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 few weeks to ensure your Christmas is restful, enjoyable and frugal!
1. Determine what type of Christmas you want 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.
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.
4. 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. Sometimes they have unexpected items on sale (like electric shavers) at huge discounts.
5. Think creatively about gifts. Christmas is a time to give gifts that they wouldn't buy for themselves. Buy coffee from Argentina, foot scrub from Morocco and green tea from Japan. No one needs another sweater but there are plenty of quirky gifts websites like Etsy
6. 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.
7. Remember to “shop” for those people and organizations that your family donates to during the Christmas season. Start looking for items for local charities and hope houses now. My church collects a huge Toys for Tots box and distributes them Sunday before Christmas. Think about those in need and include them in you Christmas budget. You can also plan on giving some of your time during the busiest time of year when people feel lonely and lost. There are plenty of organizations that could use your help especially during holiday time.