Even your furry friends will thank you for a more relaxed Christmas season.
You must think I’m crazy, talking about Christmas already. After all, in our consumer driven society, it seems like the ads for Christmas go up earlier and earlier every year. And those who know me well, know that drives me crazy.
Still, now is a good time to start thinking about Christmas. About a month ago, Frugal Dad reminded us that there were less than 200 saving days until Christmas! Today, a month later, there are only 148 days left until Christmas!
By planning ahead, you can avoid the temptation to overspend and go into debt in December. My goal every year is to have all my shopping done and my packages and cards ready to go out by the end of Thanksgiving weekend. I like to spend the month leading up to Christmas relaxing with my family, just enjoying the season. I hate the last minute Christmas rush.
Here are some things you can do now to get a head start on Christmas this year.
Start Saving Now
If you haven’t started saving yet, figure out how much you want to spend on Christmas, and divide it by 4 months. Put that much aside each month from August through November, and you’ll have your Christmas budget fully funded by December 1.
I started saving early this year when I tried out SmartyPig. Now my Christmas fund is going strong in my SmartyPig account, and I’ll be in good shape when I withdraw my savings to shop in November.
Start Shopping Now
If you come across a good sale on something you know a friend or relative would love, buy it now. Hide it in a safe location, and keep a list of what you’ve bought and for whom. I can’t stress the list enough. It’s definitely not frugal to buy too many things because you’ve forgotten what you’ve already purchased.
By shopping early, you also have the benefit of having a better chance of locating those hard to find items (like a Nintendo Wii, for instance), before the Christmas crowds are competing for the same items.
Consider Homemade Gifts
Preparing for Christmas early gives you the time and flexibility to make something with a personal touch, if you wish. One year I cross-stitched a picture for my in-laws. It’s still hanging in their entryway, and it warms my heart that they liked it enough to hang it in such a prominent location. I wouldn’t have been able to finish the picture in time, had I not started cross-stitching in August that year.
In recent years, I’ve made personalized calendars for everyone. By going through family photos early, I can make sure I have enough good pictures for the photo calendars. I can also get the calendars printed before prices go up, as the frequently seem to do, right before Christmas.
Make the Gift Personal
Whether you make your gifts or buy your gifts, the purpose of giving a gift is to make sure the recipient feels loved and appreciated. When you prepare for Christmas early, it’s easy to think about the person you’re shopping for, and buy something you know they will truly love.
When you wait until December 20 to shop, you end up buying gifts in a hurry, just to get the shopping out of the way. Gift giving becomes more of a chore than an act of love. At least that’s been my experience.
By planning ahead, you can make sure your Christmas is relaxed and enjoyable, rather than harried and hurried.
Have you thought ahead to Christmas yet? What’s your best Christmas planning tip?
Photo by Randy Son Of Robert.
I recently placed a rather large order at DisneyShopping.com and got Christmas and birthday presents for my son and most of my nieces and nephews. Almost everything was $5 or less, I feel very accomplished to have gotten such good deals so many months before Christmas. :)
You’re not alone in thinking of Christmas in July. My wife has already begun planning gifts, and is actively watching prices, looking for the best deals on the stuff she’s gifting. I have to give her the credit, because I stink at it. My contribution is signing the cards… She’s the brains behind this outfit!
I don’t think you are crazy. I did a short Xmas in July series last year. These are great tips!
This is my first frugal Christmas and I am pumped! I have my game plan all written out on my blog. I’m using my own hands, re-gifting (taboo, I know), using gift cards and money earned from taking surveys all too hopefully be done Christmas shopping by December 1st.
UGghhhh…It’s smart, but I hate the idea of Christmas shopping. It’s such a chore! But I guess it will be made easier if we start earlier.
These are some great tips! I’m amazed you all are so organized, and some are ready for Christmas so early. Hey, it’s wisdom for sure, considering the stores start everything so early. I’m doing good to get the birthday gifts for family on time.
Really, my husband and I have already been talking about Christmas and how quick it’ll be here. I’d like to have a more thoughtful Christmas for my family and friends. Last year, we didn’t plan much ahead and ended up not having much to spend for Christmas, and it was disappointing, I think, for my kids, and us. We’d like to do things differently this year, so thanks for the ideas to prepare early.
