It is hard to believe that we are almost through October. Halloween is almost here and then comes the holiday season. If you look around you may even see the Christmas displays already up at many of your favorite stores.
Christmas is a meaningful and precious holiday (a holy day) and it deserves to be celebrated without nerves being on edge and credit cards worn from overuse. As with so many areas of life, a little planning on the front end can mean a far better outcome on the back end. So here are some suggestions for reducing the seasonal stress of holiday shopping.
1. Make a Christmas budget. Budgets help ensure that you don’t spend more than you have. They mean that you know how to avoid January overspend depression. It isn’t a bad idea to have an idea of how much you would like to spend overall and on each person.
2. Make a gift list. Christmas lists are not only for who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. Write down everyone to whom you would like to give a gift. This list should include everyone from the mailman to Grandma Betty. Some gifts may cost very little (home baked bread or pies for the teacher or mailman). Others may need a bigger allowance. This is where assigning a dollar amount to each person can be helpful.
3. Make a savings account. It can be a formal Christmas account at the bank or it can be a glass jar at the back of a kitchen cabinet with your secret unspent grocery money and change. Ideally, this is a year-long endeavor.
4. Make a page for keeping track. If you think of a great idea for Uncle Bob – write it down. If you buy a gift for someone – write that down too. Keep track of how much you spend on every purchase.
5. Make a plan. If you want to keep Christ at the center of your Christmas celebration, have a plan for doing that. Inspirational gifts are one way to keep the focus on Christ. If you don’t have a plan to keep things centered, it is way too easy to get swept away by the whirlwind.
6. Make an online shopping date. Looking online for presents and inspirational gifts is a great way to lower the stress quotient this Christmas. Online shopping means no parking hassles, no crowds to deal with and no tired feet. Many online stores offer free shipping so there is really no reason not to enjoy the convenience. And if you shop early there is a great selection – no Black Friday ‘out of stock’ issues.
Don’t let your Christmas season turn into a runaway freight train. Start now and it you can get a lot done before the press of Christmas activities begin to fill every slot on the calendar. If you’re looking for a place to find inspirational gifts – check out The Printery House, an online gift store run by the monks of Conception Abbey. Then when Christmas is here enjoy the time you have celebrating the birth of Christ.