Christmas time can be very stressful: parties to go to, family to visit, holiday community events, taking time off from work, decorating the house…the list goes on and on. But, the biggest stress factor of Christmas for many families is the toll it takes on the wallet.
Step 1: Set a Budget and Stick To It
Begin a Christmas budget much earlier in the year—decide how much you are going to spend total, then break it down by category. Decide how much money you will spend on each person and set a limit. Throughout the year, add into your savings account for Christmas to make sure you won’t go into debt and can afford all your gifts.
As Christmas gets nearer, don’t be afraid to start buying gifts before the rush. Shop the sales, such as Labor Day and Black Friday. Compare prices before you purchase, and do your research. Make sure that you are tracking your spending—setting a budget, but not paying attention to how much you spend is pretty much useless.
Step 2: Go the DIY Route
Going the DIY route is a great way to cut down on even more expenses, and it will really show your family and friends how much your know them and care about them. To do this well, you will need to be crafty or use your best judgment as for what you decide to make them.
Don’t be tacky, but try to make something that will mean a lot to them. For instance, if you have a book a bookworm on your gift list, create book marks or an adorable on-the-go reading pillow.
Include your children in your gift making process for other family members or friends: have them decorate mugs for aunts and uncles or create their own ornaments to give to their grandparents. These children-made DIY gifts will become super sentimental to your family members.
Use extra fabric, buttons, scrapbook paper, and other left-over crafting materials to make magnets, ornaments, jewelry and other sweet trinkets for friends.
Step 3: Cut Down Your Gift Lift
Did you know that you don’t have to give gifts to every single person you know? Think in tiers and prioritise your gift giving.
- Family is Tier 1—your spouse and your kids.
- Close friends and relatives are Tier 2.
- Coworkers, church members, acquaintances are Tier 3.
Focus your time, effort, and budget on your family. Your friends and relatives can have thoughtful gifts as well, but you don’t need to spend as much on them as you would your children or spouse. Tier 3 members do just fine with cookies or a small personal note.
With your relatives, do family gifts instead of individual gifts: board games, movies, family experiences. This way, the amount of gifts you are actually buying is decreased dramatically, but everyone still benefits from it. Your family could even rotate gift giving: your family gives a gift to your younger sister’s family this year and your older brother’s family gives your family a gift. Then, next year, it rotates.
Christmas tends to be the most expensive holiday of the year, and many families fear going into debt with all the Christmas gifts they have to buy. The recipient list can be almost endless. However, these three major steps can help you budget your holidays so you can afford all the gifts you need.
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