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We are a gift-giving family. It’s our love language and it’s truly how we communicate our care for others. We just love to love people by giving them gifts. So, yeah, Christmas gifting is kind of our thing.
We love to make lists and think of the perfect gift. And don’t even get me started on how we can go overboard on the kids' gifts. This is why it’s so crucial for our family to have a solid plan for avoiding last minute purchases.
Here are some tips we’ve gathered that work for us. Maybe some of these ideas will keep you from the edge of last minute mistakes.
Keep Your Budget In Front of You
We like to keep a running total of what has been allotted and what has been spent. If you made a Christmas budget then this is easy. But even without a budget, it’s important to know when to say when.
We make a list of the amount that we think we’ll be spending. Then we add in any store gift cards and gift certificates that we’ve saved up for the holidays. Also, we can’t forget to add in the supplemental income from Christmas services.
Now it’s all subtraction from here. Every purchase for gifts is deducted, of course. But we also keep track of cards, stocking stuffers, decorations, and food. Basically anything that is specifically purchased for celebrating the holidays and different than our monthly budget comes from this running total.
Keeping our budget in front of us let’s us know when to put on the brakes so we can make sure to make it through the month, get everything we need, and avoid dipping into debt. It helps us control the flow of money so that we buy all the gifts we need at their best price (usually earlier in the season) and don’t have to run around hunting for “just one more” last minute gift that will probably cost us more money.
Keep Inventory of Gifts
Our family has to keep track of what we’ve bought. This is not the same as subtracting them from the budget. I mean we have to keep a list of items we’ve bought and what we still intend to buy for each person. I keep my list in my phone so it’s always with me and because I always lock my phone…so no peaking from curious little eyes!
I’m going to be honest in saying that this tip was developed out of a terrible year of gifting for us. We didn’t have a list and we didn’t keep track of what we’d already purchased. We were just buying things as the mood struck us and getting what we knew the kids would like. It ended up that we had 4 times as many gifts for one of our kids compared to the others. I felt awful. We just kept finding more and more of the “perfect, oh they’ll love that so much” gift. To keep a better balance, we ended up having to put some of those toys away for the next birthday.
The gift list in my phone reminds me of who we still need to shop for and gives me a gentle nudge to know when to avoid the last minute “perfect” gift for someone that's already been accounted for.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
My husband loves to wrap presents. Birthdays, Christmas, any time is a great time for wrapping paper, ribbons, bags, and bows. He’s meticulous and the packaging is always just right. It brings him so much joy to see the kids excitedly tear through the paper when it’s their turn to open a gift. This is a completely perfect situation for us because putting the presents under the tree saves us so much money in the long run.
Here’s what happens when we wrap gifts and place them under the tree:
Cozy Up and Stay Home
We spend money when we leave our house. It’s just a given fact for us. So to remedy this issue, we plan a TON of time at home in December. We rent holiday movies, borrow special books, and just plan a lot of laziness and family time.
This keeps us off of our laptops and out of the stores. This might be the simplest tip that has the biggest reward. What could be better than spending quality time instead of spending money?!
Unplug from the Marketers
Christmas is big business for retailers. That’s why those shiny and flashing emails, ads, and coupon codes seem to be bigger and better around the holidays. Everyone is trying to convince you to give them your money.
If you’re attempting to avoid the last minute purchases from online retailers here are my tried and true tips:
Giving gifts is a huge part of the holidays. Use these tips to keep you from spending too much at the end with needless last minute purchases.