1. Make a budget. Be realistic and sit down with everyone in your family and discuss realistically what can be afforded. I know it’s not the hottest topic to discuss, but if your whole family knows the budget then their requests will be more reasonable and help lessen the stress.
2. Plan ahead. Know what you want for the Holiday Season whether it’s buying gifts for one another to having a sit down dinner or going on vacation. Again whatever you decide to do put on paper and start planning early. Its mid September but a few weeks from now your schedule may not allow enough time to plan for a wonderful stress free Holiday Season.
3. Write it all down. Once you know your budget and you start planning what you envision your Christmas Season to be like be sure to write it all down. This makes for a great quick reference and the human mind does not keep track of our decisions as accurately as we wish! Writing down your plan will help you stay within budget and keeps your expectations in check and realistic.
4. If you are purchasing gifts be sure to ask those persons you are buying for to give you a list of 4-5 realistic options within your budget. I know it’s not very popular to ask and you should be thankful for anything given but it’s nice to get what you like. I’m more for the surprise type but with the current economy I am more than thankful for items I do need.
5. Ask for needs. It’s not popular to get items you need, but it can be less stress for you when money is already tight getting items you are in need of. I like Starbucks but with small kids in my house the hubby and I rarely get an opportunity to use a Starbucks gift card. For our family a gift card to Walgreens would be more suitable.
6. Exchange childcare. If you do plan on going shopping consider shopping early in the year and exchanging child care with a friend. Take turns watching each other’s kids so you can go shopping in peace. Do you find yourself spending more money when you have your kids with you? Treat yourself to less stress and shop being relaxed and not rushed. If you truly need to save money plan out your transactions and don’t shop with others, this will help stay on budget and keep to a plan.
7. Shop Clearance and Discontinued items. So this may not be popular but if you have limited funds look for clearance items and be sure to keep your budget in mind when shopping around for items. Look for Manager Specials or closeout sales. Often times you can find some really good items fairly cheap if you just take the time to look around hence the reason start early.
8. Set up a Storage area. The worst thing you can do to yourself is shop early and accumulate your gifts and put them away in different spots and then when it comes to pull them out you don’t know where you put them. Designate one place to store those items. A cheap alternative is get a Cubby Tote drawer from Target for $2.50 from the $1 area and use that you place your items in and put it in a closet high for small kids not be able to reach. For bigger items consider a plastic tote 18 gallons or bigger or even the under the bed flat totes but make sure it’s a solid color and not a clear one.
9. Label Everything. When you buy a gift be sure to label with masking tape who the gift is for and for what occasion. If you are like me I will buy items when they are on clearance or at their lowest price and store them for birthdays or special treats but be sure to label them so you don’t have the hassle of trying to remember.
10. Buy after the Holiday Season. So let’s start early for next year! So you may find some discounted Holiday items right now but you will really save just after the Holiday season primarily the 2nd week of January all the way to the 2nd week of February. I spent $10 one year and got all my Christmas decorations including lights, ornaments (custom) and solid decorative bulbs, tree, wrapping paper, tape and much more for the following year. I waited till everything was 95% off and I am thankful every year after that.
Good Luck on your holiday shopping.