The sun is shining. The beach is calling. It’s close to a hundred degrees in most parts of the country. Hell, Santa is probably catching some rays at his favorite vacation spot. The last thing you’re thinking about is the upcoming holiday season.
However, with Christmas in July marking the official holiday halfway point of 2016, this is actually the perfect time to do a little preliminary planning for the most wonderful time of the year. You’ll save yourself some of serious headaches and financial stress that always seems to come along with scouring the malls and Amazon during the month of December.
Here are some great tips for getting a jumpstart on your holiday shopping before the first leaf changes color.
Organize your preliminary gift list and budget.
While there will always be those last-minute gifts that pop up, we all have a core group of people that we buy for every year. Make a list of everyone you need to buy for. Consider each person’s hobbies and interests and what you have bought them in the past. Be sure to add a column for how much you are willing to spend on each person. Use the highest amount you think each gift will cost. From there, you’ll be able to get an idea of what your overall shopping budget will be for this year.
Sign up for store rewards programs.
If you plan on hitting certain store to do the bulk of your shopping like Barnes and Noble, Kate Spade or Sephora, consider signing up for any offered rewards programs especially if you shop there frequently throughout the year. You’ll earn points for freebies that can be used as stocking stuffers, and you’ll be discounts and be sent exclusive coupons and given early access to certain sales, like when Kate Spade has its sporadic 75% off secret sales.
Spread your shopping out over the next few months.
Avoid the financial stress the holiday season always seems to bring by spreading out your purchases over the next few months instead of waiting until Black Friday to start. You’ll be able to spend a little bit here and there instead of putting out serious cash all at one time. You make even be able to score some better deals than you’ll find in December depending on what our buying. Designate a specific area, like a closet shelf or under the bed, to store purchases, and use your recipient list to keep track of what you have and what you still need to get.
Start stocking money away.
Can’t bring yourself to start actually buying those holiday gifts before the trick-or-treaters come knocking on your door? Start stocking a little bit of cash away from each paycheck from now until the first of December in a special account specifically for the holiday season. You’ll build up a nice little nest egg that will allow you to shop during the holiday season without feeling the financial pressure on your wallet.
Place your Etsy orders.
If you plan on doing a lot of shopping on Etsy, getting an early start is the best way to go. Depending on what you order or who your order from, you could be facing close to a month between when you place your order and when your order actually ships. You’ll beat the holiday rush and give yourself plenty of leeway for custom orders and items with long lead times.
Start working on your crafty gifts.
Have your heart set on creating handmade gifts for your loved ones this year? Start preparing now. Once you decide on what you want to make, start stocking up on supplies and set up a schedule so you can spread out the work into manageable chunks. Planning on something edible? you the next few months to perfect the recipes you want try, so you can create your masterpiece with ease.