I know that this is a little early, but it’s almost November and I am trying to get my Christmas presents done early this year. So I sat down to think about the different things I should keep in mind before making plans for the holidays, and I figured I might as well make a list. I doubt I’m the only one who gets stressed out and end up spending more money than planned when things are done last minute.
Me and my family last Christmas. It is definitely my favorite time of the year! Btw, what I’m wearing is a typical, old-fashioned Norwegian festive dress called “bunad” – look it up.
Anyway, I found some of these tips at thenest.com, and added some comments and ideas of my own.
- Create a budget. I always find things that I’d love to buy for friends and family, but that simply end up being too expensive. We all have a limited amount of money that we can spend on Christmas gifts and we should be careful not to exceed it.
- Make a list of everyone you’re buying gifts to. Then sit down and come up with ideas for what to get each person – you might also want to estimate how much to spend on each gift so that you can distribute your budget somewhat evenly. This could save you both time and money when it’s actually time to buy stuff.
- Consider buying things online. Most retailers will wrap and ship your presents for you, and they often offer free shipping during the holidays (find a list at FreeShipping.org).
- Use reward points. If you’re planning on doing most of your shopping online, try using MyPoints.com. It offers reward points per transaction at many retailers. Rack up the points, then redeem them for gift cards for a ton of stores – including Barnes & Noble, Target, The Home Depot and more.
- Never pay retail. Before you start your holiday shopping, check RetailMeNot.com or MyBargainBuddy.com to find promotions and deals for a wide variety of retailers, ranging from Best Buy and Pottery Barn to Gap. Found the perfect gift but it’s a little out of your price range? Register it at ShoppingNotes.com, and they’ll email you when it goes on sale.
- Scan a deal. Too busy (or lazy) to comparison shop? Download the ShopSavvy or RedLaser app, and you can scan an item’s bar code to see what it costs at other stores and online. If you find a lower price, just ask the manager at your current locale to match it.
- Pay attention to sales. If you re in the US, black Friday is a great day for getting some Christmas gifts out of the way. Starting early is always a good idea because you don’t have to buy everything right away, and you can wait for a sale to come around.
- Buy discounted gift cards. If you plan on giving gift cards this year, check out PlasticJungle.com and ABCGiftcards.com. Both sites offer gift cards that others didn’t want – at a discounted price. You can save up to 35 percent.
- Give the gift of you. There are so many things you can make yourself that still make a great gift. Personalized gift cards, homemade food, candy, or drink (a friend of mine made a delicious raspberry liqueur), something your knitted or cross stitched, a photo album, Christmas ornaments, and so on.
- Small things can often add up. You can send a personal email with a couple of pictures instead of buying Christmas cards (or how about just calling to catch up?). And don’t spend a lot of money on wrapping paper, cheap versions are often just as pretty. Or you could use magazine pages, news papers, comic strips, and wrapping papers from gifts you have received yourself. And everyone worry about how they look during the Christmas season, but instead of buying an expensive gym membership you should simply work out at home instead – although this might require a bit more structure and planning.