The holidays … they’ll be here before you know it.

Have you even started to think about December yet?  Our summer weather may be lingering, but if you start your holiday planning now, you could save a lot of money. Here’s how:

Make a list: Just like your regular budget, create a list of who you want to buy gifts for, write it down and put a $ value beside it. Add it up. Now add the cost of cards, hostess gifts, special food items and decorations. You have your complete holiday budget.  Once you’ve written it all down, you might want to check it twice and decide to pare down just a little.

Stockpile:  Always keep your eyes open for the sales. Now is the time to pick up hostess gifts or little gifts that relate to summer for friends that are cottagers or snow birds.

Dollar stores and other discount places:  If you are planning a casual holiday party, check out the local dollar store for items like plastic wine glasses, paper plates, napkins and decorations.  And if you want to have a green holiday party, call the rental companies and rent glasses, china and silverware.  Unpack, set the table, pack it up again and take it back.  No cleanup required and a touch of elegance. (I love to do this.)

Make your own gifts: Now is the time to start working on that special quilt or scarf for someone.  I’m a quilter and I’ve decided that most of the people I buy for are getting some kind of quilted item for Christmas.  Like most quilters, I already have enough fabric in my ‘fabric stash’ so I can get to work right away.

Share something sentimental: Perhaps you have an heirloom that doesn’t appeal to you but would be appreciated by another family member.  Wrap it up with the story of the heirloom.  Or pass books or music on.  My son has loads of books that he’s read many times and we are passing them on to my cousin’s children. You could do the same thing with toys or a piece of jewellery.

Save time: If you already have your wrapping paper and cards, start wrapping presents now (don’t forget to put the tag on, you don’t want to forget who the gift is for) and take some time to address your cards before the rush happens.  If you like to write a family newsletter, start it now and add last minute news just before you print and send.

Remember the vulnerable people at this time of year: What do you get the person who has everything? How about a goat?  For $100 you can buy a dairy goat for a family overseas that can yield up to 250 litres of protein-rich milk that gives nutrition to hungry children—and income to their parents.

Canada’s Money Coach, always sharing ideas to help you smartly and safely manage your finances. Get in touch today, give me a call at 613-875-5834.