It’s scary to think that Christmas decorations are slowly starting to pop up in stores and that the Boney M Christmas jingles will soon be blaring out. It’s only October but I’ve spotted the first Santa already! May seem silly but it’s definitely worth to start planning for Christmas early.
Even though we’re weeks away from the December holidays, we need to start planning our expenses so that we don’t get caught in the marketing and emotional hype.
Listen to a discussion about this and some other chatter on my Cape Talk Radio interview
Why do we spend so much money on Christmas?
This may not be an issue for everyone, but generally speaking most people overspend on gifts, eats, decorations, travel, etc. All for this one day! And it’s not just Christians that celebrate the holiday, many people now celebrate as they have holidays over December due to the incessant marketing of Christmas in ads and in movies. And of course, it’s nice to celebrate the end of the year with family and friends.
But why do we spend so much?
The biggest factor is probably the emotional pull on showing love and care. Such pressure is placed on us to buy big gifts for loved ones and to share gifts with all and sundry. And then there’s also the need to do bigger and better than the proverbial Jones.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good Christmas celebration including heaps of food, snacks, gifts, family, joy & love; but you do need to be realistic about the fact that it is really just one day. You could create the same joyous occasion on any day really.
5 Ways to save money by planning for Christmas early
Here area few things to think about as you start planning for Christmas early.
Set up a special December holiday / Christmas budget now so that you can start saving. Think about all the holiday & Christmas related expenses that you would like to make. Things like:
- Gift ideas and your gift list
- Travel plans
- Social plans; how many Christmas events are you hosting or attending?
- New clothes
- Home improvements you want to complete before people come to visit
- Postage / Packaging
- Charitable donations
- House-sitters, babysitters, pet care
Put a value to each of these items and see what you can realistically afford. Some of the expenses may be good decision (eg new clothing or home improvements) whereas some as “nice to have” extras.
By planning for Christmas early you will have a few weeks to prioritise your list and save up for the items on your list.
For this budget think about whether you will be able to save the necessary money over the next couple of weeks and whether any of these special expenses can be covered from other areas of your usual budget.
Everyone has their own views on this but for me gifts don’t need to be excessive. I see this as a time to show your love & appreciation of your friends & family, but it is only one small opportunity out of the entire year! You shouldn’t feel that this is the only sign of your love as you have had and will have plenty more!
Have a look at what this post on whether gifts are necessary within a relationship. Just some thoughts on it.
Some gift ideas & considerations:
- Don’t buy things just for the sake of it. If you can’t find something that you feel the person will love, rather delay the gift.
- Sometimes home-make gifts are appreciated more than store-bought. From baking to cute gift-boxes, nicely packaged pot plants, home-made jams, etc
- A secret-santa type of game where everyone only has to buy one nice gift and you all get a random gift. This allows you to spend money on something nice and useful and at the same time you can have fun making up all sorts of rules regarding exchanges and who gets what.
- Reuse gift wrap for find fun & creative alternatives. A quick Google search should give you plenty of ideas.
Decorations and festivities
Home decorations are fun but also a waste of money. If you think about it, most plastic or paper decorations are simply thrown away at the end of the day. It’s such a waste of money and it’s terrible for the environment!
So, scale down on the decorations and consider using last years ones (and keeping them for next year). Also think about what you can reuse at home in order to make fun decorations. If you have scraps of material or colored board you can make some banting. Fairy lights are also great as you can keep them for all sorts of events. Candles are inexpensive and flowers / greenery from the garden is much better than the store.
Be a little creative this year as you have the time if you starting planning for Christmas early.
Catering / Food
It’s known that most people over-indulge on this day (and sometimes a few days around Christmas). That’s okay, but there is unfortunately often waste in terms of food. There is literally only so much one can eat and left-overs can’t always be kept and much goes to waste.
Take a little time to prepare your menu and find out from others what they are bringing. You probably do this anyway but yet still land up with heaps of food. Perhaps you’re afraid of the table looking empty or afraid that there won’t be enough considering that everyone wants to feast.
Chances are good that you can just cut down a little.
Traveling over the festive period can be very expensive if you are particular about the dates you wish to travel. A bit of flexibility can really save you a lot of money on flights and potential hotel bookings. Plan your trip early and be prepared to change your dates according to where you find specials. The money saved on flights or other travel can really go to better use!
December holidays and Christmas celebrations are certainly to be enjoyed! If you don’t celebrate Christmas you can still enjoy family time and feasting! Make the best of it, enjoy it, but don’t be ridiculous with the amount of money you spend. Live within your means as you don’t want to be paying off your December debt for the whole of next year as that is really not worth it! And while you’re at it, have a look at how to avoid December debt this year.