I’m sure the title of this makes some people think “woohoo, party” and other people think “gag me, it’s not even Labor Day and we’re already talking about Christmas.” I won’t get on a soapbox about it, but I have to say I can’t see why people get so worked up about Christmas paraphernalia being in the stores early. It isn’t like anyone is saying to celebrate Christmas in October or to forget about Halloween or Thanksgiving. I think it’s for preparers. Those who like to prepare far in advance and then actually rest, relax and enjoy the Christmas season with parties, festivities and excitement. Enjoy it without running around in too crowded malls like chickens with our heads cut off looking for presents at the last minute.
Last year I did a poor job with Christmas shopping and we ended up spending too much yet missing people and being way stressed about it in the process. This year I decided to up my game, lower my expenses and increase the personalization and thought that goes into the present buying. If you are like me (and let’s hope you aren’t, life is hard being very Type A) then getting started and finished early sounds like a great idea!
Here is this year’s system (and I’m almost halfway done buying gifts already!).
(1) Make a list of everyone who you need to buy for. This year I’m using this free printable that is cutesy and fun and helped put me in the gift buying mood. I listed everyone for whom we buy presents. Trust me, after you’ve made a list of all the people who you buy for you will most definitely be excited you started early. If knowing you need to buy 30 some odd gifts won’t launch you into budget and prep mode, then you’re a whole lot richer than me!
(2) List potential gift ideas and stores. I made my list a month ago and have been looking around online since then. Since I’m not pressed for time, I’ve actually enjoyed thinking personally about each person and what they might like. Instead of going to Dillard’s and randomly buying something on an end cap three days before Christmas because it was pretty (not that there’s anything wrong with that if it suits a person, of course), I’ve looked around and tried to find things that really remind me of that person, or things I know they’d like. I save ideas on etsy or pinterest and then when it’s time to buy for a specific person (see No. 3) I refer to my ideas.
(3) Divide and conquer. We decided each payday we could allot x amount of money towards gifts. So, depending on how much the gifts chosen cost, we buy accordingly. Some paydays we buy 3 gifts, some 2, some 4, etc. depending on the items. This way the money comes out in cash and needn’t be charged. There is nothing worse than a last minute trip to the mall four days before Christmas Eve where you haphazardly, randomly and unsatisfyingly spend $500 or more for a few gifts and then use all your Christmas money paying off the credit card bill. Buying in advance helps you monitor your spending and feel a little more free to be generous since you are paying as you go.
(4) Wrap, rest and relax. Of course you can wait until closer to Christmas to wrap presents, but I think wrapping is kinda fun so I’ve already started wrapping some gifts I’ve bought. The idea is to be done with shopping, all presents wrapped, and those needing shipping to be shipped by the beginning of December. That means socializing, parties, advent activities and general holiday fun can be the priority without worrying about missing shopping.
(5) Feel free to buy more later. One of the best things about my newfound method is that it means when December approaches and you find you have a bit more money than you thought, you can always buy more! When everyone is provided with a gift you can then still add on and get things you’ve head people mention they’d like, etc. This doesn’t pin you down to one gift you bought in August, but simply provides you freedom to not be harried when December approaches.
For what it’s worth, this is how we’re handling Christmas this year! I am already feeling more relaxed and excited about it all knowing that no one will be forgotten and that I won’t be trying to get to the mall with my 3 kids under 3 along with 23,536 other people and their strollers. Do you have a Christmas shopping tradition? How do you make sure no one is left out?
Don’t forget to enter the Baby Stash giveaway in honor of my soon-to-be newborn (3 weeks and counting)!