I love gifting. I have written about this before - I genuinely enjoy curating a gift for somebody. We give gifts to quite a few people, totally by choice, and it is a pleasure. So why do I shop so early and how does this help reduce costs? Read on!
Lowering the holiday spending...
1. When you are in a rush, you typically spend more than you meant to.
This is the same thing as going to the grocery store in a panic or on an empty stomach. If you are rushing around the week before Christmas, fighting the crowds with your To Do list a mile long, it is highly likely that you are going to overspend and buy more than what you need. When you start early there is zero rush, and you can enjoy the process.
2. Starting early allows you to plan ahead for any homemade gifts you want to prepare.
I am a big fan of DIY gifts - and these are often things that need to be planned in advance. (For some previous DIY gift ideas I have featured on the blog click here and here.) There may be specific items you need to create your masterpieces, and starting early allows you to watch the sales and get the best price. You may want to freeze fresh strawberries now to make beautiful preserves for Christmas. You may have a furniture project (please note if you are giving a large piece of restored furniture I strongly recommend giving the recipient a head's up....), you may be wanting to dry herbs from your harden. Whatever the case may be - planning ahead allows you to not be rushed. Make a list of items you will need for your DIY projects and start gathering them when you can get them for the best prices.
3. End of season inventory clearance means excellent prices on winter or previous years' goods (especially March-June).
This is one of my favourite things about shopping early. Many seasonal items are on steep, very steep reductions at this time of year (March-June) as stores try to clear out their inventory from last year and make way for the new items. Recently, I was able to purchase toys reduced by 75%. I have been able to purchase winter pyjamas up to 80% off. Check online and in stores, but there are always excellent deals to be had on previous season merchandise.
4. You can keep an eye out for deals on specific items and watch the sales.
Once you have an idea of what items you may need to purchase, you will be able to carefully monitor fliers, e-mail flyers, and websites for deals on these specific items. You will not be in a rush to purchase them, and it is highly likely if you start this early in the year you will find what you are looking for on sale before the holidays start.
5. Allows your to accumulate points and rebates for use on last minute purchases.
As I pick up various items throughout the year, I try to maximize and points earned through redemption programs and cashback through E-bates. A great option is to save up these redemption points and use them if you need to purchase any last minute items before the holidays. Personally, I like to redeem my points for household and grocery items during the holidays. It allows for some wiggle room at a time of year when money might be tight, or when unexpected expenses are popping up.
6. Back to School Sales on Craft Items
One thing that I love to do for the many kids on our list is
But how do I stay organized?
Well, this is great you might say, but how am I supposed to stay organized if I am shopping 6 months in advance? Being organized is key, otherwise you will forget what you purchased and probably buy things you do not need after forgetting you have little Joey's Christmas gift safely tucked away in the back corner of your closet. Here is how I stay organized:
1. Gift Journal
I have a gift journal at home where I record every gift I have for each person. It allows me to remember what I gave someone from year to year, and also to know what I have on hand to give them for future holidays. It is just in a simple notebook. Keep it simple. In addition to this I have......(see below)
2. Handbag List! (or on your phone!)
Once I have started gathering gifts, I keep a running list in my purse at all times of things I still need to pick up and who they are for. I might see a great deal on something one day - I check my list - if it is on the list...perfect!...I will pick it up. If it is not on the list........it does not get purchased. This eliminates needless and wasteful spending.
The best reason to shop ahead:
Lowering your stress level!
Yes, shopping ahead and being organized will help you lower your expenses, but what could be better than lowering your stress level at the holidays? While other people are running around like crazy, ringing up the credit card bills and making silly purchases that are not needed.....you can enjoy time at home sipping hot cocoa and watching White Christmas while wrapping your thoughtfully selected and carefully purchased Christmas gifts. That is something to look forward to.