Ya’ll. Holiday shopping is both my favorite thing and maybe the most stressful part of my entire year. I don’t care how prepped you are, it takes an emotional toll. The financial hit. Finding the perfect gift for the people you love. And please, let’s not discuss wrapping all that nonsense. And I know your solution is to buy everyone a gift card and throw it in a gift bag and be done by Black Friday. It’s just not in me. I have a strange cosmic pull to make lists, build budgets, agonize over final selections and wrap that mess in the trendiest paper I can find at Target.
That all being said, I’ve put together a few of my best tips to make easier what has become a bit of a beast for me.
1. First things first, you must put together a budget. I know, lame. My trick is that I downloaded a simple spreadsheet app on my phone and make a running list of everyone who will be receiving a gift from us in one column. In the next column I add how much I’ll be spending. In the third column I jot down a few ideas for what might fit in that budget. This makes the whole thing portable, less likely to get lost/forgotten and I feel more of an obligation to stick to it as I’m out shopping as it is always staring me right in the face.
2. Secondly, I live and die by free shipping. This is my first holiday season with Amazon Prime and it’s going to change things for me. In years past, I would fill up my cart until I hit the free shipping threshold. Unfortunately, at this time of year, you can’t wait too late in the year for that option because it won’t arrive in time (been there, done that). Most online stores have this minimum purchase amount/free shipping offer, however, it won’t be overnight shipping by any means. They will certainly take their time. BUT, make sure you aren’t missing out on some free delivery. When I was a younger woman, I loved the retail holiday shopping experience. Now I am older and wiser and I will avoid a mall parking lot at all costs. Remind me one day and I’ll tell you the story about being stuck in a West County Mall parking garage for well over 6 hours on the day after Thanksgiving trying to get in on a sale. Not. Worth. It.
3. Even if it’s not your thing, consider what you can make yourself. Before the days of having a bunch of kids, I did this a lot. I hope to get back into it again when they stop asking me to fill their sippy cup 1,368 times a day. I found this really adorable kit online last week that includes templates to make custom cross stitched family portraits. You buy one kit and it turns into unlimited gifts that I think most people would cherish forever. Of course, I’d have to have time and learn how to cross stitch, but if I could manage it, that gift would be way better than the 8th pair of slippers I’m about to give my grandma. I’ve made really simple wreaths, scarves, etc. This year I’m going to put handmade fleece blankets in my boys Christmas Eve box (along with a movie, pajamas and favorite snacks) using a tutorial just like this. Cheap and easy and if I find fabric they each like, it’s something they will be excited about and use all year. That’s a winner.
4. Cash in on your rewards credit card points. I’ve already started this for this holiday shopping season. I had a rewards card that had a nice buildup of cash back rewards (thank you 1st Financial Signature Rewards!) so it’s helping me buy the stuff I need. It’s like a gift card from my credit union to buy something nice for my friends and family. The gift that keeps on giving.
5. Open a Holiday Club account for next year. While you are in the branch looking into that Signature Rewards cash back credit card, ask a Financial Service Representative to set you up with a Holiday Club account. Set up automatic deductions so that every month you are prepping for this stress next year. My budget for this year says I’ll be spending about $800 in gifts and supplies in the next two months. If I set aside $65 a month for the next year, my 2018 holiday season will be just about paid for and I can rest easy. I also use the 1% High Yield Online savings account and the ever easy RollUp Savings account to help me prep for this season as well. There really isn’t a wrong way to save for big purchases.
Okay, that’s all I got. I hope this has been helpful. If you are like me, you’ll take any help you can get. Good luck with your holiday season. May it be full of cheese logs, cozy living rooms and budget-friendly surprises.
Live long and prosper,