Where has the year gone? Believe it or not, the holidays will soon be with us. Along with the turkey and the trimmings, another holiday tradition—gift giving—is something most of us include in our annual to-do’s. Before things get crazy, as they always seem to near the end of the year, now is a great time to plan ahead and get a jump on this year’s gift-a-palooza.
Determine your gift-giving budget. To prevent overspending, it’s always a good idea to know what your limit is. Instead of going into debt during the holidays, take a few minutes and look at your overall financial picture. How much can you afford to spend this year without busting your budget?
Make a list. Now that you have an idea of your overall budget for the holidays, it’s time to create your gift-giving list. Make a list with multiple columns—the person’s name, a few gift ideas, and the cost of each gift. Fill in each column, and at the bottom of the sheet, total up the amount that you’re projected to spend. If it’s on target with your budget, great! If not, see which gifts can be cut from the list. Keep changing items until you are within your gift-giving budget.
Look for the deals. With your final list in hand, it’s time to search out bargains wherever possible. Deal-finding sites like fatwallet.com, slickdeals.net, and comparison shopping sites like Google Shopping and Frucall.com can help you stretch your gift-giving dollars. Of course, not everything you’re looking for will have a discount, but it’s definitely worth spending some time looking—you might be surprised at how much you can save!
Find the time-savers. If you order online, look for stores that can gift-wrap for you and ship directly to the recipient—saving you time and a trip to the post office. Many retail stores offer gift-wrapping services as well. If you have a number of gifts that need to be shipped, gather them all together and ship them at one time, rather than in multiple trips to the post office. Finally, if you’re buying an item that’s likely to be in short supply, like a Nintendo Wii, start your shopping right away so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute.
Remember, the act of gift giving should make you feel great—not overwhelmed—and your recipient should feel happy with the affection you’ve shown in the form of a tangible item. Act now to organize your gifting, and you’ll have a lot less stress when the holidays come around!