Ahead of the Elves: Tips for Finishing Holiday Shopping Early

Ahead of the Elves- Early Christmas ShoppingI know, I know. You’re thinking that it’s September and why in the world is there a post about Christmas? Well, frankly, because if you think about it now, then you can spend December doing crafts, holiday parties, spending time with your family making memories without also stressing about gifts, money, and time.

Whether we like it or not, the countdown is on. It’s 87 days until Christmas! If you’re on a bi-weekly pay day schedule then that is only seven pay days until Christmas…and that is counting all the way up to the week before! 

So, here we go: some of my tried and true tips for wrapping up all my Christmas shopping before December!

1. Make a list of gift recipients and a budget.

I usually do this no later than August, so that the groundwork is done and I can start watching for deals. So, the sooner, the better! I use an Excel spreadsheet to house everything in one place. I break it up into four categories between family and friends, but do whatever works for you. Don’t forget work parties, bosses, random Secret Santas, teachers, and all those other surprise gifts that come up last minute! You can find the spreadsheet I use at the end of this article (free download!).

2. Start putting back money.

An easy way to do this is to buy a gift card each week or each paycheck. Even when you don’t know what to get someone, you have the money reserved in one place, which keeps you on budget. I like to do a lot of shopping on Amazon, so Amazon gift cards are a great purchase for me. If all else fails, then you can just give that gift card as a gift.

3. Shop deals.

You don’t have to wait for Black Friday to get deals. I’ve been Black Friday shopping one time. I hated every second of it and didn’t really get any great deals — it’s just not worth it for me. Besides, I think I would overspend on Black Friday, and my goals include being done by then if I can. My favorite way to watch deals is Facebook shopping groups; two of my favorites are Dixie Does Online Deals and Extreme Christmas Savings. I also watch deals on Amazon and use The Tracktor to see if there will be a lower price between now and December.

4. Make a plan and stick to it.

In my spreadsheet, I have an option called “Wish List” which means I know what I am going to get that person, I just haven’t ordered it yet. Either I’m waiting on a price drop or I’m trying to spread out my expenses. I’ll try to order or purchase at least two gifts off a “Wish List” a week according to whatever is in my budget that week.

5. Shop online.

This one seems pretty obvious, but there are people like my sweet Momma who spend three consecutive days running all over the place and into every store in the Knoxville area to get her Christmas shopping done. When I think about her yearly shopping experience I get seriously stressed out. Wandering aimlessly until I spot something my brother will like is not a productive use of my time. Trying to carve out an entire day or two to shop in stores during the holidays for everything on my list sounds like my worst kind of nightmare. Life is easier when the gift is delivered to my doorstep and most places offer some kind of free shipping these days. I do get some stuff in the store, but definitely recommend making a list of items needed and the stores they are in and sticking to it while you’re out.

I can shop anytime, not waiting for a spare moment in my jam-packed schedule to carve out an entire day or days to shop in store. If you start shopping online now, all your items will be shipped well before Christmas — which is especially great when ordering from places that don’t offer 2-day shipping. You could also consider including an Amazon Prime Delivery membership in your holiday budget at $10.99 a month and cancelling when you have completed your Christmas shopping. Amazon gives me some of the best deals, fast shipping, and boxes to wrap my gifts in.

6. Designate a place for your gifts and wrap as you go.

Last year, I had a couple large totes with lids in the garage where I put all my Christmas gifts as I purchased them. My daughter was too young to notice anything and my husband isn’t a snooper, but the lids are key for those who are. With the totes everything is accounted for and you don’t forget where you hid something. I would bring an entire tote in the house and wrap everything in the box that wasn’t already wrapped, then put it all either back in the box (Santa gifts) or under the tree. 

Before you know it, all the Christmas gifts are purchased, wrapped, and waiting under the tree (or at the North Pole). Then you’re free to spend your December focusing on family time and making memories, and hopefully not feeling like your bank account is empty. 

Don’t forget about our free budget template to help make your holiday shopping easier! You can download the printable version or the Excel version

(For the Excel version, be sure to download the full version from Google Drive to your desktop.) 

Early Christmas Shopping - Free download

What do you do to stay ahead of your holiday shopping? Tell me your tips in the comments! 

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One Response to Ahead of the Elves: Tips for Finishing Holiday Shopping Early

  1. Jennifer Busby September 28, 2017 at 10:44 pm #

    Hi! Great tips! I actually practice some of these! We always make a yearly budget and that usually stays the same (name-wise) and we adjust budget-wise year-over-year. We also usually save a little each month to get to our desired Christmas budget…almost as if we are paying a bill!

    However…I LOVE Black Friday shopping. Although, like you, it’s not for the deals, for me it’s the “tradition” that marks the “start of Christmas” season for me and my mom (even though our trees have been up since Nov 1!).
    Also, I’m more like your mom-I love shopping in the store! I can’t bring myself to online shopping…for any season/reason. I’m weird.
    Anyway, great tips and its never too early to start thinking about Christmas. Well, okay, maybe January.

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