With Melinda

Single mum lifestyle blogger

Romance author


Welcome to October. This is your second post on how to plan for Christmas (in October). It is now autumn; leaves are falling from the trees in a riot of colour and the temperature is dropping. From the 1st of October, there are only 85 days until Christmas. We all know that shops are inundated with Christmas paraphernalia and the sense of panic has begun. Together, we can make 2023 your year to be calm, organised and the best family Christmas ever.

How to plan Christmas in October

If you are reading this, you may have already read September’s post – How to prepare early for Christmas. If so, you have hopefully completed the following amongst other jobs.

  • Purchased your Family Christmas planner.
  • Checked family organiser for December commitments.
  • Created a WhatsApp group – deciding on rota for hosting, numbers coming, dates, allergies, etc
  • Created a budget for food, alcohol, decorations, cards, gifts, and stocking presents.
  • Made Christmas cards and invitations at home with the children.
  • Deep cleaned your home.

However, if you are new to this post trilogy, take a deep breath and relax. You still have time to have a lovely and chilled Christmas. Have a read of ‘How to prepare early for Christmas’ and allocate some of these jobs to your family. Then continue reading here where I am about to give you an opportunity for the most well-planned family Christmas ever.

Family Christmas Planner

All you need for your Christmas preparation starts and finishes here. Whether you are a small family gathering or a multi-generational, cross-country affair, this is the only planner you will ever need. With a timeline that takes you from September to Christmas, tasks are split over the months, allows you to allocate tasks to your family members, and will ensure the details are there and ready for next year.

Plan Christmas in October
  • Do you need a record of attendance, along with name, address, allergies, and more? Check
  • Would it be helpful to have postal dates, for cards and packages worldwide? Check
  • Who doesn’t need a template for your child to write their letter to Father Christmas? Check
  • Do you want to know how and when to make the Christmas cake? Check
  • Do you know the best type of Christmas tree to buy and how to decorate it? Check
  • Do you have a record of what you spent last year, which will help in your budget going forward? Check

This is just a fraction of what is inside your Family Christmas Planner. Nothing is left uncovered or unorganised. Would you like to be sitting in the lounge on Christmas day with your family and taking part in the festivities? You can, with the planner. In years to come, there will be only timely preparation rather than stress and debt.

What to do in October for Christmas

Book your supermarket slot

In the UK, the majority of the supermarket Christmas slots come out middle of October. This is an important date when thinking how to plan for Christmas in October. Put a reminder in your calendar to remind yourself to book your slot.

  • Sainsbury’s – 16th October 2023 – for the Anytime pass customers.
  • Tesco – 7th November 2023 – delivery saver customers
  • Ocado –Ocado will not put dates online but will email smart pass customers
  • Morrisons – 18th October for delivery pass customers
  • Asda – 3rd October – delivery pass
  • Waitrose – not yet released their dates

These dates will be updated as soon as we find out more information. Please come back and check so you don’t miss your slot. For the supermarkets that have paid for passes, the dates for general release slots will be a few days later.

Christmas food – how to plan for Christmas in October

The thought of Christmas food makes me both hungry and excited. However, we all know that It is easy to overspend so planning and also buying in advance will help prevent this. It’s important to remember that October is the month some Christmas food comes into the supermarkets and are often at a lower price than they will be in December. Of course, what you buy in advance will depend on how much storage and freezer space you have. Below are a few suggestions of what can be bought early. This is a fantastic part of how to plan for Christmas in October.

Freezer food

  • Christmas meat – freeze on the day you buy it, and it will be yummy and that bit cheaper as part of your Christmas dinner.
  • Stuffing – even if you make your own, it can be made now and frozen.
  • Pigs in blanket – again, if homemade, they can be frozen in advance.

Non freezer food

  • Christmas alcohol – you could even do a booze run to France for a day/weekend away. After Brexit, the money you will save is still worth it. One adult’s allowance is 24 bottles of still wine and 12 bottles of sparkling wine. For the still wine allowance alone, you would save over £300. Definitely worth it.
  • Non-alcoholic Christmas drinks – who doesn’t like a bottle of Shloer or a Belvoir presse? These can be stored with the alcoholic wine in a cupboard or garage.  
  • Christmas chocolates – yes, the Quality Street tubs are back in the supermarkets and once again, are cheaper to buy now rather than wait until later.
  • Sauces – what is Christmas without a table sauce? With a long shelf-life, these are definitely a must to purchase now.
  • Christmas biscuits – rather than buying the Christmas selections which seem to come with their own special price, why not buy the supermarket’s own brand that is on offer throughout the year?
  • Crisps and nuts – go for the large sharing packs of supermarket own instead of branded choices. You will be surprised to see how much you will save.  

