I know, I know. You probably think I’m crazy for mentioning the holidays before fall has even begun. But I promise, the earlier you can get started on your shopping, the better. Too many are unfortunately aware that waiting until the last minute can be stressful and expensive. Let’s talk about how to start saving, and perhaps even buying, for the holidays this week.
The Best-Laid Plans
If you’re a planner, the idea of a holiday gift spreadsheet probably doesn’t alarm you. If you’re more of a ‘wait-and-see’ type person, creating an Excel file for gift giving may seem extreme. http://www.practicalspreadsheets.com/christmas-budget.html But honestly? Just try it! You don’t even have to turn on the computer if you don’t want to – just make a list (and let Santa check it twice).
Begin by listing the people you always buy for – kids, spouse, close friends, etc. Don’t forget about the office gift exchange or your extended family’s grab bag. Writing out names early is especially helpful if you have a long list – this way you won’t forget anyone and have to make a mad dash to the mall in December. http://www.thefrisky.com/2014-08-14/this-year-im-starting-my-christmas-shopping-in-august/
Once you’ve established your list, plan to get a well-thought-out gift each week or two. It takes time to invest in getting the best gift and the best deal, so if you focus on one gift a week and spread that time out over several months, it won’t feel so stressful come December.
Stock Up for Stockings
Maybe you buy the same gift for all your nieces or nephews. Or, all the families in your neighborhood traditionally exchange gift baskets. Whatever the situation, if you plan on bringing tidings of joy to a big group, you’ll save yourself time and money if you can stock up on a bunch of the same item and get creative with your presentation.
Forget the traditional gift basket. You can put together some really memorable gifts using mason jars. http://totallythebomb.com/mason-jar-gifts. These are great little receptacles for gift cards and, with a little creativity; you can make them into festive decorations with one trip to the dollar store. http://www.diyncrafts.com/9739/decor/12-magnificent-mason-jar-christmas-decorations-can-make.
Since the holidays and cooler weather go hand in hand, you might also consider a cozy, no-sew fleece blanket. These are especially great for little kids since you can customize the fabric to their favorite characters or colors. http://www.instructables.com/id/No-Sew-Fleece-Blanket-1/
If you’re anything like me, you know that it feels like each year gets busier with activities, and doubly so as the year comes to a close. So don’t wait until the leaves start changing colors to start planning for the holidays. After all, they’ll be here in less than 100 days (don’t sound so crazy now, do I?).
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.