Monday, June 13, 2011

Frugal Challenge - Planning for Christmas

organized Christmas

About ten years ago I decided to start preparing for Christmas earlier in the year. With kids and working I was always exhausted and stressed by Christmas from all the work involved in preparing for the holiday. One of the biggest problems was not planning for the financial impact of Christmas. I would end of charging things when I ran out of money in December and paying all year long for a Christmas that had long passed. I started  to search for ways to plan financially for Christmas and to make sure I only paid cash for gifts and supplies.

Here are a few of the things I have done that have helped me to be a cash only Christmas shopper.

First, I have a Christmas account and this is nothing new. These have been around forever. I admit I do occasionally raid it for the kids birthdays so I know I cannot rely only on this account.

So the second thing I do is to pick up gifts as I see them through the year. This has really helped with minimizing the shopping I have to do in November and December. One key is to keep all those early gifts in one place and to keep track of them. I'll share a link to a great site to help keep track.

Thirdly, since we have lots of teens who love gift cards to buy for, I start in about June to buy a gift card about twice a month when I do my grocery shopping. The stores all sell so many different kinds I just keep purchasing them and marking them off my list. A little extra in the grocery budget saves so much come Christmas time. I just store them in my gift cupboard. 

I also wanted to share a site with you that I have used for so many years now I can't remember when I started their holiday plan.

This site has all kinds of lists, ideas and ways to prepare for the holidays throughout the year. I now have my Christmas cards done in October and most of my gifts purchased and wrapped by Thanksgiving by following their plan.

They show you ways to bake and freeze ahead, how to start on your housecleaning systematically to be prepared by Christmas. 

Now, I will tell you I do not do all of their suggestions but I just do what I can ahead to make life easier. Some years I do better than others but the reduction in stress alone and more free time in December is so worth starting ahead. I find I am cranky if I am stressed at the last minute and who wants to be cranky come Christmas. Check them out and see if you can find some hints that may help your holiday planning.


  1. where were you 30 years ago,,lol.No , I'm kidding but I could have really used this common sense aproach when my now 30 year olds were small.Back then it was just as you said, struggling to meet all the demands at christmas.This is a wonderful post and couldn't come at a better time.If we all started now we could save our selves alot of hassle.Our christmas is different now,, we're also a bitmore financially secure (hope so, ) as we're retired now, but this is knowledge for everyone.Thanks so much for posting this,,

  2. Oh my goodness, isn't it the truth? I am beginning now to make gifts. I always say that I have to start making things in June, not two weeks before Xmas. So this year I AM!!! I pick up gift cards too when grocery shopping. It helps a lot!!! Great ideas, and now I will go visit that site!

  3. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing.

  4. I plan for Christmas all year too. It makes the weeks before and the actual day happy, joyful and stress free. Great post!

    Best wishes,

  5. Picking up gift cards a bit at a time is such a good idea!

    I found that Organized Christmas site 2 years ago and made up a notebook for it then -- it is a really good site with a lot of good tips. It makes the season so much more enjoyable to have everything at my fingertips, especially since I have to do the holiday dinners for the extended family -- I keep my menu, recipes, shopping list, and timing notes all in one place.

  6. a couple of years ago my daughter and I said we would fill each other's stockings with yard sale,thirft store,free samples, anything that was cheap. We had so much fun the first year and was so impressed at what we found we contiune to do it. and have expanded it for her husband and my husband.

  7. Sweet! Because of being disappointed in our Christmas' over the last few years, I made a list in January of people I was going to buy for this year and what kinds of things they might like. I'm happy to report that I've spent very little on things that I know they will love and will continue to do this from now on!

    Thank you for the extra ideas!

    Many Blessings,

  8. We usually go skiing during Christmas, and we save all year for it. We only buy each other one present, never more than three because Jesus only got three presents.

  9. I love that you posted this right now! I went back to teaching last fall and that sure rocked my world. I do not have time during the school year to shop, bake, and do all of the things that are involved at Christmas. (like that run-on sentence?) Promised myself that I'd shop during the year. Thank you for the reminder.

  10. Wonderful post!! I almost posted something along these lines just last week! I realized we only have a few months, and just a few paychecks until Christmas!! I want to start saving asap so I'm not stressed about money. Shopping and such doesn't stress me quite as much, but I know I would be better if I did more planning and organizing ahead of time! Thanks for sharing!!

    Monica @

  11. Thanks for the shout-out! I am so happy that you find my site useful!

    Cynthia Ewer, Editor
    Organized Christmas