It’s hard to believe that we’re already half-way through August. Soon the Christmas decorations and radio ads will start popping up and we’ll be right into the countdown til Christmas! It seems to happen earlier each year, and each year the financial pressure of the season seems to bite just a little harder. Even before the Christmas anticipation starts to build, it pays to start creating a plan to make Christmas more affordable, and planning on how to juggle the various expenses. The cost of Christmas shopping can be a real source of stress and worry for many at this time, so we’ve put together a few tips and ideas on how to cope.
Start as soon as you can, and make a budget. Get a notepad or spreadsheet and make a list of all the different expenses to come. You could even create a dedicated bank account to make regular deposits into, at intervals that will ensure you’ve saved the total cost by the time Christmas day rolls around. If you see a bargain on one of your list items, by all means buy it when it’s cheapest, your regular ongoing savings mean you’ve got it covered.
It’s a good idea not to leave your shopping until the last minute – you’ll have no choice but to buy at the current prices and be at the mercy of the retailers. Keep an eye out for specials throughout the entire lead up to Christmas and get them during sales and specials.
One strategy besides careful shopping is to reduce expenses even further with a little bit of crafty resourcefulness. Christmas presents are an opportunity (especially when the kids are young) to exercise your DIY skills and put together some thoughtful handmade gifts. Grandparents and relatives will love to receive personalised craft projects: decorated jam-jars filled with home baking, or wooden ornaments that will become treasured memories with real sentimental value.
In the same way that gifts can be make-it-yourself, decorations can also be ‘restoration jobs’, decorations that have seen better days that just need a bit of T.L.C., or decorations made from scratch out of recycled materials. In years to come children will love looking through the xmas decoration box and finding their creations – include their name and year on them if you can!
The internet is absolutely your best friend when looking for inspiration and ideas for these little projects, make the most of this incredible resource, starting with sites like Pinterest.
Food is often a major source of stress for the family chef! But this doesn’t need to be a cause for anxiety – just remember that Christmas day isn’t the final of Masterchef, it’s not a competition for who can create the most lavish, restaurant-grade spread! Just keep it simple, and you’ll find the food costs will stay manageable.
An excellent idea for keeping on top of the cost of Christmas is to do secret santa (you might know this from your workplace). Each person draws one other person out of a hat, and while the present they buy for them can be a bit more extravagent than they usually would for that person, this is greatly offset by the fact that they are only giving a single present in total. This is a great stress-relief, removing the performance anxiety of trying to please everyone!
In the new year, make a copy of your planning lists and budget, and start again for the next Christmas. The earlier the better – who knows, it could be the beginning of a lifetime habit of having total financial control over the holiday season?