Author: Mrs DDU.
Almost every culture has a gift-giving season, a time to get together with family, exchange presents and maybe enjoy a meal. That time of year for Mr DDU and I is Christmas.
We all know, all too well the rush that the holiday season can bring; the stress, busy crowds, holiday parties and lots of money flying out of your bank account (ah, the magic of Christmas). If you live in Australia (or anywhere else where the school year ends in December) you’ll be hit with even more things piling onto your list – graduations, school plays and potentially juggling the kids as they start their school holidays.
A lot of people dread the holiday period, not only can the expenses be at all year highs but for some people their income dries right up at that time of year. I’m grateful that our income stays consistent over the holiday season but we do still have the Christmas expenses.
It’s no surprise to most people that the holidays comes every year, at the exact same time in fact, except quite a few people are caught completely off-guard and unprepared for how the holiday season will affect their finances.
The best way to combat uncertainty/hard times is to plan for it
Wrapping paper and cards
The very first way we plan for Christmas and save ourselves a lot of money is buying up on wrapping supplies/cards in January. It might seem like an added expense that we could put off until much later in the year but you will be paying a premium leading up to the holidays, and it’s virtually impossible to find Christmas supplies mid-year; they’re either full price leading up to Christmas or slashed prices right after. I always pick up some great priced Christmas supplies in January, you need wrapping paper and cards every single year so why not pick them up at clearance prices?
This is the biggest category for most people during the holiday season; if you nail your present buying you are a saving pro. The first thing we had to do was get organised; to plan for Christmas presents throughout the year you need a way to keep track of your planning (we use notes on our phones) and a designated place in your house for all your pre-purchased Christmas goodies, we have a large basket on a shelf in our wardrobe to neatly contain it all, by November it’s almost overflowing!
Write an idea down straight away. If you’re like me you’ll have your phone next to you 24/7, as soon as you get an idea for a gift, buy a gift or overhear someone mentioning something they want, write it down in your “Christmas present ideas” note. Having a note is such a simple way to organise your thoughts when you’re searching for ideas (past you has already done all the hard work). There are lots of ideas I’ve written down that I’ve never used but at least I always have them up my sleeve.
Train yourself to always visit the clearance section every time you go into a shop, especially at large stores. You’d be surprised at the great presents you can find on clearance at the supermarket (beauty items, pots and pans, giftware) and they are often at low prices because people don’t think to check their grocery store for presents. Browsing the clearance section has also given me many spur-of-the-moment ideas/presents for people that weren’t even on my list to buy. The clearance section at Coles, Best and Less, Kmart and Target have all proven to give me great bargains for presents.
I make sure to get to know the general layout of my local stores and learn where they keep their clearance items because each store has their own quirks and differences in how/where they display clearance and sale stock; in the beauty section in Target they will often have some clearance shelves but you will find clearance clothing/home wears somewhere else, Coles has a section of an aisle dedicated to all their clearance items. Keep in mind the differences in each store and make sure you head there first, even if you’re just popping into Coles to get some milk, make sure to walk past clearance – you never know what you might find.
Consider hitting up the mid-year toy/end of financial year sales. In Australia the big sales tend to happen around July, some of the biggest retailers do their annual toy sales mid-year and if you have kids this would definitely be worth hitting up – they even offer long term lay-buy options if you are making a huge purchase (like a trampoline or gaming console). Also don’t forget about Boxing Day sales! Late December/January is a fantastic time to pay closer attention to the stores; I have been known to pick up a few Christmas presents in January.
Start paying attention to Aldi. You don’t have to do your food shopping there if you really don’t want to (but you should, unless you don’t like saving money), at least take a squiz through their catalogue each week and decide if it’s worth going to pick up a bargain. Aldi have “special buys” every week, which could be anything from home wares to power tools, children’s toys to appliances.. A lot of their “special buys” are exclusively Aldi brands, you’ll not be able to find that exact item anywhere else (and Aldi will only have it until stocks run out/for that week!).
Aldi prices and quality are exceptional; I don’t think I can truly convey to you how good Aldi is. Every single week I’m excited to look through their catalogue to see what “special buys” are in-store – it’s always a fun experience because it’s always different! Buying any household things we need from Aldi “special buys” is also another way we save money on general household goods – if we need tea towels and they have some, I’ll buy a pack (but that has nothing to do with Christmas).
Go through your present list and stash in October/November, around this time of year is when I “take stock” of what we’ve got for people, doing this in October gives me plenty of time to find bargains for those last presents that need extra work. I try to get all of our Christmas shopping done by the end of November, sometimes beginning of December if I’m struggling for those last few gifts. Going through all the presents I’ve purchased during the year and allocating them out sometimes ends up with “extra” gifts for some people (I try to make the presents look even, especially for younger family members who might compare) but that’s ok! If I’ve “over bought” that means I have a great birthday gift or even next year’s Christmas sorted.
Its lots of fun buying things for other people, I really enjoy giving gifts at Christmas time and there’s no reason why you can’t save a bit of cash on your great gifts. I find it’s much less stressful spreading it out over the year and I don’t have to go searching for “that one thing I thought of that one time” because I pick things up as I see them, ready to go. Playing the long game for Christmas always pays off for us.
I thought it was a fitting time for this article – we are exactly 6 months away from that “crazy” pre-Christmas week. It’s never too early to start planning for Christmas, you could start right now and I’d be right there with you.
How do you make the holiday season work for you? are you an early or last minute planner?
Thanks for reading this article about our obsession with Christmas Down Under
Onwards and upwards!