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How to Budget Your Christmas Shopping

It’s November, which means the holiday season is approaching fast! I love celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family and friends. I have learned to love giving or making thoughtful gifts for the people around me. However, I’ve noticed that if I don’t plan accordingly and budget my money, I have a difficult time making sure to divide up Christmas gift amounts. For the last two years, I have tried a new approach to make sure I order everything on time and I’m proud of my gifts, and so I want to share these suggestions with you all!

Plan ahead and make a list

My top recommendation is to write down a list of all the people you plan to shop for (yes, that includes even writing down the maybes). With that list, I try to estimate a spending amount that seems reasonable for that person to make sure I get them something special but that is reasonable and not crazy expensive. This is one of the trickiest parts I struggle with, but there is no shame in asking your close friends how much you want to spend on each other.

It’s really fun seeing all your loved ones and friends’ names on the list. I definitely don’t buy for everyone special in my life that deserves to receive a gift, but I try to do my best to get at least a Christmas or a birthday gift for everyone in my support system.

Start buying sooner rather than later

After I figure out the logistics, I then can decide who I need to buy for the soonest. This goes along with deciding what I want to buy or make someone as a gift. I tend to start with people on my list that I’m having a difficult time coming up with ideas for to make sure I give myself enough time to find a great gift. Also, I try to buy smaller purchases with gifts as soon as possible. I find that by utilizing this list, I can make sure I budget properly and don’t end up spending hundreds of dollars all at once. Instead, I spread out the payments. Don’t forget to check shipping dates when ordering online. You don’t want to be that person who finally found the perfect gift but then didn’t have it in time for your holiday gift exchange.

Consider doing a holiday grab bag

Every year my family does a grab bag, where we individually write down a few things we might want to receive. We exchange names out of a hat and then buy for the person we chose. This is a great way to give guidance in hopes to receive something you know you want or need while still having the surprise and fun aspect of who bought it for you and what did they choose to get you. Otherwise, buying for every family member can be expensive. For reference, my family does $50, but feel free to agree to an amount that seems reasonable for you and those surrounding you.

Another great alternative would be to do a Secret Santa exchange! These are great for when there are lots of people involved or if you aren’t comfortable spending a large amount of money on someone you don’t know very well. This could include a group of coworkers or a friend group. Also, this can be interesting if you choose to do a gag gift, which is a funny or embarrassing gift usually under $10. I once received four rainbow mustaches as a gag gift for reference!

Definitely try these recommendations out if you’re looking for a better way to budget your gift shopping. I hope these suggestions will be helpful for you. Wishing you all a great holiday season spending time with and shopping for your friends and family!

Lynn Merigold

Illinois State '23

Hi! My name is Lynn, and I am so grateful to be part of the Her Campus team! I am one of the Editors-in-Chief for Her Campus Illinois State. I enjoy writing articles about lifestyle, mental health, education, and wellness!
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