Start planning for the Winter Holidays with these five simple tips. Do this and I promise with you will slash your holiday spending by at least 25% or your money back (granted you are not paying anything to read this article, but I always did want to make that money back promise)
Step One: Start That List!
You need to grab a pen and a piece of paper and write out who you need to by Christmas Presents for now. This is the first and most important step.
Do you buy presents for everyone in your family, or do you do a Secret Santa Christmas Celebration? Do you buy for your friends, or are you on a Holiday Card only arrangement.
Think about those special people that you want to say a little thank you too. Does your hairstylist deserve a little extra love this year? Your Mailman? Don’t forget the teachers at your child’s school, and your children’s babysitters.
Step Two: Set Those Dollar Amounts
This is my favorite part. I know it sounds crazy, why would I get so geeked up about setting spending limits, but I turn it into a game. I look at what my budget for Christmas is, say $500 and I divide it up between the people on my list. My children may be $100 each and my stylist might only be a $5 gift, but once I have it on paper I stick to it. No questions asked, no exceptions. If I say that I am only going to spend $20 on a gift for a friends I do so, if that candle she has been longing for is $21.99, then I either have to find a sale, a coupon, or hope that someone else gets it for her.
This may seem like a cruel and unusual way to get holiday gifts, but remember we made a list, set a budget and now have six to seven months to shop. If that candle doesn’t go on sale in the next six to seven months then I don’t know what store you are shopping at.
Step Three: Decide On Basic Gifting Themes for Each Person
Right now you have a list with names and dollar amounts. It is time to do some thinking. What type of gift do you wish to get each person. Do you want to bake cookies and put them in a creative tin, or do you want to put together a lovely basket full of nice smelling goodies such as air fresheners, candles, and matches for a loved one.
Look at the list, think of the recipient, and write what you are thinking.
The beauty of this step is that you are not bound to your initial ideas. These are easy fall backs, so that four months from now, you can’t say, gosh I don’t know what to get for cousin Sarah? You just look at the list and voila you can refer back to your original idea.
My sister-in-law loves the color pink, so on my list I simply write “all things pink” and go from there with her theme.
Step Four: Start Shopping
Part of the beauty of this plan is that you have the next six months to scout out all of the sales. You know that every three month Bath and body works sells candles for $5, stock up! You have your budget, stick to it, but you are going to have to be creative. I love semi-annual sales, and find that 75% off Bath and Body Works or Victoria’s secret products are great gifts and you can get them at a fraction of the cost.
You know you have a lot of shopping to do, plan a day to go to an outlet mall. I think outlet malls can be incredible places to stock up on goodies at a fraction of the cost. Plan a day that you will drive out to your local outlet mall and hit the Pottery Barn Outlet or the Bath and Body Works Outlet. Stock up and save!
Also never underestimate the power of a good Internet sale. Do your research and find the lowest price on the products that you want. You can also often times find coupon codes on-line at places like coupon cabin or current codes. I always do an Internet search for free shipping codes for the Internet store I am thinking of using.
Step Five: Package Makes Perfect
It sounds cheeky, but it is true, it’s all about the packaging. In fact sometimes the packaging even outshines the gifts. I love going to Joanne Fabrics, or any other crafter and buying bulk gift giving bags and dressing them up! It’s time to break out the glitter pens, make sure you are stocked up on tissue paper, and for goodness sake do not forget the many exciting ways to tie a bow.
Planning ahead and following these simple tips can ensure that you won’t be pulling your hair out or trying to shake those last pennies out of your piggy bank to pay for the Holidays.