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It's very easy to overspend in the run-up to Christmas. Almost everyone spends money on new Christmas decorations or other items they don't really need.
The good news is that, with a little careful planning and preparation, you can reduce unnecessary spending and still enjoy a great festive season.
Find Christmas Items You Already Have
Before you do anything else, hunt through all your closets and search your basement, garage and any other storage places in your home.
Take out everything that relates to Christmas and put it one place. You may find that you have some or all of the following:
- Christmas decorations
- Artificial Christmas trees
- Christmas cards
- Christmas wrapping paper, tags, ribbon, scotch tape and other gift wrapping essentials
- Christmas crackers (bon-bons)
- Unwanted Christmas gifts.
Make the Most of What You Have
Look at each item and decide whether you will:
- Use it in its current state
- Adapt it and use it, or:
- Give or throw it away
Don't be too quick to decide to give or throw things away.
There are many ways to adapt items you already have. For example, if you no longer like the Christmas cards you bought last year, why not cut out individual designs from each card and use them to make gift tags, handmade Christmas cards or wrapping paper?
If old Christmas crackers (bon-bons) look out of date, you can dismantle them, cut out the Christmas designs and take out the toys, jokes and paper hats. Use the toys as small stocking fillers. Paste the jokes onto small pieces of card and add Christmas stickers to make a fun Christmas gift tag.
Cut up the paper hats and use the brightly-colored paper to make other Christmas items. You could, for instance, use them in your Christmas card making activities. One idea is to cut a green paper hat into fairly small rectangles, scrunch up the pieces and stick them within the outline of a Christmas tree drawn on a blank card.
Uncover Unwanted Gifts
If you find any unwanted Christmas gifts from previous years around your home, consider passing them on this year. If you're uncomfortable with doing this, sell them on eBay or at a local sale and use the money raised to buy new gifts.
Hunt for Seasonal Groceries
In the kitchen, go through all your cupboards and take out anything you can use during the festive season, including:
- greaseproof paper/baking parchment
- herbs and spices
- canned food.
Next, seek out all the alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks you have available to use over the festive season. Include wine, beer, spirits, mixers, cordials, sodas and any other drinks that you might have. Put these in a separate storage place.
Write a Christmas List
Once you've sorted everything out and got rid of any unwanted items, you're ready to start writing your Christmas list.
Make a list of everything you don't have and will need to buy for this year’s festive season. Break your list into categories, including:
- Christmas gifts
- Christmas cards
- Christmas wrapping paper, tags, tape and other wrapping essentials
- Christmas tree
- Christmas decorations
It's a good idea to write and save your list on your laptop or smartphone. Next year, you can just update this year's list.
Set a Budget
Set a budget, either for each item, or a total budget for spending on each category on your list.
Start shopping once you've finished your list, but try not to be enticed by the lovely displays in the stores and buy more than is on your list.
Try and keep to your budget when you're shopping and don't get carried away by the Christmas atmosphere!
A good way of keeping to your budget is to do a lot of your Christmas shopping online. That way, you're less likely to make impulse purchases and overspend.
Enjoy a Happy and Affordable Christmas!
Planning ahead for Christmas will help you make the most of the festive season without overspending. Christmas is much more enjoyable if you don't have to worry about paying for it in the New Year.
Do you have any other money-saving ways of planning ahead for Christmas?