Remember to include these items on your planner’s shopping list but mark it as already bought. It is far too easy to forget you have bought something and buy it a second time. If you are following this guide, however, you will be learning how to plan for Christmas in October and will be sticking to your organised budget.

Christmas crafts for teens

October is a great time to get the family involved in creative festive cheer. You are already on schedule with having completed the September Christmas tasks and can enjoy this family time. There’s nothing like anticipation to build up an event. Put time aside in your calender for you and the children to do just that.

Below are some exciting arts and crafts for you and your teenagers to do together and bond over. The teenage years can be difficult ones and any opportunity to have fun with your teen should be grabbed with both hands. After all, they won’t let us take pictures, so our fond memories need to stay in our heads!

How to make a Christmas wreath last longer

The Christmas wreath stems from the German Lutherans in the 16th century. In the 19th century, it then became popular to hang a wreath on the door which was known as a ‘welcome ring’. This background has a religious connotation as Christians started placing a candle on it during the Advent period to symbolise the light that Jesus brought into the world. It is now used to both symbolize eternal life and also to greet visitors. They can be made fresh each year or be prepared artificially to be put away ready for the next year. Making and using products that can last year after year is a sensible and sustainable part of learning how to plan for Christmas in October.

How to make a wreath

What you will need – Thin wire, white spray paint, gloves, faux foliage – examples would be faux ivy and spruce. Moss, pinecones, fake floral stems, fake berries and flowers. Lastly, a hot glue gun.

  • Wreath base – I would suggest buying a wire one of these. It will come perfectly shaped and ready for you to make beautiful. There is a whole selection for you to choose from in style and size.
  • Start decorating with the foliage – if you were making a real wreath, this would include spruce, fir, and holly. For the faux wreath, this will be a faux version of the above.  We use these first to pad out the base and give it an overall lush, green effect.  Take the foliage and twist it around your metal circle. The stems should be wrapped in the wire with the leaves poking out the top. Ensure that the base is covered.
  • If you do have any gaps after you have used all your foliage, pad these out with moss. This creates a lush look and helps make the wreath look fuller. Once again, work it in and out of the base, making sure you cover any gaps.
  • Floral stems – the great thing about an artificial wreath is that you can buy flowers that would otherwise be seasonal. This can create a pretty and colourful wreath to adorn your door. I would suggest white roses and chrysanthemums. These both have hardy stems and will work well being woven into the base. Make sure you space them evenly to ensure the colour is well spread.
  • Finish of your wreath by placing the pinecones and berries. If you want to be extra creative, you could spray paint the cones. With white flowers, red berries, and festive coloured pine cones, your wreath will surely be the best on the street. At this stage, you can either use the glue gun to glue the pine cones or wire. With the wire, twist a small amount around the base of the cone and leave about 3cm at the bottom. Use the wire at the base to attach it to the wire base of the wreath. You will have to poke around to find the base, but it will be worth it as the cones will not fall off and will look amazing.

Fix your beautiful wreath to your front door. Every time you come home, you and your children will be reminded of the fun you had together making it. It will also help to cement the countdown to Christmas. Once Christmas is over, it can be wiped clean, dried, stored carefully, and taken out the next year. Perfect!

Easy home-made advent calendar

We all love an advent calendar, whatever our age. It’s basically a mini-present each day. We can spend a couple of pounds on a chocolate one up to hundreds on a beauty or well-being one for example. But how many of us parents have thought about making one? I have to say, the thought crossed my mind once when my son was small. Then that thought flew straight out of my mind when I decided it was too much work. But, if you’ve ever gone down that same route, I’m here to change your mind and give you some easy options.

Ideas for Teenage Advent Calendar

Firstly, if you are time short or really arts and crafts shy, there are so many options. In almost every town, we have shops like Hobby Craft. These do the hard work for us, create the structure of the advent calendar, and allow us to be creative in decorating and filling it. As we have less and less free time, this is a viable option and one that I have used and loved before. Even Amazon has got in on this and has given us a wide choice to select from.

If you are ready to go that one step further and have a go at creating your own calendar base as well as filling it, then the below is for you. As we are doing it in October, there is no hurry. Whatever goes wrong can be rectified and your teenager will be left with another great memory. These ideas are super easy and involve no stress.

