The holiday season is the happiest time of the year, with twinkling lights, joyful celebrations, and quality time with loved ones. Despite the cheer, holiday stress can set in if you wait until the last minute to shop. Planning your Christmas on a budget early is the best way to finish your gift list without overspending.
Knowing how much you can spend on your Christmas budget, how you’re going to allocate that money, and creative ways to save on gifts will help reduce seasonal stress. Keep reading for tips to prepare you for Christmas shopping on a budget.
Christmas shopping on a budget:
The first step to any good budget is knowing how much you need to spend. Review your bank and credit card statements from previous years to estimate how much you typically spend during the holidays.
Of course, what you typically spend during the holidays may not fit this year’s Christmas budget. Try to include all of this year’s holiday expenses, like:
Every budget you create should be built around the amount of money you have available to spend. Your first step is to set a dollar amount for all of your holiday expenses. If you have a holiday savings account, consider how much you’ll be contributing each month throughout the holiday season and work the anticipated savings into your budget.
Next, segment your dollar amount into your specific holiday spending categories. Determine how much you’ll need for Christmas dinner, gifts, and anything else you want to buy this season.
While you work through your spending categories, consider where you can cut your spending. You may have plenty of holiday decor from previous years, for example, so that money can be used elsewhere.
When every dollar is accounted for, you’re ready to start shopping!
Make a list of everyone you want to get a gift for so you can segment your gift budget even further. When you know exactly how much you can spend on each individual, you can shop with efficiency and confidence that you won’t overspend.
If your gift list is longer than you anticipated, consider other ways you can save. For example, ask your friends to play a holiday gift game instead of getting a gift for everyone individually.
The Santa Shuffle printable dice game is a fun way to exchange presents so everyone gets a surprise. All you need is a gift for each player and the printable die, so have every player bring one present for the game. Once the die is assembled, each person takes a present, then everyone gets a chance to roll the die until each participant has opened a gift.
The holiday shopping season has several big sale days, including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday. These shopping days can be a great opportunity to save on select items — especially electronics and furniture.
Keep an eye out on deals throughout the season, too. Promotional Black Friday sales aren’t always as good of a deal as advertised. Watch prices in the weeks leading up to Black Friday and compare them to the sale ads to make sure you’re getting the best price.
You can also opt to skip the busy shopping crowds and still save on shopping. Browser extensions like Honey allow you to automatically apply coupon codes and compare sale prices across the web to get you the lowest price possible. You can also use credit cards with cash back rewards and gift cards to help offset the cost of gifts.
You don’t have to buy expensive gifts for everyone on your list. Simple homemade items can be just as meaningful and show special appreciation for the gift receiver.
If you have a skill or hobby you enjoy, consider if your friends and family can benefit from it. A graphic designer could make a new logo or sign for their aunt’s small business, and a fiber artist could crochet simple plush animals for kids in the family.
Of course, there are several DIY gifts that don’t require years of practice to get perfect. Consider hot chocolate kits with hot cocoa mix, marshmallows, and sprinkles in a jar with a festive mug. You could also make soothing bath products like sugar scrubs, bath bombs, and hair masks with affordable ingredients you likely already have at home.
Baked goods are another affordable holiday favorite and easy to do with a little practice. Bake cookies for your friends and family, and decorate them with icing or sprinkles. Print out the cookie stencil below to decorate your cookies perfectly every time.
Skip gift giving all together and opt to share quality time and generosity with your friends instead. Little favors like shoveling your neighbor’s driveway or babysitting your niece show you care and may mean more than a stocking stuffer would.
Pick up a new hobby with your loved ones and spend more time with each other year-round. Create a scrapbook of your family memories together and enjoy the memento for years to come.
You may be surprised just how much you can save on your holiday budget by shopping at the dollar store. Buy wrapping paper, ribbons, and gift bags for just a dollar each.
There’s also plenty of options for stocking stuffers and other small gifts. Stickers, dolls, and classic toys like Rubik’s Cubes are especially great if you have children on your list.
If you’re making your own gifts, you can find affordable craft items like glass jars, glitter, and stationery paper to complete your projects.
You can even double up on uses by wrapping your gifts in a scarf or filling a basket with goods. Or you can print your own wrapping paper with the perfect design and a touch of personalization. Use this printable joke wrapping paper to share a laugh with your loved ones. Each design has a joke on the outside that reveals the punch line when you open the gift.
If you’re tight on cash, you can still finish your Christmas shopping with a loan or credit cards. A credit-building loan can get you the money you need while also improving your financial health as you pay off the loan.
You can also get an installment loan to get cash now and repay the amount over time. Possible’s installment loans give you several months to repay your loans versus the two weeks that other payday lenders offer for repayment.
Save yourself from seasonal stress next year and set a New Year’s financial resolution to save money each month for the holidays. That way you know you’ll have money to spend and can build a more accurate budget for next year’s expenses.
It’s also a good idea to start a “present closet” and pick up gifts year-round. You can buy for specific people in your life, or just collect neat gifts to use for holidays, birthdays, and any other occasion.
The holiday season is full of joy and excitement, but sometimes shopping stress takes the cheer out of it. Celebrating Christmas on a budget may seem hard, but with the right Christmas budget, clever savings hacks, and some practice, you can enjoy the holiday season without breaking the bank.