Christmas is coming! The more we plan for the expenses that occur during December, I believe the more we can truly enjoy the season. Here are ten things you can do in the next month or so to ensure your Christmas is restful, enjoyable and on budget!
1. Determine what type of Christmas you want you and your family to experience this year. This will help you make every other decision as you prepare for the season — both how you budget your money and how you spend your time.
2. Make your Christmas gift-giving list now, including the random people you typically end up giving gifts to (teachers, bosses, caregivers, mail carriers, etc). This will help make sure every gift you purchase in advance is actually going to a specific person and not going to live in your gift closet/bin forever.
Looking for inspiration? Check out our huge list of Gift Guides HERE.
3. Set a Christmas budget and start saving. Figure out how much you want to spend on Christmas gifts (include shipping costs), decorations, activities and Christmas cards & stamps, divide it by three and start setting that amount aside each month. My family does this all year — we set aside $100 per month for gifts which covers birthdays, weddings, and Christmas — it makes the financial impact of Christmas much easier to handle when we set aside small chunks every month instead of withstanding a huge blow all at once.
4. Start looking around your home to sell items you no longer use or need. Consider selling kids’ clothing at a local consignment sale, selling furniture on Craiglist, or old cellphones on Ebay.
5. Look for part-time seasonal work. Most retail stores are looking for seasonal employees right now. Consider taking on a few hours to help add some extra cash to your Christmas budget.
6. Shop clearance sales at Target, Walmart, Walgreens and Rite Aid year-round for stocking stuffers and small gifts for your friends’ kids or nieces and nephews.
7. Stock up on online freebie offers and other clearance items to make themed baskets (thoughtful and cheap!). Think movie/date nights, pamper yourself, baking, chocolate lovers, coffee and more! Start by purchasing inexpensive baskets at Michael’s or Joann’s with store coupons or find gently used ones at garage sales throughout the summer.
8. Think creatively about gifts and take advantage of store sales cycles. July and August bring back-to-school deals. Stock-up on markers, crayons, glue, etc. and make someone on your list a craft pack. Summer also brings crazy deals on condiments and BBQ items. Make a BBQ lovers basket for a master griller on your list. November brings great deals on baking items, so wrap those deals up for someone who loves to bake!
9. Plan for photo gifts, canvas prints and calendars now. Once the Christmas season rolls around, it takes so much time to throw one of those together it’s almost too stressful. Plus, getting the perfect pictures gifts and cards is harder to do once the weather has turned sour and people are busy.
10. Remember to “shop” for those people and organizations that your family donates to during the Christmas season. Start looking for items for your Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes now. My church collects care packages to overseas military personnel connected to our congregation. I can get great deals on athletic socks during back-to-school sales and hard candy after Halloween. Shop seasonal clearance for toy drive donations.
How does your family plan for Christmas in advance?
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