BOSTON (CBS) – I was not happy to see Christmas decorations go up in October. And then the Christmas music started and I discovered Santa has already arrived at the Burlington Mall. The merchants are pushing hard and early to get us in a buying mood.

According to a Gallup poll in October consumers plan to spend an average of $712 on gifts this year. Almost what they spent last year. That does not include the tree, decorations, cards, stamps, new clothes or extra holiday food they’ll also buy.

According to another survey by the National Retail Federation, many consumers start their Christmas shopping before Halloween. And some are actually done before Thanksgiving. Many families have Thanksgiving together and exchange presents then.

Most of us have HPS,  Holiday Perfectionist Syndrome, we all want the perfect holiday, like the ones we see on TV with beautiful people dressed impeccably (no one in sweats), a lovely tree laden with perfect ornaments, (no macaroni glued to a paper plate for them)  perfectly wrapped presents, a festive table laden with wonderful foods and everyone happy! You know that Martha Stewart look!

What is in your holiday budget? It’s more than just the presents we buy. Be realistic here!

Create a spending plan and include all of the holiday costs here. Cards, stamps, invitations, parties, special foods, drinks, decorations, new outfits for the kids, a tree, babysitting, house gifts, hair salon, new clothes for the grownups and of course the presents you plan to buy for everyone!

What can you afford without going into debt this year? Did you set up a Christmas club last January? The average consumer is still paying off Christmas in July! And 11% of consumers still have not paid off last year’s Christmas gifts.

What and who can you delete from your Christmas list? Do you need to send Christmas cards to everyone you know? How about just those that live far away. Or just your grandparents and the rest get an e-mail

Make your parties potluck. Easier on you and the budget. Invitations can be sent thru Evite.

And when we are out Christmas shopping we also treat ourselves. To the tune of an additional $18 billion on non-gift purchases. Lots of reasons for that. We see something we’d like or the sales are too good to pass up. On average, we spend $108 on ourselves while out Christmas shopping.

Comments (7)
  1. emom says:

    CHRISTMAS.. Send e-cards to those I love, made goodies to eat, make gifts..
    Pay as little for things as possible . I buy from the end of the season the year before things I know I could give as gifts and that are on clearance. They are great gifts and I didn’t have to spend a huge fortune, Save as much as I can and If they are not happy with what I can give them well then Next year they will get nothing. So far I have done this for over 5 years and everyone has loved what they have received. Why spend full retail for anything when all you need to do is wait till the end of the season and find the best gifts to give.
    As far as giving verses receiving, Yes its nice ti give to folks, But in this day of economic woes, I can not afford to just give to folks just because. I am not being selfish, just practical, since most can not afford to give like that.
    Maybe I will make a few extra baked goods and give those as a gift. It is the thought that counts, But I do have a few in the family that look at their gifts as a monetary value, instead of the thought behind it If they only knew it didn’t cost me as much as they thought..

  2. Willowwwwwww says:

    Emom, it is the gift that counts, and the fact that you think of someone. I too begin Christmas preparations well in advance. I sew, knit, and crochet, so many of my gifts are a labor of love. With 5 grandchildren, three of them girls, and twin girls due to arrive soon, I began making doll clothes for all of their dollies. I’ve made them pajamas every year as well with matching slippers. Baked goods are another wonderful idea. If most understood the true meaning of Christmas, they would be happy with the fact they were thought of, and not what was paid for the gift. How about making out a personal gift certificate of your time to do something for an elderly parent, friend or neighbor. My MIL doesn’t need anything, but can’t do a lot of her spring housecleaning. This year she will get a certificate from me to do just that. Remember to follow through on such a gift idea. People mostly want your time, so make it readily available if possible. The holidays are only about money if we allow it to be.

  3. emom says:

    I hear what you say and well that’s how I feel . Most of the time. But when there are a few in the family that look at the gifts you give, I mean a gift card to a favorite store, a book they like, a collectible hand made, I mean a bear with hand made clothes in a specific outfit,, Like something they collect. they open the gifts and I wait to see their expression. Oh, this is nice… really not a smile a thank you, no emotional expression of any kind. At least fake it , I mean its not as if it cost tons to do it was a labor of love and some careful bargain hunting to find the just right idea or gift. The bear looked like it was bought in a boutique, but cost less than they think.. I was proud of that. the book was one they like but was on a bargain table. the gift card was a store they frequent but was looked at as if it was not enough..
    Yet they feel the need to give gifts that have no personality , I mean how many times does one need to give bath products, or something that does not fit and because they can not find the receipts you cant return because they will give you a far reduced price. or what in the hell can you do with a calender that well I have no use for since I already have one.
    I know its all about giving which is what I try to do. BUT there is a level of giving on the others part that becomes cheapened because they don’t care. Making what I do seem unimportant. BUT I do have many I give to that truly ask for what I do again and again and love every bit of what I do. because it is from the heart, this year not sure what those that did not appreciate what they received last year are going to get, maybe some plastic coal, since I believe giving real coal is usually for heat and well sorry ungrateful folks do not even deserve that. Even if they are family.

    1. