Last week we started our Countdown to Christmas. Today marks 12 weeks away from the big day, and it’s time to think about who needs a gift. Maybe “needs” is a strong word, but it’s time to create a plan! Planning will give you a realistic idea of what you’re getting into, and will help keep you organized as you begin (or continue) your shopping.
Two things to factor into your gift-giving game plan: the Who and the How Much. Why should we start thinking about these things so far in advance of Christmas?
By identifying who we’ll be giving gifts to, we can start considering what they’d like and keep an eye out for deals. Planning ahead also helps reign in the list ahead of time so you don’t get carried away in the midst of a holiday shopping frenzy! Some ideas:
- Immediate family (within your household)
- Other family
- Close friends
- Kids’ teachers
- Others who provide a service to you on a regular basis (babysitter, hairdresser, mail carrier, etc.)
Identifying how much helps us focus on real numbers: both for helping to control overall costs, and for budgeting and saving throughout the holiday shopping season. Be realistic with yourself about what you can afford, and assign an amount to each gift recipient on your list. Remember, it’s not how much you spend on gifts, but the thoughtfulness that counts. Planning this far ahead will allow you time to look for sales or even consider homemade gifts–I have some great ideas for thoughtful (but not terribly expensive!) homemade gifts that I’ll share in the future.
Once you’ve made your list, add up the amounts you have listed. Is your grand total doable? If not, start thinking about places you can adjust. A few years ago, my siblings and I agreed to quit swapping gift cards, and just enjoy our time together over the holidays–it puts the focus on the kids, and our gift to one another is less shopping expense and stress! This might be an option for some people on your list–it might be worth a conversation now, before shopping gets in full force!
One idea for simplifying that I mentioned a while back in a Frugal Friday post is cutting down the number of gifts for my kids–the idea of a few special, well-thought-out gifts rather than spending the same amount on a ton of stuff. I came across two ideas, both of which I think are fantastic:
- Three gifts (because Baby Jesus received three gifts from the Wise Men)
- Four gifts: Something you want, Something you need, Something to wear, Something to read.
I haven’t decided which one we’re going to use, but I love how it will both simplify my shopping and save me money. I’ll focus on just a few things that they’ll really enjoy, and not feel the need to grab every impulse buy I see just because “it’s a great deal and they’ll probably like it.” Plus it’ll cut down on the clutter around the house, and will allow them to focus on enjoying a few really well-thought-out gifts. Most importantly, it turns the focus away from shopping and wrapping, and back to the real reason for the season!
We’ll talk a little more in the coming weeks about paying for Christmas, and hopefully share some ways to stretch your budget. It’s better to make the adjustments now, on paper, than to panic when you find yourself under a giant mountain of bills come January!
This week’s action plan:
Create a gift-giving plan. Identify who will be receiving gifts this year, and set a budget. If you’d like, use this handy free printable Christmas Gift Planning Guide created just for you! It has columns for recipients, gifts, budgeted amount and actual amount spent, along with check boxes for when gifts are bought and wrapped, and a final column to track whether you’re over or under your budgeted amount. Hope you find it useful!
If you missed the beginning of the series, check it out here. We’d love for you to pin or share these ideas too!