I am putting together a blog post about this as we speak! I had been finishing it up for the past week and I have been thinking about this since reading frugal dad’s post a few weeks ago. I love the ideas you posted. DH’s family is big on pictures, so we will be taking a family picture soon and giving that as part of their christmas gifts. I have also been searching online stores for great clearance items and have been putting them in our “gift tote.” I also do the same thing for birthday gifts. We are never without a gift for a close family member. My dad’s birthday is in march and we already have his gift for next year lol.
PS – you’d be surprised at how much totally NEW stuff, still in boxes, you can get at garage sales for just a dollar or two :)
My goal, for the past 25 years at least, is to be ‘done’ with Christmas shopping by September. I don’t do well with stress :( I pick up things as they come on sale and save them. Yes, the list is a good idea. With 8 grandkids, and 3 kids and their spouses, plus my siblings, and parents, it’s a bit much on my frugal income if I were to wait. I have a shelf with boxes dedicated to my year round shopping/storing, sorted by families. I also do a lot of sewing, and that must be started early …8 pairs of little kids PJ’s and matching teddy bears takes a bit of doing :) My family knows my frugal income, and is not expecting ‘big things’ – but they do enjoy the personal thoughtful small things.
I like to be able to mail out at my leisure, usually in October. Right now, in July, my sister and her family is all done and in the box ready for mailing… I’ll wait til October tho to do that :)
I like to do my Christmas shopping when we travel. This year, we bought gifts for my in-laws when we visited my family in Washington DC in March. We bought gifts for all the children we know at the Audobon bird museum in Kentucky in May when we visited cousins. And we shopped for everyone else in Chinatown in Vancouver, Canada in June.
Since we bought things you can’t get at your local Wal-mart, our friends and family won’t know if we paid $30 or $3 for the super-cute Chinese slippers (it was 3!) so we were able to be frugal *and* interesting.
It’s only July, but we’re completely finished with Christmas shopping for everyone. We even bought a few extra (inexpensive) trinkets in case we forgot someone!
Last year, we didn’t travel as much, so I did our shopping at the after-Christmas sales at the bookstores. We got cute gifts for 75 or 90% off. One year, we hit up the Bath and Body Works on January 2nd and bought all their Christmas packages. I think we spent $60 total on all of our female relatives that year.
I love Christmas shopping but I love shopping inexpensively even more.
I’ve started shopping already and have managed to find a few good deals.
On the Lands End online outlet homepage they have a Verbena Spa set that sells for 19.99 (regularly $99 or so). I bought two, one will go to my sister and the other will be broken up into 3 parts to make 3 different gifts.
While I’ve never started shopping in July, I certainly try to start the whole self-licking ice cream cone process of frenzied Christmas shopping before December.
I find it easier to deal with the financial burden that comes along with the shopping spree. Yes, we do tend to go a bit overboard, but Christmas is that one time of the year that we splurge a bit.
If I can spread the bills out over a few months it makes it easier to swallow. We usually start the process in October and finish paying the last bill in January.
One of the best ideas we ever incorporated was to start saving $100/month in a Christmas Club account. It makes the entire season stress free.
Last year I waited until the last minute to do my shopping and it did lead to stress and gifts that just weren’t personal. This year I’ve started my list already and hopefully will have my shopping done early. Very early.
I’m trying really hard to avoid the December rush this year. I’ve just completed a Christmas in July series on my blog to that end.
I think one of the most effective tips (aside from saving for the occasion) is to make a gift list early and pick up items as they come on sale. And make sure you keep the list updated, otherwise, if you’re anything like me, you’ll forget what you’ve bought and double up on gifts!
Thanks for sharing my post with your readers! We have found that by planning, saving and shopping earlier in the year it helps take some of that last-minute stress out of the Christmas season. That helps us focus on the real reason for Christmas, and not be distracted with gifts, etc.
i’m already thinking about christmas too. i printed out my (long) gift list and put it in an envelope in my purse. i also put a $50 gift card from sears that we got through a (soon-to-be-paid-off) credit card. i’m now looking for every source for free gift cards (survey rewards, special offers) and these will all go in the envelope. i’ll also use ebates for any online orders. like you, i’d like to have my shopping done and enjoy the season this year.