Preparing for Next Christmas

>> Friday, December 26, 2008

I know, the gifts aren't even put away yet and you may even have more Christmas celebrations to attend this weekend but it's time to start thinking ahead to next Christmas. This was my first year to have been completely prepared financially for Christmas. The gift purchasing and preparations were so much more enjoyable since I wasn't worried about the money and whether or not I was going to have enough. Last year the money ran out before all the gifts were purchased so I ended up charging part of the gifts. I was determined to not do that again so I set up an online savings account right after Christmas.

I am already thinking about next Christmas and have come up with two goals. The first is saving the same amount of money as I did this year. The second is for at least 50% of my gifts to be homemade. As I prepared for this Christmas, I came across so many wonderful homemade gift ideas but I didn't have the time to make all of them. I did make a few gifts this year but next year I want more of the gifts to be made by me. This is a bit of an experiment for me. I'm hoping it will cost less to do things this way and after next Christmas I will reevaluate the budget and see if I can reduce it.

So what can you do to prepare for next Christmas?

Evaluate- Think about what worked for you this Christmas and what didn't.
-Did you have enough money for your gifts?
-Did you meet your budget or did you even set a budget?
-Did you feel that you were able to manage your time well or did you feel rushed?
-Were you able to enjoy your time with family and friends or were you too stressed out?

Plan-Think about what you would like for your Christmas to be like.
-What is a realistic budget?
-What can you do to manage your time so that you can enjoy the season and not feel rushed?
-Are there traditions that no longer work for you and your family or are there new ones that you would like to begin?

Prepare-Write down your plan for next Christmas.
-Create a workable budget for your family. Think about what you can realistically save each month and set up a savings account dedicated to Christmas savings. I use an online savings account and just transfer the money once a month from my checking account.
-Go ahead a make out your Christmas list for next year. Throughout the year when you come across a gift idea for someone on your list write the idea down.
-Think about how you can best manage your time to create a peaceful and relaxed holiday next year. Maybe you need to start your Christmas shopping earlier. Consider wrapping the gifts as your bring them home so you don't have to spend a huge chunk of time all at once wrapping gifts. Maybe you want to put up fewer decorations and use the time you would have spent on that doing something else.
-If there are new traditions you would like to begin think about how they will impact your time. Do you need to give up something else that you normally do? What will this tradition add to your family's holiday experience?

A little preparation now will enable you to have a more relaxed and enjoyable holiday season next year.

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