It’s never too early to start planning for Christmas. From gifts to holiday meals, to decorations, parties and more travel there is a lot to fit in to your monthly budget. Getting organised and planning ahead of time will allow you to make the best financial decisions for your holiday spending, and let you enjoy the time stress free without worrying of the consequences on your bank account come January!

Follow these top tips to help plan for your holiday spending;

1. Set a budget (you can afford!)

The temptation to ‘blow the budget’ at Christmas and deal with the consequences in the new year can be high, but planning in advance can allow you to have a comfortable holiday season and still have some spending room in January. It’s a good idea to work out how many people you need to cater for, how many presents you need to buy and think about a budget that is affordable to you. Write a list of everything you need to buy for Christmas and set a budget for each item – it’s the time of year for making a list a checking it twice, after-all!
 
The earlier you can begin planning and saving for Christmas, the better prepared you will be –setting aside just £10 a week from the start of the year will give you over £500 towards your spending! To get an idea of how much you need to save, look back at bank statements and receipts from last year’s spending.
 
It’s best to avoid borrowing for Christmas, as interest charges mean you could head into the New Year with financial difficulties – but if you must, always remember to borrow sensibly.

2. Prioritise your Christmas purchases

If you are struggling to stretch your budget, try and cut down the number of presents you need to buy. Consider who is on your gift list and suggest opting out of gift giving this year.
You may find they are relieved at not being obliged to buy you a gift either! Instead, if possible, suggest meeting up for a coffee or meal to spend time with one another instead, after all – the best present is presence.
 
If you feel that axing the gift giving might be controversial or a step too far, suggest a round of Secret Santa instead where everyone has a set budget to buy one gift for one person.

3. Make use of the sales

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales fall at the end of November and can be a great opportunity to buy big ticket items or branded gifts with a discount, as retailers big and small reduce prices.
 
Before you buy anything, check online to make sure the same item isn’t being sold for a cheaper price (or with a discount code!) elsewhere. Remember to avail of any discount schemes you may be eligible for – 2020 has seen a number of schemes gain popularity such as the “Blue Light Card” for key workers and offers discounts from certain retailers.
 
When shopping the sales, don’t forget to be mindful of your spending triggers! It’s best to plan in advance what items you need to buy during the holiday sales, to ensure you don’t get carried away and buy more than you need, because you think you are getting a deal.

4. Consider homemade gifts

Not all gifts need to be purchased, and sometimes the homemade and handmade gifts mean the most to our loved ones. This year more than ever a homemade gift can show that you have been thinking of someone you maybe haven’t had the chance to see recently.
 
They don’t have to be complicated; consider making an edible gift such as bread or cookies, creating festive wreaths to display or buy some art materials to create personalised homewares such as coasters or jewellery trays. Meaningful and memorable, all in one!
 
While 2020 has hit us all hard, if you are planning on buying gifts for friends and family consider supporting your small and local businesses, which need support this year more than ever. Gift vouchers to use for dinner, hotel stays or beauty treatments will give them something to look forward to in the New Year!
 
It’s never too early or too late to start planning for the holidays, so find some resources below to help.