Have you ever found yourself stressed during Christmas season? Long queue at the malls, traffic jams, surprising credit card bills, parties and reunions, outfit shopping, dinner planning and decorating. Whew! There's just so much to do specially in our country where we celebrate Christmas the whole fourth quarter of the year!
Christmas is the joyous season of all and the most stressful, too. I, myself am guilty of getting stressed-out as the month of December comes near. I haven't decorated our house and have not started Christmas shopping. When I was younger, I start as early as September writing my list. But this year is a different story.
|Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography, at FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
Let me share with you my plan and tips on how we can make Christmas shopping for gifts less stressful for us frugal moms.
1. Create a budget. Just like when you are planning an event in the family, it is important that you start your shopping with a workable budget. This really depends on how much you are willing and BE ABLE to shed for Christmas gifts. Our spirits are willing to give but our bank accounts cannot.
So, start with an amount. It's also great if you can specify a ceiling and a floor for your budget - just make sure that they are not too far from each other. We are going to work around this budget all throughout our next steps.
2. Create a list and assign amount for each person. Now that you have the total amount you can spend for gifts, it's time to create the list of those who were naughty and nice. Start off listing the names of your loved ones first and then add additional people if your budget can still fit. Make sure that you put an amount for each person, this will help you discern later on what kind of gift you'd be buying for each.
If your budget will not permit for you to buy gifts for the whole labor force in the department you work for then just choose the special people you'd give presents this year. Don't worry, colleagues don't usually expect gifts from each other unless you're the department head or her lunch partner at the cafeteria.
3. You now have the list of names and the amount for each person. Great! Next, list the possible gifts and where you can find them. Another tip is for you to group your recipients - let's say a group for young kids, another for teenagers, and a group for the senior citizens. Why? Because malls use categories in arranging their floor plans depending on their particular market. Categorizing them will help you plan when and where you can buy the presents. Thankfully, you can also search the internet for actual prices of some items, specially gadgets. You can tweak your list based on your research.
4. Scan for sales. It's also the season of mall sales and bazaars. If you plan to visit any of them, go in the morning on the first day of the sale. Not only do you spare yourself from the crowd, you also get to pick the best items.
5. Check alternatives. Not all of us have the luxury to spend hours to shop. You can ask friends who bake goodies and order from them. Or perhaps a neighbor sells some unique novelty items. You can also check if there's a legitimate online seller for the item you're looking for. Be very careful though when dealing with online sellers - check their ratings, reviews, and legitimacy. Also, consider shipping fees as part of your budget.
6. Avoid temptation. Leave your credit card at home if you can and bring only cash. I admit that I sometimes get impulsive when I shop during sale days. "That nice looking curtain was calling me." "Oh, it's half the price and this china looks inviting." Buy only what you need to buy that's on your list. Remember the saying, "Ang tukso di nilalabanan, iniiwasan." (Temptations are not resisted, they are avoided) Repeat it to yourself when you see a red tag flagging you.
7. Stick to your budget. Read Tip #1. Remember when I told you that you can make a ceiling and a flooring budget? We cannot always expect the prices on the market be the same as our expectations. Some wonderful gifts can be as expensive as we have anticipated. Make sure that when you work around that budget, you are not going over your ceiling. Stick to it.
8. Recycle. Use boxes and wrappers from last year's gifts that you received. You don't only save some money but you're now an advocate of reusing and recycling. Hurrah for Mother Earth! :)
I admit that I keep those in case I suddenly need to box a birthday gift any time of the year. You can also use newspapers or magazine pages as wrappers. Be creative.
9. If you have no time to do #8, take advantage of gift wrapping services. Shop in the morning and during weekdays in between work (ONLY if you can) to avoid long queues at the gift wrapping stations.
10. Prepare your self as you would go into battle. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Bring only a small sling bag for your valuables so that you have 2 free hands to carry all the shopping bags. Also, eat before you leave the house. A grumpy hungry mama plus stress and fatigue do not go well together. I don't think that salesman would like to see a She-Hulk in his area. Also, if you can, bring a water bottle.
Whew! I hope I'd be able to do all of these. Haha! Need to create my budget and list now. Less than two months before Christmas!
Let me be the first person to greet you a Merry Christmas!