It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
Or so we are told! The stresses of preparing for Christmas can often make you ask yourself whether it’s all worth the effort. We’re all different, some of us cope with the season better than others. Some people relish the chance to host parties, while others would prefer to simply turn up to those parties with a plate of food or a bottle of wine.
Probably the most stressful thing about Christmas is the expense, especially when it comes to shopping for Christmas presents. As December 25th looms nearer, our bank balances seem to shrink and panic sets in. The closer it gets, the more we stress. We all know that the most sensible idea would to plan ahead, to get everything prepared several months in advance. The reality is, though, that not many of us are that organised, what with the trials and the bustle of everyday life.
But don’t panic! Help is at hand. Here are some tips on how to save those precious pennies as well as saving you time, leaving you free to enjoy the holiday season:
It is a sad fact that Christmas has lost a lot of its magic and true meaning, in spite of the sparkle and glitter around us. Gift-giving was meant as a way to express love, peace and good wishes of the season, but now, with so much money spent each year, it has become commercialised. Many people feel pressured into buying expensive items, and Christmas is lost in the materialism of it all.
To bring a little of that meaning back, try personalizing your gifts using ‘arts & crafts’. It doesn’t have to be elaborate – that’s the whole point! With a little imagination you can knit, sew, carve, draw or even bake something, as long as it is hand-made and personal. The fact that you invested time, love and effort into it, rather than buy it from the store, makes it special. Remember, it’s the thought that counts, not the price tag!
As we become more conscious of our impact on our planet, one idea that is growing in popularity is that of buying used items, or, to use a nicer term, pre-loved items. The same can apply to gifts. If you have things that you haven’t used, perhaps gifts that you did not want or need, and they’ve sat in the cupboard for ages, why not give them to someone who might appreciate them? Of course, you should take care not to return a gift to someone who gave it to you in the first place… But if you are trying to keep costs down and have things lying around – these would be ideal. Whether it’s soaps, perfume or lotions, or clothes, or even books, you would be giving something that will be appreciated and would not have cost you anything!
Make a budget – and stick to it
One of the best ways to prepare for Christmas expense is to make a list, and check it twice…
Seriously, if you write down the names of people you intend to buy gifts for it will help you keep control over your spending. Set a limit, and keep to that limit. It is too easy to be tempted by all the sale signs in stores or on the Internet, like the Black Friday deals. But many experts agree that most people overspend in sales, tricked into paying more than they originally intended when tempted to buy more items, because the prices look lower. Yes, there are a few bargains out there, but a lot of items bought at sales were not needed in the first place. You might have saved 20, 30, 50 or even 80% or more. However, if you hadn’t bought it at all you would have saved 100%. If you do spot an item you wanted to give as a gift and it’s at a good price, great. But don’t get caught out by sales!
It is never too early to plan your budget, even for next year. So take heart, consider all of the advice above and make your holidays that bit happier.