January 13, 2011

Tip of the day—Christmas 2011

In case you don’t know, Christmas comes every year in December.  Start saving, making, and buying now so that this year’s Christmas doesn’t break the bank.

  • Make a commitment to pay for Christmas with cash this year.  Start a savings account or start earmarking funds from your bank account for Christmas.
  • Make a list of all of the people you buy for each year.  Write any ideas you have for that person as they come along.  In June your friend might mention wanting something.  If you notice that she hasn’t bought it for herself by December, you have the perfect gift.  She’ll be amazed that you remembered.  Write down what you plan to spend on each person and what you actually buy and spend as you make purchases.
  • Start shopping now.  There are tons of after Christmas deals still available at deep discount.  Pick up a few extras so that you have a few gifts available for anyone you might have missed.  When you catch deals and sales, look through your list and see if anyone on it might like the item.  Don’t just buy something cheap for the sake of getting a deal.  A bad gift is just plain disappointing—don’t just buy it because it is on sale. 
  • Think about ways to streamline your list.  As we’ve aged, we give more family gifts instead of individual gifts.  For relatives and friends that live miles away, this works out better buying for each person in the family.  We can buy them something we know that they will all enjoy rather than just guessing on what each person might like.  Last year I told you that we have been making a donation to a local charity in honor of each of our neighbors instead of worrying about a gift or making something for them.  They all seem to appreciate it much  more than they would have something else. 
  • Start making homemade now.  In the dead of winter when you are snowed in, it is a great time to get crafty!  Look on craft sites and blogs to get some ideas.  If you make the gifts now, you’ll have a lot less work to do in the busy season right before Christmas.
  • By spreading out your purchases, you aren’t hitting the budget as hard.  Divide your annual Christmas budget by 12 and aim to spend around that amount each month buying gifts.  You’ll be so glad that you did when it comes time for Christmas, and you won’t be one of those folks around the water cooler complaining about the bills they have to pay in January.

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