By December 20th, how many times have you wished you’d set up a Christmas savings fund, or at least started your holiday gift shopping earlier in the year? We all know it’s a good idea to do most of the work early, but a rare few of us actually do it. (Yours truly included.)
If you haven’t started planning yet, the good news is — there’s still time. There are 12 weeks left until Christmas, which means time to save some extra money and definitely get a head start on your gift giving and event planning.
This year, I’d also like to challenge you to spend a few minutes thinking about what typically makes the holidays stressful for you. Then, let’s make a plan to stop those bad elves before they have a chance to put a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking.
So what’s the big holiday party pooper for you? Maybe it’s…
…the stressed out argument with your significant other that ends in, “She’s your Impossible-to-Please mother, why can’t you be in charge of her gift?”
…the Day of Reckoning, “How many $200 grocery trips have we made this week?”
…or the question I ask while staring at the tree every Christmas Eve, “I know we don’t want our kids to be super consumers, but is this enough to get excited about?”
So how are you going to head off the stress-starters this Holiday?
- Take the hardest person to shop for on your list, and get his or her gift NOW. Pretend this weekend is December 24th, and do your best. Just by taking the pressure off, you might end up finding the perfect gift.
- If you always find yourself wondering if you’re giving too much (or too little) to your kids, try a simple solution like the Want, Need, Wear, Read approach to gift giving. Too many toys leave a child not knowing where to focus. Give your child a few meaningful gifts, and you’ll see they truly value quality and thoughtfulness over quantity.
- Prepare your budget now. In my corporate world days, I grew to appreciate the value of spreadsheets. The grids and numbers satisfy my analytical side, and one crafted to tell a story through numbers is like heaven to both sides of my brain. So there’s no getting through the holidays without my Holiday budget worksheet. I figured since it’s been a virtual lifeline to me for almost 10 years, I should pass it along to help you with your planning too.
I print one copy at the beginning of the season and try to keep it in a small notebook I carry in my purse. When I shop online, I go straight into Excel and update the actuals right then, so the spreadsheet does the math for me. This copy will download as a PDF, but if you’d prefer to have it in Excel, just send me a note via the contact form.
This worksheet breaks down your planning into manageable sections:
- Gift giving
- Celebrations & Food
- Greeting Cards
- Events & Travel
- Charity & Giving back
I’d love to hear your feedback on the worksheet. Also, if it’s missing anything important, please let me know. We celebrate Christmas, so if you can add something that makes it more specific to your holidays, I’m happy to include that as well.
So while we’re still conscious of living in the moment and enjoying this beautiful season, this year we know the holidays won’t be taking us by surprise.