Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. A beautiful time of the year filled with traditions, celebrations and new memories. It’s also a time of the year that causes stress. But Christmas shopping and planning doesn’t have to cause stress, here are some tips on how to make a Christmas budget you can start now.
You might be thinking Christmas is still months away. But life moves quickly and before you know it, Christmas will be here. The stress of Christmas can be avoided with a few simple plan ahead tips. By preparing for Christmas early (or even year-round), you will find more joy in the Christmas season (and no last minute shopping or overspending).
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10 Step Plan to Make a Christmas Budget
Start with a complete list of everyone that you will need to purchase gifts for
The beginning of the list will be easy. You will have your kids, your spouse, your parents, your brothers and sisters, family members, and your best friend.
Now, that you have all your family and friends on the gift list, start adding other people outside your family and close friends. Think about all the teachers, child caregivers, ministers, hairdressers, and other special people you want to remember at Christmas.
The goal with this list is to have a complete list of all the people you would like to give a gift or show appreciation at Christmas so you can start setting a Christmas budget.
Brainstorm gift ideas for each person.
What do they like? What are their hobbies? What could you give them that would be unique from you?
Try to come up with a few ideas for each person on your list. The better you know the person the more unique your gift can be.
You might also like: Making Christmas Memorable with Christmas Traditions
Set a budget for how much you can spend on each person or family
Before you make any purchases, you will want to set a budget for each person or family. Once you have set your budget, you will be able to narrow your gift options. For example, if you set a budget of $20 for each of your nieces and nephews, but some of your gift ideas cost $40-$50, you will need to eliminate those ideas and stay with ideas that meet your budget.
As you shop, stay within your budget. You may find it helpful to track your expenses on your gift list. If you need a Christmas gift list and budget planner, download this one.
Start saving for Christmas each week or each month (the earlier you start the better)
Once you have your Christmas budget set, you will know how much money you will need for Christmas. Start setting aside money now for Christmas.
Each time you are paid (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, etc…), add money to your Christmas savings account. The “Christmas” savings account is just for Christmas. Of course, make withdrawals as needed during the year as you find great Christmas gifts.
Start shopping sales (don’t forget online sales) now.
One of the biggest struggles with Christmas shopping is not knowing what to buy. But you have a gift list now, so you know what you are looking for. You will have time to find the best prices for gifts on your list. Maybe you will find something unexpected that is perfect for someone on your list.
Start searching for gifts as early as possible so you are not short on time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is busy with parties and activities. Don’t wait until these last few weeks to do all your shopping (this will make you stressed).
If you have small children, many times it’s easier to shop online and have everything just shipped to your front door (check out my favorite gifts ideas on Amazon here and Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial.)
You can also shop during your lunchtime or in the evenings when your kids have gone to bed. It’s also easier to comparison price online. You can check several stores right on your computer without having to go store to store.
Remember, you are shopping early. You only want to buy if the item has the best price.
Maximize your savings with coupons and discounts.
Most retailers will allow you to use coupons even on sale items. You can check websites like RetailMeNot, Dealspotr and Groupon Coupons for additional savings when shopping. Most of these coupons can be pulled up on your phone and scanned right in the store.
If you shop online, use Free Shipping options and cash back website sites like Ebates (affiliate link).
Handmade and DIY Gifts
If you are skilled in making crafts and sewing for DIY gifts, make a list of unique gifts you can make. Start working on these unique gifts now so you are not rushed the last 2 weeks before Christmas. If you wait until the last minute, you will be stressed trying to get everything done.
If you like to bake, make food gift baskets.
Everyone loves food gifts and food baskets. You could include cookies, small cakes, mini-pies or even casseroles. You could choose one day and do all your baking at one time.
Food baskets and food gifts make the perfect gift for friends and families.
If you are going to bake cookies and cakes, you will need to bake when you are ready to give this gift. But you can still prepare ahead by making your cookie doughs early and freezing them until you are ready to bake them.
Recommended for You: Christmas Gift Ideas for Everyone On Your List
Give your time
If you have a limited budget to purchase gifts, consider giving your time.
Think of the mom who stays at home with her children all week or works all week and could use a break for a few hours on the weekend. You could give a “childcare gift certificate”. Moms will appreciate a few hours to themselves to relax, read a book, or get a manicure/pedicure.
After Christmas, start a new list in January for next Christmas and be alert for the “perfect” gifts all year long
It’s never too early to start preparing for next Christmas. As you purchase these gifts, have a special cabinet or closet and save them all together so you don’t forget what you have purchased during the year (trust me, it’s easy to forget what you purchased in March for Christmas by December). It’s also a good idea keep an inventory list of what you purchased.
How do you prepare and save on Christmas?