This is my favorite time of the year. I love the hustle and bustle. I love the decorations and lights. I love giving (and receiving) the presents and sweet treats! As I type by the light of our Christmas tree, I get a warm feeling dreaming about Christmas morning with my toddler.
While it is still November (at least for a few more hours), soon the days will seem to speed up and there won’t be enough time to fit in all of the shopping, the parties and the merriment! (Somehow we are already “booked” every Saturday and Sunday in December.)
So, how do I save time and money during the holiday season?
1) Make a spreadsheet. It is hard to remember from one year to the next what you purchased for each person and how much you spent. (Sometimes it is even hard to remember who you exchanged gifts with.) To combat my forgetfulness, I keep a spreadsheet every year with the name of each gift recipient, the gift we gave, how much I paid and the retail value of the gift. It may seem funny to document how much I paid and the value, but I usually have an amount I plan to spend for each person (say it is $20). If I am able to get a $20 item on sale, then I want to note that I saved money but also the value of the gift so I can match the value again the following year. I have been keeping spreadsheets for 5 years, and I can go back to see what I gave each person and who I have given gifts too. Makes my life so much easier!
2) Start Early & Stock Pile. Although this doens’t really help this year (sharing this tip on Nov 30), maybe it will help you plan for next year. I think about gifts for birthdays and holidays all year. This way when I see a great deal – like a $15 toy for $3 I can buy several and save them until the next birthday/holiday season. Having a gift spreadsheet helps here too because you can keep a list of what you have purchased so you don’t forget what is in your closet and overbuy!
3) Wrapping all of those gifts is a chore. To combat wrapping fatigue, I start early AND use (reusable) bags/boxes. Since I start shopping early, I wrap as I go – this way I am not up in the wee hours Christmas Eve. I also invested in a set of nesting holiday boxes for each member of the family. Instead of using (and wasting) lots of paper, I just toss each gift into one of the boxes for the corresponding person. I also bought giant Santa sacks for my daughter for her big toys. Not only do the decorative boxes make my life easier, they look pretty under the tree and help the environment!
Since I am always looking for ways to save time and money during the holidays, please feel free to share your best tips with me too!!!