As a single mom, the best way to eliminate the stress associated with planning for the holiday season is to get the ball rolling early. I can’t tell you how many times I felt like the holidays “snuck” up on me. Even though they come around the same time every year. 😊
What I’ve learned is, if you want to make gift giving an enjoyable experience for yourself and your family, a little bit of forethought really does go a long way.
When you start thinking about gift giving a couple of months early, you’ll be able to keep an eye out for great deals and promotions ahead of time. Right now companies are putting out tons of deals to get you to purchase. So you need to create a plan or you will get sucked into buying everything on sale. Plus, when you have a holiday game plan in October and divide out the biggest tasks well in advance, you’ll be able to enjoy the season and all the festivities without rushing around last minute.
When you have a step-by-step plan of action, getting through the planning and shopping aspects of the season will be simpler and less stressful.
Try these tips for planning ahead for gift giving starting in October:
1. Create your holiday budget early. When is a good time to create your budget? Now is great. A solid spending plan will contribute heavily to a stress-free and debt-friendly gift giving. Begin your seasonal planning by looking over your finances and determining how much you can really afford to spend. This is not to be confused with what you want to spend. Be honest with yourself, as this budget will carry you through the holiday and into the New Year. It will also avoid that famed holiday debt in the New Year.
- Address all aspects of the holiday season in your budget, including gift giving, entertainment, food, greeting cards, and anything else you need. This will ensure that you don’t overspend in November or December.
2. Formulate a gift list. Create a list of everyone you plan to give a gift to and compare it to your gift-giving budget. Set a spending limit for each individual on your list and trim your list if your budget cannot support it. (This part was so tough for me when I started holiday budgeting because I wanted everyone to get my loved ones what I wanted to give them. However, I knew I could not fiscally sustain that way of thinking. I promise it gets easier) Jot down a few gift ideas for each recipient (I usually do about 2 – 3 but do as many as you like) and run them against your budget before you set out to shop.
3. Readdress your budget. As the weeks go by, keep track of your holiday spending. How does this stack up against your budget? How much money do you have left? Is your budget currently on track, or are you in danger of overspending?
- You may need to make tweaks to your budget as you go, which is completely normal, but instead of raising the amount of money in your budget, just shift priorities as necessary. Can you get the runner that’s $49.99 or will the one on sale for $29.99 still look amazing on your table?
4. Start shopping early. The earlier you shop, the more time you’ll have to find the right budget-friendly gift. My daughter was always astonished that my holiday shopping was done in October. I even knew what we were eating for the big dinners! This will allow you to search for sales and bargains on the gifts you intend to give and food you intend to serve. If you want a budget-friendly holiday shopping experience, be ready to shop around, comparison shop, and use coupons throughout the holiday season.
5. Plan the party early. A great deal of planning is required for gift giving get-togethers. Plan early and address your plans often to ensure that everything falls into place. Create a budget and a step-by-step guide for planning the occasion.
When it comes to the holiday season, planning and preparation can go a long way. Put some thought into the holiday season in October and you’ll be a lot better off in December. There’s no reason to get overwhelmed with the holiday planning process by waiting until the last moment. To be honest, you just end up spending more money unnecessarily.
Avoid procrastination and get a jump on a stress-free, budget-friendly holiday season. This is the best way to ensure that you can enjoy a leisurely, memorable holiday with your family and friends.