Prepare and Plan Christmas 2010

by Kevin on November 15, 2010

Christmas is in 40 days and I bet some of you can’t even believe it. It seems it was only yesterday we were taking down wreaths and finding a place to drop off our Christmas tree for mulching.

But Halloween is gone, Thanksgiving is well on its way, and the retailers have been gearing up for weeks to get your attention.

Do you know what your Christmas is going to look like? Have you planned for it?

We’re not talking just the stuff of Christmas… but financially as well. Are you financially ready to support the Christmas vision bouncing around in your head? Does everyone have to have 10 presents under the tree? Do you have to go all out and make your house shine like it belongs in Christmas Vacation?

Avoid Christmas Debt

There’s nothing like sitting around on Christmas morning looking at the torn up gift wrap, the ripped open plastic, and all the toys being played with for 5 minutes then forgotten.

It makes it a lot worse when you realize you’re in over your head in debt to achieve this “amazing” Christmas.

Every year Americans spend more than they can afford on things they don’t really need. In January when the credit card bill comes in January we feel regret, but by the time next Christmas rolls around we’ve forgotten that feeling and repeat the cycle.

Review Last Year’s Christmas

To avoid overspending like you did last year take time to sit down and review last Christmas.

Sit down with the family and ask them if they even remember what they got last year. If it was something major like a brand new LCD television then they’ll probably remember.

But those other gifts? The things you stressed over, dealt with mall parking over, and researched the best price on? Probably forgotten. They might still use the item, but they won’t remember where it came from.

It hammers home the point that going in to debt for a big holiday season is pretty pointless… because you probably won’t remember most of it the next year.

Save Money and Enjoy Christmas More at the Same Time

Here’s a couple of ideas to help you avoid going into credit card debt for Christmas.

Instead of going all out on stuff why not go all out on experiences? It has been shown time and time again that the positive feeling with buying stuff doesn’t last as long as money spent on experiences.

Buying gifts for family you only see once per year is a daunting task. You end up having to call your Aunt to see what your cousin likes so you can buy them a gift pretending as if you knew them really well. Absurd. Instead why not have a family secret santa? Put everyone’s name in the hat and take turns picking. You only buy that person one gift. Take the money that everyone saves on the gifts you didn’t buy and have a nice family dinner, go rent a cabin, or give it to a homeless shelter. Use the extra cash to save money or get a memorable experience.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dani November 15, 2010 at 8:58 am

I started the Secret Santa tradition with my family and my in-laws last year, it went over very well, I think everyone was very happy with their gifts and it really cut down on the spending. Of course a few people still went overboard, but that’s okay.

We all agreed that anyone over 18 goes into the Secret Santa gift swap and the children get to still be spoiled. Immediate families still do whatever they want, our exchange was just for the extended families. (For example, my husband and I will still do something for each other.)

Great ideas!

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Kevin November 15, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Thanks! Secret Santa should drastically cut on the amount of spending for the entire family.

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Budgeting in the Fun Stuff November 16, 2010 at 12:35 pm

My in-laws do a Secret Santa and my side of the family limits gift-giving to immediate family only. Our budget is usually set to no more than $25 a person, so that’s about $200. My husband and I exchange either experiences or gifts and usually keep that to under another $200 total. Finally, we both participate in Secret Santas with different groups of friends, so that’s another $100 or so. We’re lucky that we usually have about $500 leftover at the end of every month anyway, so the gifts are folded in to our regular budget. :-)

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John November 16, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Another fun idea that we use is to buy a “mystery gift” ($5-10.00 limit). We draw cards to see who picks first and opens their gift; the 2nd person can then either take a “mystery gift” or the one the 1st person opened. The 3rd and subsequent people can take a mystery gift or ANY of the previously opened gifts. When they are all opened, we then roll 2 dice = a pair lets you take someone else’s gift that you want, but someone else can then also take yours if they roll a pair. We usually use two sets of dice to keep it rolling and the trading/stealing moving quickly. We use the “excess money” that we would have spent for food shelf, etc., and it helps keep the accumulated stuff (junque?) to a minimum; we all have too much already.

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Kevin November 26, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Yea we call that Dirty Santa here… good, fun, cheap game to play at Christmas parties.

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