It comes every year, whether we're ready for it or not. That end of year shopping frenzy that leaves us drained emotionally and financially. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or just love giving gifts, most of us spend far too much money and vow to be better organised next year. Now if that's not you, please give us your tips below and don't bother reading the rest of the article!
My good old days
When I was homeschooling our kids, we always had lots of fun making presents, ornaments and anything Christmas related for at least three months beforehand. We spent a lot of time baking (we lived in Tasmania at the time so could do that) and making edible goodies. I even followed Fly Lady's Holiday Control Journal to get organised and have everything perfect for that special time of year. Okay, I admit it - I've always been an organisational freak who LOVES lists, and I LOVED Christmas!
By the time we got to six kids, added in an interstate move and our kids' disabilities, my organisational skills started to slide. Then we started outsourcing our kids' education (school) and somehow became even busier; my health took a nosedive and I just never seemed to get Christmas organised again. These days we're lucky if we put up even half of our decorations before Christmas, and I have to confess to having to do a mad 'gift card' dash on Christmas Eve because I didn't get everyone presents! Is it really bad to admit that I bought presents, stashed them and then forgot I even had them?
It's not relaxing when you do that. It's not 'Christmassy' when you do that. You look around on Christmas Day at the wrapping paper and plastic packaging everywhere; your kitchen is a huge mess and you'd really just like to sit down with a glass of wine, a box of chocolates and cry quietly in front of Love Actually. The kids have a different idea of Christmas though and don't hesitate to make you feel guilty if you so much as start humming, Christmas is all around me.
This year, I am vowing to not 'do that'. I want to enjoy spending time with my kids and husband on the one day of the year where I'm not going to get a phone call from a telemarketer. It's the one day of the year where it's okay to eat too much, open presents, laugh and tell stories, and know that you can leave all the mess where it is and nobody will care. Plus - you can sleep in the next day! Do you want to join me in taking back Christmas?
Let's Start S l o w
If you're one of those people who likes to jump in the deep end without any floaties, then head on over to the Organised Housewife and grab her printable Christmas Planner. It starts from June, but I'm sure you can catch up. If you're not keen on doing a full Marie Kondo on your Christmas festivities just yet, then join me in getting a slow run up to the festive season.
To save yourself some money, you're going to want to take advantage of any sales between now and Christmas. In order to do that however, you need to know what you want to buy. You need a list - whether it's a written one that you hide from the kids and your partner, or one on Trello, write it down!
Your list needs to have names and ideas for what they would like to receive. If you don't know - ask them! Everybody loves gifts that show thoughtfulness, so make your list thoughtfully. Don't just write down your significant other, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, favourite aunt and uncle, etc - what about your kid's teacher, the postie that actually does deliver your parcels, and your neighbour who never complains about your barking dog?
Now that you've got a list with some great ideas, it's time to think about where you can get those goodies from. Are there particular stores you like that will have a great sale for Black Friday / Cyber Monday? Maybe you've got some rewards points saved up on your credit card that you can redeem and go gift shopping with? Most online stores offer free shipping for higher value orders, so you can save on shipping costs by combining several gifts in one order.
Shipping is one of those expenses that we all hate - particularly when we've left it to the last minute and have to pay for Express Post! If you're buying online, think about shipping the present straight to the recipient. It might be cheaper to pay for gift wrapping and sending a separate card, than to pay for two lots of shipping.
Spread out your payments
Unless you've been putting money aside all year long for Christmas shopping, you're still going to need some cash to actually buy the presents. These days it's easier than ever to take advantage of sales and promotions, with the many Buy Now / Pay Later providers. The best time to use these is when there are big savings to be had, so you can spend less and spread your payments out. Depending on which provider you use, you can make payments weekly, fortnightly or monthly, for up to twelve months. Start buying now and you could even have them paid off before Christmas!
Traditional Lay-Buy has once again become available even for online stores (like us). The benefit of a Lay-Buy rather than a Buy Now / Pay Later purchase, is that you don't have to hide the presents for as long! Make your purchase and pay it off by the beginning of December, and you'll still have it in plenty of time to wrap and hide under the tree. If you're buying from us, you can even email us and we can work out a Lay Buy plan directly with you!
Sign up for Savings
Most online retailers will offer you some sort of discount or benefit if you sign up for their newsletter. Here at Wellbeing Choices we give you a 10% off coupon code with your first order, but we're also giving exclusive discount codes to our newsletter subscribers in the lead up to Christmas. So what are you waiting for, sign up!
Head on over to the next blog in this series: Making Memories at Christmas (without spending a fortune)!
Share your tips - please leave us a comment below with your best organisational and money saving tips for Christmas.