This post was written by Marie.
I have always thought that “Christmas in July was a catch phrase made up by department stores to sell things in the slow summer months.
Apparently, according to multiple sources such as The Holiday Spot website, Wikipedia and various responders on Google Answers there really are actual Christmas celebrations in July. People actually get together to throw parties and exchange gifts in July!
I’m not advocating that you add yet another gift giving celebration to your already expensive holiday traditions, but I do want to encourage you to think about Christmas in the month of July.
Save Money and Plan Now for Holiday Spending
1. Think ahead to what entertainment and travel you might do.
Making some decisions now about what you will and won’t do during the holidays will allow you to set up a budget as well as talk to any affected family members or friends (and even business contacts) so that you can set their expectations.
2. Start talking to family/friends/others about gift exchanges – does everyone really need to buy everyone else a gift?
These things seem to get left until the last minute in our family and they continually morph from year to year. Several years ago we all agreed to a ‘No gifts to anyone over 16 years old’ rule, but each year we ended up receiving “just a little something”. The first year maybe it was a plate of cookies, the next year a bit more expensive gift basket of personals – each year becoming more and more expensive. Now we are again at square one – buying gifts for all. Does this happen in your family too?
It takes time to negotiate gift exchange rules, whether that is with family, friends or others (like your hairdresser or mailman). Start now so everyone can plan accordingly.
3. Start talking about the possibility of exchanging gifts with out of town recipients AFTER the actual holiday date – so you can buy their gifts on sale after the holiday.
Some families have developed ongoing gift exchange traditions allowing them to get together for the exchange AFTER the holidays, when the stores have DEEP DISCOUNTS on most merchandise. Set the expectation now with your out of town friends and relatives that your gift WILL arrive after the holidays.
4. Make a list of those for whom you need to buy gifts and decide how much you want to spend on each.
Update the list as you shop from now until the holidays, with what you are giving, how much it costs, and where you are stashing the purchased gift until the holidays.
5. Start shopping for the holidays – paying for gifts as you go.
I have an Aunt that loves to give small gifts to many of her neighbors. It is her way to celebrate the holidays. She also loves to go to garage sales and most of her small gifts are loot from her bargains at the sales. She has a designated closet to store them in until it is time to wrap.
If you buy several gifts each month from now through November, you will save money, but also time (since you can probably pick them up while you are in the store for something else, or get them online) and stress (just think, you will be done way ahead of time!)
Stores often have Christmas in July sales – so if you know what you want to give to someone you can watch the sales, or if you see something on sale that would be a great fit, you can act on the idea when it is on sale.
6. If you garage sale, look for those decorations!
Do you love to decorate your house for the holidays, and always see something new each season that you’d like to have? If so, garage sales are great places to get really inexpensive holiday decorations – typically next to new.
7. In the Giving Mood Now?
Now that you have used July to plan and start executing your 2011 holiday season, you may be in the mood to give – and there will be Christmas in July giving opportunities such as this one in Philadelphia Tis The Season To Celebrate Christmas In July
More Help Is Available
About.com has a great series written by Erin Huffstetler called Christmas In July. In week one she has all kinds of ideas about what you can do now to save money during the holiday season.
What do you do during the summer to plan your end of the year holiday expenses and activities?