Most people plan to shop early for Christmas gifts, but then find themselves doing stressful last-minute shopping that blows their budgets and takes a lot of fun out of the season. Shopping early not only saves you a lot hassle, but it also gives you time to develop an organized plan that can save you money and result in much more thoughtful gifts. Here are a few tips that will help you take the chaos out of Christmas shopping.

Put Together a Comprehensive List

Do you know everyone you need to buy for this year? It’s difficult to have a plan when you don’t even know who you need to buy gifts for. Start with a comprehensive list that includes all friends and family members as well as any work-related giving, and gifts for people like your kids’ teachers or coaches. If your children are younger, you should also include gifts that you will help them buy.

Set a Budget

You should have a budget set for your entire list as a whole and for each individual member on it. When you don’t set a budget, it’s easy to go overboard buying extravagant gifts that catch your eye or buying multiple gifts without realizing how much you spend. Put a dollar limit on each person on your list and keep an eye on fairness—especially if you have multiple children!

Keep an Eye Out for Coupons and Codes

When you shop early, you can keep an eye out for coupons and codes at your favorite stores to save some money. Follow stores on social media and sign up for newsletters or sale announcements. When a coupon does pop up, make sure it fits with your list and budget. The money you save can either be put toward a nicer gift or can go into savings.

Consider Homemade

While many people on your list may want the newest technology or fashion, there are probably plenty who would greatly appreciate a thoughtful homemade gift. If you have artistic talent, consider crafts or paintings. You can also print out nostalgic photos and have them framed or create your own bath and body products. Kids can also get in on the fun and make gifts for grandparents or teachers instead of buying them in a store.

The holidays should be a time of togetherness and joy, not a mad rush to buy the best and biggest gifts. When you shop early and have an organized plan, you can save time and money for what’s really important this season. If you’d like help with your personal financial management, please reach out to one of the knowledgeable CPAs at Preziosi Nicholson. Have a happy (and responsible) shopping season!