I may sound cliche when I say that Christmas is "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year", but for me it truly is. I love the decorations, music, delicious food, social gatherings and the overall focus on looking outward to uplift and brighten other peoples lives.
What I don't love is stressing out over what to buy for people, wrestling with the holiday crowd or how to pay for everything without going broke.
For my family, December is one of the busiest months of the year. Christmas is really a month long celebration with many events that we know to put on our calendar before the month even rolls around. We have lots of parties and concerts to attend.
Add in the family traditions and our anniversary and we literally have stuff happening almost every day of the month. It's one of my favorite times of the year, but it's also one of the busiest times of the year.
I'm an event planner at heart and my husband always tries to scale back my enthusiasm so that I don't get burned out and miss out on enjoying the things that I really care about most. One of the ways we do this is by planning for, buying, and prepping Christmas long before December even hits the calendar.
I'm going to share how we plan and buy everything in advance so that I really can enjoy my favorite time of year without stressing about money and holiday shopping.
Plan and Prep for Christmas Early
At the end of summer we start talking about our Christmas budget. We determine how much money we want to spend. Typically we set a budget for each kid and then have a budget for some family gifts as well. The smallest kids have a smaller budget because honestly, they care more about the wrapping paper than the actual gift.
In October I start shopping around. In recent years, we have started doing a lot of our shopping online. We are signed up for daily deal emails that alert us to really good prices on items we want to buy. I have also noticed it is easier to comparison shop that way. Another way we save is using coupons or even buying some items on clearance. Throughout October and November I slowly buy all of our Christmas.
Our focus is on teaching our kids that quality is better than quantity so we try to get them one big gift and then a few smaller items. We ALWAYS consider items that they need (such as clothes, shoes, books, and hygiene items) before spending money on little stuff that they may or may not even like a month later.
Along the same line, we mostly buy small necessities for stocking stuffers with one or two special items that are a splurge for Christmas. We round out the stockings with a little bit of really good quality chocolate and oranges in the toe.
Once the shopping is complete we spend the last week in November wrapping everything. My husband and I will usually stay up late one night and make a party of it. I have a wrapping tote that has everything I could possibly need in it. I bought it after Christmas in the clearance section for a few dollars. It holds wrapping paper, tissue paper, bows, ribbon, bags, boxes, gift tags, pens, scissors, and tape. Everything I could possibly need to complete our wrapping frenzy.
Shopping with kids
Once that portion of our shopping is done (and we've found a stellar hiding place for all the gifts) I can focus on helping the kids with their Christmas shopping. My husband and I take turns taking our little kids to the Dollar Store or Walmart so they can buy gifts for everyone in our family. They also buy presents for their grandparents' as well.
We aim to get all of their shopping finished the first week of December so that I can spend the second week helping them wrap all their gifts.
Then we promptly hide them away somewhere WAY up high where they are out of sight ( and hopefully out of mind). One year we made the mistake of putting presents for other people under the Christmas tree. Our kids, KNOWING what was in the packages, opened them up because they were so thrilled with the idea of presents. Lesson learned.
We sail into Christmas week as calm and relaxed as one can be. It's so easy to feel peace and goodwill toward men when we stick to our budget and have all the shopping done well before we begin all the other festivities in December. Then we really do enjoy looking at Christmas lights, going to parties, baking Christmas cookies, and singing. It is after all "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year."
What are your tips for sticking to a budget and getting ready for Christmas? Post the tip that you like best or one of your own on Instagram #peachtreedr or share in the comments. Thanks!
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