Many people tend to feel overwhelmed and financially burdened when the holidays come around. Whether because of travel expenses or the costs of gifts, the holiday season can sometimes feel less like a blessing and more like an inconvenience with all the perceived costs involved. However, with a little planning, you can take the stress out of this holiday season. Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Plan ahead. It is almost October and a great time to get a head start on that Christmas shopping (I started my Christmas shopping in September). Many people tend to wait until the last minute to go Christmas shopping, which causes panic, and also causes them to spend more money than they would prefer to since they don’t have time to adequately look for thoughtful and reasonably priced gifts. Make that Christmas list now and begin to think of gift ideas for every person on your list before you begin to shop.
2. Try to do it yourself. Now more than ever, people are starting to realize that the value in gifts does not lie in how much the gift costs. Rather, the value lies in the thoughtfulness of the gift and how much use the recipient gets from the gift. Instead of going out to buy any old gift (without much thought or consideration), try to craft a handmade gift for your loved one. Popular ideas include holiday treats (cookies, candies, cakes, other pastries), homemade soaps and candles, hand-made cards, and hand-made knittings. If anyone wants to know, I’ve always wanted a hand-made quilt as a gift-I have yet to receive it!
3. Think outside the box. Instead of “traditional” Christmas gifts such as sweaters, video games, or electronics, think of other nice gift options, for example, tickets to a concert, local art museum or show, or babysitting services.
4. Have a gift exchange within the family. Depending on the size of your family, no matter how inexpensive a gift is, if you have many presents to give, the cost could add up to a significant amount. This is where a gift exchange comes in handy. Instead of having to give a gift to everyone in the family, pull names within the family so that each person only has to give one gift.
5. Save now specifically for Christmas travel costs. No matter how far in advance people realize they will have to travel to spend time with family for the holidays, when the time comes, the costs involved always seem to be a sore spot in their holiday cheer. This is why it’s a good idea to set aside funds now specifically for the cost to travel. Fuel prices are still high and if you have to travel by air, the ticket prices around peak holiday travel times soar, to say the least. If these funds are already set aside, the stress is alleviated, and your holiday travel is all the more fun.With a little time and planning, gift-giving this holiday season can be both fun and economical.