If you've spend any time in a retail store lately, you know that even though fall hasn't officially kicked off yet, there are already Christmas decorations up in many stores.
And while those decorations are going up, so is our stress level. These vivid reminders only make us more anxious as we realize that the holidays are just around the corner, and we've got a ton of gifts to buy.
But why not play it smart this year? Instead of waiting until the last minute, and scrambling to find a gift, any gift, for the last person on your list, start now. You can avoid much of the holiday stress by planning ahead. Here's how.
First, make a list of all those you want to get gifts for, keeping your budget in mind. Make sure you factor in holiday travel and host gifts for those holiday parties. If you have no idea where to begin, think about what you spent last year. This can be a great starting point.
Make sure that you include everyone on your gift list – that includes family, friends, the babysitter, your hair stylist, the mailman, your kid's teacher, the boss, and anyone else you'd like to spread a little holiday spirit to. Figure out how much you can spend on each person, and include gift wrap and shipping.
Now you are ready to get out there and shop. Watch the sales papers, research online, and take advantage of holiday sales. The stores want you to shop and they're hacking prices left and right – take full advantage of this.
You may also want to consider homemade gifts for some of the folks on your list. You can make homemade hot chocolate mix, soup or cookie mixes, or even give them a handcrafted item you've created. But again, the key is getting started now.
Work at checking items off your list until you are done – and with any luck, you'll be done before you have to hang the tinsel in your own home. And you can sit back, relax, and truly enjoy the holidays.