Disclaimer: if we are friends, your Christmas gift will probably be here.
Are you sick of Christmas in July posts yet? I know I am but here I am, contributing to the problem. The reason I am throwing my voice in to the fray is one simple reason.
I’m already Christmas shopping. Yep, sure am.
For the past several years I have practiced year-long Christmas shopping, but this year, because I am unemployed, I have been doing it much more intently and thoughtfully. We have a big family and a small budget, so this is one way that I reduce the impact of holiday shopping.
Now let me clarify with this statement: I think there are lots of good ways to save for the holiday season so you don’t find yourself scrambling last minute. I probably spend the same amount of money that I would if I just shopped around the holiday season, so I do not see this as a way to save a ton of money. However, I do see this as a way to spread the spending out throughout the year and give myself loads of time to find everyone the perfect gift. This way I can buy a Christmas gift or two each month and then put that in to our misc. budget for the month. We barely notice these small purchases in our budget so I can make my gift money go far.
So, how do I do I Christmas Shop all year long?
Start with a list – Z. and I already know for the most part who will be on our Christmas list. We shop for each other, our parents, our sibling and their spouses, our grandparents, and the nieces and nephews. We also buy a small gift for each of Z.’s young cousins. Then we also have any friends we choose to buy something special for (sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t), and we draw for gifts with the extended family on Z.’s side. It makes for a lot of gifts but none of us are really ready to stop buying for our immediate families yet. If you have random office parties and the like, remember to add this to the list. Two years ago I cleaned up at a Philosophy sale and was able to put in a lotion and body wash for my office gift exchange and still stay in my $10 limit. Guess whose gift was the most fought over? 😉
Watch for sales, constantly keeping your list in mind. Kate Spade clearance sale in the summer gave me a chance to buy some beautiful jewelry for my sisters at a wonderful price, but these would have probably been outside of my normal budget if I had waited till Christmas to shop. So I pick them up and put them away for the holiday season. Same thing with the Victoria Secret semi-annual sale – picked up a body care kit for my mom at a fraction of the usual cost.
This sale shopping really does let you buy amazing gifts at lower prices. Every year, Z. buys me a Le Creuset piece and we watch the website all year. Sometime he will grab a piece in the early summer sale and sometimes he waits until Christmas time. But it gives him lots of options and price points to choose from.
This also gives you a chance to track prices. When I think of a good gift idea, I add it to an amazon list and then track the price for a while. Usually I can get it for 10% off or more the list price, and they will email me when the price goes down. Each month I go in and buy one item off that Amazon list.
Don’t forget about stocking stuffer! If you are someone who checks out the dollar section of target every time you go in – and I know you are! – look for fun items that can go in a stocking. I routinely find fun socks, pretty stationary items, or room décor items, that are perfect to go in stockings. Scan the store when you go in to shop a sale and see what you can grab.
I should also say this usually means I have all my winter birthdays shopped for long in advance too. Then when the black Friday sales start, I can focus on refreshing Z.’s professional wardrobe, rather that rushing to buy Christmas gifts.
What I don’t recommend buying ahead of time:
-Candy or food items. That is just asking for old and icky food.
– Items for small children, unless you are very, very close to them. I love my little nieces and nephews, but we live far enough away that I don’t always know what they are in to. We buy each kid 2 outfits and a toy, so we wait until their mom tells us what sizes they are and what their current craze is before we buy.
– People who buy a lot for themselves. I usually know which items my friends and family will splurge on for themselves and which they won’t. I try to buy gifts that people won’t buy for themselves. But, for example, I would never buy a beauty gift for a beauty lover who buys a lot of beauty stuff, unless I knew for sure that she didn’t have it. Does that make sense?
I hope this inspires you to start thinking ahead towards the holiday season and make a plan to manage those obligations before the holidays get here. But if not, no worries, I still love ya!