I know it seems silly to think about next Christmas when this one is barely over. However, if you're striving to control both the clutter and financial aspect of the holiday season, a little pre-planning can go a long way. You can make next Christmas less stressful and more enjoyable by taking a few steps now and throughout the year. They say you should keep Christmas in your heart all year long. Well, if you want a holiday with minimal stress, you should keep Christmas planning on the back burner all year long!
To have an impact on next year's Christmas planning, you should cut Christmas clutter, stock up on holiday necessities and begin a Christmas savings plan. These are all things you can do now that will not only save you money next Christmas, but will save you stress and last-minute frustrations.
Cut Christmas Clutter
If you followed the Decluttering Advent Calendar, then you cleaned out some unused holiday decorations at the beginning of December. It's time to revisit this task. Get rid of broken lights, unused ornaments and old, tattered garland. Christmas lights can be recycled by sending them to the Holiday LEDs program. They'll send you a coupon that you can use towards the purchase of new LED holiday lights. Ornaments and other Christmas decorations in good condition can be sold at a garage sale or sent to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Clean out the stuff you don't need now and store what's left in an organized manner. Next Christmas, you'll be happy to find your favorite holiday decorations ready to display!
Stock Up on Holiday Necessities
While I am not a fan of hitting the post-Christmas sales because I think they promote over-buying and lead to many of us having too much clutter, this is the best time to stock up on holiday necessities. Buy wrapping paper, Christmas cards, gift bags and lights at rock bottom, clearance prices. The key is to buy only what you need. If you went through two rolls of wrapping paper this year, then only buy two rolls of wrapping paper. Don't buy ten rolls, no matter how cheap it is. Just because something is cheap, doesn't mean it's a good deal, especially when it adds to your clutter and creates stress.
Save for Next Christmas
2010 was the first year that I had set aside a bit of money each month for Christmas shopping. By October, I had just about all I needed for gift purchases. It was a huge stress reliever. There are many ways to save money for Christmas. You can open a Christmas Club account at your bank, you can save cash or you can designate a bit of money in your checking account for holiday purchases (simply deduct the chosen amount from your balance each month and keep a tally in a separate ledger). You can also save money in a Paypal account. Since I get paid through Paypal for a few of my writing jobs, I simply left the money there and used it for on-line Christmas shopping. No matter how you decide to save money for holiday shopping, I highly recommend that you do it. Even if you're putting away just $10 a month, you'll still have $120 dollars to spend on Christmas shopping next December. Ideally, you'd figure out what you spent this year, divide the number by 12 and save that much money every month.
To prepare even more for next Christmas, I also recommend that you sign up for Swagbucks, if you haven't already. Through Swagbucks, you earn points for things like web searches, polls and using the swag toolbar. The points can then be used to "buy" things from the Swag Store. With points, you can get gift cards for Amazon or other stores. It takes awhile to accumulate enough points to make purchases, so I'm using it as a long-term savings plan for next year's holiday shopping, in addition to my usual savings.
Get a jump now on next year's holiday preparations. You'll save stress and money by cutting down on Christmas clutter, buying holiday necessities and saving for Christmas shopping. Best of all, you'll thank yourself for creating a more peaceful holiday season!