Recycle for your advent calendar

  • Recycle kitchen objects. Whether it’s coffee tins, jam jars, sweet jars, or something else. Whatever you have a lot of, don’t throw them away. But avoid using glass!
  • Cut white paper the size of the tin. You can use glitter, paint, or leave it plain at this stage.
  • Each piece of paper now needs a number painted on it, from 1 to 25 of course.
  • Stick the paper onto the tin or jar.
  • The next part is up to you. One option would be to stack them, in the shape of a Christmas tree. You can either fill them first with a present or stack them to look decorative in your house. The best idea would be to put them against a wall so they can’t be knocked over.

Simple advent calendar bag design

My teenager and I do not have the most patience. So I have the easiest design for an advent calendar which you will both enjoy, is simple and looks pretty.

You will need the following – fabric, bowl and scissors. Fabric scissors would be best. Borrow these if you don’t have any. Also string, ornament hooks and printed numbers.

For the fabric, you can buy some or you could reuse something you would have thrown away. A tea towel, an item of thin clothing, etc. Of course, you could always visit your local charity shop and buy an item of clothing from there.

Christmas arts and crafts in October

Spread the fabric on a table and place a upside down bowl on the edge of the fabric. Using fabric scissors, cut around it. Repeat this for as many bags as you want.

Cut a piece of string.

Take the stocking present, place it in the centre of the fabric centre and pull the sides up together. Holding tightly, wrap the string around it and tie a bow.

Take the ornament hook and hook the base into the string. This should hold firmly if you have tied the string tightly.

You can hang these calendar bags on the Christmas tree when that gets decorated or, using string, the bags could be hung in a row in the lounge. This would give a talking point when you have guests and a sense of anticipation. Learning how to plan for Christmas in October gives you a chance to save household items that you may reuse for Christmas. Which in turn means you have money left in the budget.

Frugal Christmas budget

In September, you would have already planned your budget. These details will be safely inserted in the Family Christmas Planner, ready for you to refer to when it comes to making purchases. These will include presents and stocking presents. Now is the time to start buying for these. For tips on a financially frugal Christmas, think outside the box for presents. If you really can’t think of a present idea for someone, how about visiting a charity website and making a contribution on behalf of your family member/friend?

Stocking fillers

Look at your total Christmas gift budget then set yourself a price per stocking. As children become older, gifts become more expensive, so I recommend making stocking fillers, adding a chocolate or two from a selection box, an orange, and maybe a pair of socks. Your total budget would be about £5.

Avoid brands

Who hasn’t noticed how expensive brands are? Yet, we turn to them again and again for present ideas. However, lets turn away from them this Christmas and save money. Etsy is a great place to start. Full of start-ups, these companies often have low prices but benefit from customers and exposure.

Gift vouchers

Who doesn’t love a voucher? Money to spend on what they want. But it can also a thoughtful and cheap way of giving a gift when we are trying to save. Voucher templates are cheap and you can personalise them with your details. What voucher idea would you like to give? Maybe a massage to your partner? No chores for a week to your children? An afternoon tea at yours for the grandparents? Lovely ideas that will be appreciated by all which your bank account will love.

Avoid brands

Who hasn’t noticed how expensive brands are? Yet, we turn to them again and again for present ideas. However, lets turn away from them this Christmas and save money. Etsy is a great place to start. Full of start-ups, these companies often have low prices but benefit from customers and exposure.

If you like to buy perfume or aftershave as a present, you don’t need to grit your teeth anymore at the steep prices. Here is a guide on how to shop for branded/high-street perfume or even go for the non-branded, smell-alike scents. After all, once its on your wrist or neck, who’s to tell who made it?

Big purchases

If you have an expensive present you would like to buy someone, for example an Xbox then DON’T buy it now. Instead, start looking online at prices and deals. Put these details in your Family Christmas Planner anon wait until Black Friday which is 24th November this year. This is bound to save you a whole lot of money.

Countdown to Christmas

Wow, look at all that has been achieved this month by leaning how to plan for Christmas in October. By this point, it should be nearly the end of October and you are most likely streets ahead of everyone else you know. You are organised, calm, looking forward to Christmas, on track with your budget, and know what little is left to do. This might be the best Christmas ever. These four posts will organise you and help you on your way but the Family Christmas Planner has it all in one place, ready for you next year, and the next and the next.

Christmas is now everywhere in the shops. However, as there is still Thanksgiving on the 23rd of November and Halloween on the 31st of October, we will hold off on the Christmas decorations. That fun part is yet to come. Now you have finished ‘how to plan for Christmas in October’, Please keep your eyes peeled for the November post which fills me with excitement. It is a time of baking, writing our cards, shopping, decluttering and more. A great time for the whole family to get involved to create more of those memories I keep mentioning. Until then, don’t forget your Family Christmas Planner and have fun!

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Single with child