting, and it’ll be one less thing to do in the morning before guests arrive. And, don’t forget to put out a snack for Santa too.

Now relax and have a wonderful Christmas!

frugal mum family Christmas photo in bauble


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