Holiday planning: how early is too early?

Halloween will be here in a few short weeks and I don’t know about you, but in our home that means the start of the holiday season. Time to start thinking about Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Time to start sending party invitations, to start planning for ways to give back to our communities, to start buying gifts for friends and family, and to start holiday party planning. There are a lot of things we start doing and as it’s mid-October, my mind has started thinking about all the things I can do now to start getting myself ready for the holidays so that when they get here, I’m not broke and too exhausted to enjoy them.

Really, you want to start planning as soon as possible.  In fact, now would be a great time. It can be overwhelming and can lead to overspending if you don’t. There are still about 3 months until Christmas, so start putting away a little something extra towards presents. Just $20/week can add up to an extra $240 to have on hand at Christmas!

Here are some tips:

  • Create a list and not only an overall budget, but a per person/gift budget.
  • Make purchases early.
  • If you make a list, keep it with you.
  • When you’re out and about pick things up as you see them.
  • If you have coupons or they are on sale, even better!
  • If you need certain canned goods before Thanksgiving, check your store for their canned good sales.
  • Clip coupons and carry them with you on your shopping excursions.
  • If you know you won’t see someone until after Christmas you can put off purchasing their gifts until the post holiday sales, but remember to note that on your list and in your budget.
  • Something else to keep in mind: if you are purchasing gifts from direct sellers, they need to have orders placed by a certain time in order to make sure things are delivered in a timely manner and if you are making items for people, you want to have plenty of time to have them finished.

You’ll also want to try to get a head start on holiday baking. I stock up on canned pumpkin starting in September. This keeps me from trying to hunt for it in October/November when it’s harder to come by. I also buy pre-made cookie dough and stash it in the freezer so that I can pull it out in a hurry and throw a batch together for holiday get togethers, impromptu gifts and church functions. I also like to have it on hand in case my kids get invited out with friends or we have visitors.

The holidays don’t have to sneak up on you.  In fact, with a little thought and planning in the early fall you’ll be able to get a plan in place that will help you stay less stressed and more organized during the holidays.

Good luck!