Post image for 12 Weeks Until Christmas:  Prepare Your Holiday Budget Now

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You’re about to hit the floor — as of today, there’s 12 weeks until Christmas. Yes, 12 weeks until December 25. That seems awfully soon, in some ways, but in other ways, you might be wondering why I’m bringing the holiday up. 12 weeks is still a bit of time off, and there’s plenty of other holidays and events beforehand.

I love the holiday season, but like most people, it is a crazily busy time for our family. It’s easy to get frustrated that this time of year we often cherish exhausts us before December 25 even rolls around.

Traditions, a hectic lifestyle, and conflicting schedules can steamroll a family’s good intentions to have a simple holiday season. In order to savor the festive season without wishing for its end, you need to plan.

When you take care of the little details in advance, the overall holiday season is much more enjoyable.

12weekschristmasLike last year, Simple Mom will run a weekly series on Fridays called 12 Weeks to a Peaceful Christmas. 12 weeks, 12 small weekly projects that should only take a few hours, planning a wee bit for the holidays.

When December hits, as your family schedule runneth over, most of the details are done, leaving you to revel in the season.

12 Weeks to a Peaceful Christmas

  • 12: Solidify the Christmas budget
  • 11: Organize your mailing addresses for Christmas cards, and explore alternative ideas
  • 10: Start (or finish!) gift shopping
  • 9: Research ways to donate gifts or time as a family
  • 8: Inventory your holiday decor and list the items to look for on sale
  • 7: Finalize the holiday calendar and schedule dates and events
  • 6: Prepare a a new family tradition, such as a Jesse Tree
  • 5: Design, buy, or order your Christmas cards and stamps, and address envelopes
  • 4: Decorate for Christmas
  • 3: Make meal plans; batch cook and freeze meals for the next few weeks
  • 2: Make and freeze cookie dough, and prepare any food gifts
  • 1: Clean the home, prepare for guests, or prepare to be a guest

Week 12: Solidify the Christmas Budget

If you haven’t started saving yet for Christmas, it might be a bit challenging.  But it can definitely be done — you don’t need to rely on credit to have a good season.

When you save a little each month all year, the Christmas season becomes something worth anticipating.  As Dave Ramsey says, Christmas is not an emergency – it falls on December 25 every year, so you know it’s coming.

Every family has unique circumstances and spending needs, but I obviously advocate keeping Christmas simple. You don’t need to spend much to have a great holiday.

This weekend, plan what you think your Christmas will cost. I created a simple worksheet to percolate your brain about all your line items. Click here to download it, or you can head to the downloads page and find it there.

You definitely don’t need to budget for each of items — our family has budgeted for about half of this. But these little things can easily add up, and if you don’t plan for them, they’ll knock on your wreath-adorned door when you least expect.

Total your line items, and divide by the months left until December (right now, that would be three). That’s the amount you need to save starting this month to meet your Christmas budget.

christmas ornaments
Photo by Jeff Belmonte

If That Number is Scary

• If you haven’t yet saved for Christmas, that number may seem hefty. Decide now that for 2010, you’ll start saving in January, so that divided over 12 months, it’ll feel like nothing.

• Don’t rely on any sort of credit card. Christmas is absolutely not worth spending money that isn’t yours.

• Choose to embrace a season of simplicity, and decrease your budget. Go for handmade decor, and severely limit your gift giving. It’s more enjoyable anyway, even if you had money to spare. We’ll share ways to simplify gift giving and decor in the coming weeks.

• If your income is cut short, plan on a seasonal holiday job. This provides great additional income with no commitment after the Christmas season. For years, I’ve worked as a gift wrapper at Williams-Sonoma, and it’s a blast. Many stores start stocking up their seasonal help now, so don’t wait to look for a position. Apply for one this weekend.

Have you thought about Christmas yet? How do you budget for the season? Have you ever gotten a holiday job?

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