How to budget for the holiday season

You know what? This year, I’m dreaming of a white Christmas that won’t break the bank! I love giving presents and sometimes fall into the vacuum of ‘more presents = more love and appreciation for a person’. But gifts can easily become very expensive, and it is so much better to go with fewer, thoughtfully chosen gifts that reflect your love for someone more than a pile of impersonal, expensive junk. So here are a few tips to have a wonderful but slightly downscaled Christmas so as to not receive coal from your bank this year!

Set a limit – there is nothing wrong with sitting down with friends and family and discussing keeping Christmas a quiet affair on the presents front. Deciding on a number, i.e. 1-10 well chosen gifts, or a spending limit, i.e. no more than $50 per person, will give you a reasonable framework to operate in when it comes to the rush of gift buying and giving.

Set a budget – say you decide to go with a cash limit on presents. What I do is get a bunch of envelopes, write the person’s name and then put in their set amount of money in cash. Go to the store; spend no more than what’s in the envelope. Whether they get 1 gift or 20, you will not go outside your set amount.

Start Saving – the earlier in the year you work out your plan of attack, the more time you have to put some money aside from your earnings to cover Christmas expenses. And don’t forget yourself too! There is nothing wrong with a ‘to: me, from: me’ present under the tree, or a new outfit to wear to Christmas dinner.

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Seek out a bargain – the mid year sales are a fantastic time to get huge reductions on Christmas gifts. Store them in a secret spot, wrap them up so no one can peek, and enjoy a glass of eggnog free of the panicked, Christmas Eve queue!

Pop some Tags – head to a thrift shop this Christmas and grab some cool vintage bargains and unique gifts. Many of the items in second hand shops are in good condition and packaging so they are perfectly acceptable gifts. Plus, thanks to Macklemore, thrift shops are cool again.

DIY – if you feel up to it, making your own Christmas gifts is a way to personalize your gift giving. Nothing makes someone feel more loved and special than a box of homemade chocolate cookies or some iced Christmas cake. Other gift ideas include photo albums of the year’s happy memories, handmade jewellery or paintings if you are creative, hot chocolate mix and marshmallows in a jar… the list goes on so check out this list.

Save at the Co-op – don’t forget to use your lifetime Membership to snag great deals and discounts on the Co-op’s range of books, gifts, tech and games. There is something for everyone at the Co-op!!

Get people to pitch in – If you’re hosting Christmas dinner then you can always outsource slightly to your guests, soon enough you will have bubbly, desserts and nibbles from enthusiastic friends and family to add to a beautiful meal.

Be careful with Christmas decorations – if you keep your decorations well stored, wrapped in tissue paper and kept in a sealed box then you will have far fewer breakages and replacement costs next year. Also go easy on the Christmas lights – they suck up electricity burning brightly all night (and let’s face it, annoying your neighbours), so if you set them on timers or do away with them all together you will be saving yourself a nasty sting come January.

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Plan ahead – If you usually go away for Christmas in exotic locations then talk to your employer about time off and start ensuring you have back up money in your account for the seasons living expenses. Just because it’s the time of giving doesn’t necessarily mean your rent wont still be due!

I hope these tips help you keep your Christmas brilliant but on budget, after all ’tis the season to be jolly, not broke!!

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