Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Christmas Is Coming: A Plan for Painless Shopping

Image by Sister72

I confess, I'm not a fan of Christmas. I love the idea that you get together with your family and have a day of gifts and happiness, but most of my family lives 4,000 miles away from me and I usually can't get home more than once a year. 
The one thing about Christmas that wears me down is how expensive it can get. If you play your cards right and get ahead of the game, though, it can make everything easier and less stressful. 

Make a Shopping Plan

Now is the time to figure out what you want to get everyone. Make a list of what you would like to get for everyone. Include a dollar amount that you will be spending. Total that dollar amount up and add ten per cent to cover tax and the fact that you are likely to have forgotten something. There are 9 weeks until Christmas, but you want everything to be in your hot little hands a week before to minimize stress and allow yourself some wiggle room. Divide what the amount you need by 8 and that shows you how much money a week you'll be spending on Christmas up until Christmas. 

Now every week take your money and see what on your list you could buy with it. If you have items you can pick up, go and grab a few of them in your lunch hour or on your way to run another errand. If you don't have enough that week for an item, roll it over to the next week and keep going until you do. If you have a week where you aren't picking an item up, take the time you would spend doing that wrapping presents that you have previously bought.

If you follow this, you have the week before Christmas to do any additional preparation like cleaning the house up or cooking in advance, or picking up things you might have forgotten. 

Make Presents if You Can

I'm a huge fan of handmade presents. I knit a lot of gifts at Christmas time and I hope that they are well received. Knitted items are great, but another good inexpensive idea is to make up things like bread or cake mix, or pancake mix and gift that to people that you tend to give smaller gifts to. Pancake mix is a really good one because home made mix is cost effective and simple, and most people have the pans and added ingredients in their homes to make the mix up without having to buy anything new (like a bread pan). Some nice cellophane bags and ribbons along with hand written instructions on a small card can make this simple gift look sweet and special. 
If you aren't into making presents but still love the handmade feel, check out Etsy for handmade items. They have just about everything you can think of.

If you send Christmas cards, now is also a good time to start preparing them. You can purchase them and write up a few a week, then send them all in the first week of December. 

What other ways to you prepare for Christmas?
3 Months Ago on Distilled Rose Personal Finance

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