With Halloween behind us, the holiday season is inching closer with each day. And it’s the best. But also terribly expensive. Can I get an amen?
While many of us love shopping for and giving great gifts, we’re instantly bummed out by the expense of it all. And my goodness, does it add up fast! Wouldn’t it be awesome if our pockets were as deep as our gift giving dreams? Sadly that’s not the case for a lot of us.
I am one of those who has a big family and a limited budget. For years, I’d just sort of wing it once December arrived. I would maybe have a loose dollar amount in my mind that I wanted to shoot for but wouldn’t really track my spending or plan ahead. My shopping felt impulsive, and the chaos and cost of the season caused a lot of stress for me (but let’s be honest, mostly my husband who watched our checking account more closely).
Over the years, however, I’ve learned how to maximize a modest budget and still purchase great gifts for a long list of people. It requires some planning and prepping ahead of time, and I definitely can’t wait until December to get started! Here are some of my current tips and tricks for great early bird holiday shopping…
Make A List
As early as September I start making a list of all the people that need gifts in December and set a monetary goal or limit per gift. That gives me a rough idea of how much total money to budget in for November or December to purchase all of the gifts. Don’t forget to add teachers, coworkers, your boss, or neighbors on the list… consider anyone who may deserve a little something, even if it’s just a small $5 or $10 giftcard! If you go into the shopping season with a solid plan, your bank account (and brain) won’t feel as drained.
Stick to a budget
Confession time: I’m a spender. I love trends, handy items, and giving great gifts to my loved ones. But certain seasons of life just don’t allow for unlimited spending. My ability to stick to a budget became so much easier and fun when I discovered a great way to track my spending and set specific goals. The EveryDollar app has been a game changer for our family. We can plan ahead and track our expenses in real time. It’s straightforward and easy to use, which is a must for me. Our Christmas budget is ready to go for both November and December. I know the amount of money I have available to spend without breaking the bank. Maybe you’re an Excel sheet sort of gal or can track expenses accurately in your head — whatever your method, USE IT.
I love Amazon. I think 80% of what I own came from Amazon. And I LOVE the wish lists feature. It’s a great place to track your own list of gift ideas for yourself, which means you can easily share it with friends or family when they ask for ideas. It’s also a great place to start saving ideas for others to purchase when you’re ready. I created a “Christmas 2018 Shopping List” in early October and started adding ideas for my 3-year-old. I’ll keep an eye on the items over the next few weeks to see if prices drop as the November sales hit and will start purchasing them throughout the month to spread out the shopping. The list feature helps to keep things organized and ready to go for whenever I’m ready to buy.
I have a big family and my husband has an even bigger family. A few years ago, our siblings decided to start drawing names rather than buy gifts for everyone, which was getting expensive as more of us got married and started having babies. A great tool for drawing names is DrawNames.com. It does all the work for you! As long as everyone in your gift exchange has an email address, you’ll be good to go. You can even create a gift wish list within the site so that whoever draws your name knows exactly what you want. And if you’re stumped by coming up with any ideas, DrawNames.com can make recommendations for you based on your interests. We love it! It’s made the gift giving process so easy. Another tip: draw names as early as October so that shoppers have plenty of time to take advantage of the sales that happen throughout November.
Shop the sales
If you go into November with a holiday gift budget and plan, you’ll be so glad you did! The holiday shopping deals seem to start earlier every year and you don’t want to miss the chance to save some money and still snag a great gift. Be sure to keep your eyes open the week before and after Thanksgiving when most stores (online and in-person) are offering Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Don’t miss out!
And of course be on alert for great deals on our In A Pikle products, which are happening all month long! We are confident that we have something for everyone on your shopping list. If you’re in need of a gift that’s unique and affordable, look no further than In A Pikle this holiday season!