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Tisn’t the season yet, but if you start getting ready for Christmas now, you’ll be far better off when it gets here. If you’re a last-minute shopper, you may run into trouble this year. In a world of shortages and inflation, those gifts and that Christmas dinner will probably cost a whole lot more by the time December rolls around, if you can find what you want at all.
Set your budget.
Before you even consider shopping, figure out what you can afford to spend. If that’s just $10 a week, then that is what you should plan on. Don’t go into debt or go hungry for one day out of the year. Nobody, Jesus included, wants that to happen.
You might want to consider picking up some extra work to pay for extra stuff. This article can help.
Each week, put aside the amount you have allotted for gifts. Whether you purchase them now or save up to get them, it’s so much easier to break this expense up over several months than try to cram it all in at the end.
Make your list and check it twice.
Decide who you’re going to buy for and be merciless. There’s no reason you need to buy a gift for every single person at the office or for everyone in your neighborhood. Focus your money and your energy on those closest to you.
Then, decide what you’d like to get the people who survived the culling of your Christmas list. Be realistic based on the budget you have set. You’re not going to get one kid a brand new iPhone and the other kid socks. Plan your gift-buying carefully.
What can you make?
I always supplement the storebought gifts with homemade gifts and my daughters have carried on the tradition. We always spend time on Christmas morning, filled with wonder over the skills and talents of our loved ones. Often, it’s the homemade gifts that are the favorites.
Just a few ideas that we’ll expand on here in the future:
- Artwork to display (embroidery, painting, sketching, carving)
- Bath and body products
- Homemade mixes in pretty jars
- Baked goods
- Jams and preserves
- Woodwork projects
- Personalized items
Many people love the thought and affection that is evident in a homemade gift. I would posit that homemade gifts are in many cases superior because they capture the true meaning of your feelings more than a storebought gift ever could.
Watch for sales
Whether you shop weekly or just put aside money as you go, keep your eyes open for sales on the items you want to purchase. If you shop online, there are apps like Honey that will notify you when an item goes on sale somewhere. If you put things in your Amazon cart and then move them to the “save for later” virtual bin, every time you go into your cart, Amazon will let you know if the price has gone up or down on those things.
When you go to the store in person, check the clearance aisle to see if your desired item is there. Also, take a look at the flier when you go into the store to see what’s been marked down. When you choose something way in advance you often get lucky. I’ve saved a fortune over the years by choosing early and then biding my time. Of course, I’ve also missed out on a few things I really wanted to buy my kids, so act accordingly.
Look for secondhand options
Depending on what you’re buying for your loved ones, secondhand options may be worth a look. I’ve purchased crackpots, toasters, and other small kitchen appliances at yard sales then polished them up and included a handwritten guide to how I use the item when presenting it. I’ve also gotten televisions and game consoles this way.
Then there’s the deliberate vintage stuff. Old typewriters or cameras make a lovely decor statement and conversation piece. My daughters love old cookbooks and home decor items. There’s nothing more glorious than a vintage scarf or handbag in fabulous condition. As a family of bookworms, we’d all prefer to get an entire set of previously-enjoyed books by a favorite author than one or two brand new ones for the same price. I’ve even stumbled across some signed books in the past at a yard sale, much to my girl’s delight.
You can find all sorts of pre-loved treasures if your family is open to it.
Don’t forget the gift of time.
Budgets are looking pretty tight for a lot of us these days. So don’t feel obligated to spend every dime on gifts that will quickly be forgotten. Spend time with people instead.
A hearty meal and some holiday movies (okay, you got me – our Christmas tradition is the Die Hard series) can mean more than anything money could ever buy. Getting together to bake cookies or wrap presents is a fun tradition too and you can pool your resources for that. We have an annual gingerbread house pajama party every year to break up the endless array of events where you have to get dressed up and wear uncomfortable shoes. We pre-make small houses out of graham cracker sheets and then put out dishes of candy and icing for decking them out. We play lots of music, wear goofy pajamas and reindeer antlers, and have a wonderful time.
Spending time with the people you care about is really the most important thing.
When do you start getting ready for the holidays?
Are you an early holiday prepper or a last-minute shopper? Do you have any money-saving strategies to help people manage Christmas this year? Let’s discuss it in the comments section.