This may be a funny time to post this blog. Maybe even a bit ironic. BUT, besides Santa gifts, I believe we are all finished shopping thanks to planning for Christmas.
I have always been a saver, a penny-pincher, a budgeter. And, I find that in my parenting world this trait comes in handy. Splurging still happens on occasion because I know I can. However, to avoid major stressing or mild panic attacks, planning ahead and buying throughout the second half of the year helps me tremendously.
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Christmas shopping begins around July or August for me.
Using TWO or THREE different “hiding” spots makes it easier for me to locate all the items I build up. This preparation allows me to budget or spend in little spurts for friends/family gifts, the two families, and our family. Then, when it comes time to get Christmas cards (not a necessity, but I LOVE them because they tend to serve as our family pictures each year, as well), I know they’ll be an expense we can cover.
Doing the purchasing in this manner also lets me shop from friends and support local businesses a bit simpler. I can pick and choose which “parties” to attend for books, clothes, jewelry, cooking supplies, bags, etc., and not have to fear the total amount. Now, let me also point out that I used to Christmas shop at the dollar store and similar when I was a single mama (ain’t no shame, and some of those are the BEST presents ever).
What I am saying is that little extra expenses over the course of 6 months are much easier to meet than one giant amount.
This strategy also lends itself nicely to birthdays and other holidays but Christmas tends to be the big kicker for us. Stocking stuffers, gifts, cards, and food for celebrations. We usually split food costs for more of a “potluck” meal, but that still means changes to our normal food budget. Another tradition we have kept up on is baking Christmas cookies for the neighborhood which adds more strain on the finances if we were to buy everything in one or two months.
See what I’m getting at here?
Take these three tips and for planning for Christmas early and often and do with them as you will:
Create a List
I cannot stress enough how much lists have helped me. The daily to-dos used to float around in my head but once I started writing them down, I realized how much that helped me to not forget anything important. The same principle lies with Christmas and other celebrations. Writing down who I feel I need to buy for allows me to not have any last minute surprises pop up of those I otherwise would forget in the hustle and bustle. (Santa had it right when he was making a list and checking it twice.)
Spend Cap on Gifts
In order to stick to some semblance of a budget, I allot a certain number to friend gifts, friends’ family gifts, etc. That’s not saying that I stick to the exact number as gifts tend to fluctuate and even a $0.60 difference can mean the numbers are askew, but it puts a stopping point where I try not to exceed. Otherwise, I could easily WANT to buy $50 gifts for every person I know. I love shopping for others. We also donate each year for Christmas, so I take into consideration the amount that we “set aside” for doing so and let the kids help us choose what that goes towards.
Commit to Purchases
As I said, I could easily go overboard shopping for others in my life (heck, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without each and every one of them). However, once I find something and I decide that will be the gift, I buy and place it in the “done” pile. A month or so down the road, I may find an item I like better but I committed to that first present. That means I take a note of the second option I found for the following year or birthdays and move on. No need to dwell and chances are the first choices will be loved just as much.
Even if you pick the four present rule for your children (something they want, something they need, something they wear, and something they read), I find that these tips fall in line to remove any stress you may feel around the gift-giving season. No, Christmas is NOT about presents. However, being able to provide those I care about with a little token of my appreciation during a time that’s meant to celebrate joy, life, and time together warms my heart.
Whatever route you take, I hope you share in the love and cheer of the holiday season!
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