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.
This includes 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 (or however many months there are between now and Christmas when you are reading this) 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.
Grab your free copy of our Christmas Gift Tracker — a simple spreadsheet to keep track of gifts you buy, how much you’ve spent and what you have left in your budget.
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.
Think movie/date nights, pamper yourself, baking, chocolate lovers, coffee and more! Start by purchasing inexpensive baskets at Michaels or Joann with store coupons or find gently used ones at garage sales throughout the summer. Some stores run some pretty decent gift card deals (extra Rewards points, cash rebate offers, etc) during the holidays and these would be great to add to a gift basket!
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 for gifts and cards is harder to do once the weather has turned sour and people are busy.
For more photo gift inspiration, check out this post with ideas for different types of photo books and calendar.
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 send 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.
Looking for more ideas to keep your Christmas simple and less chaotic?
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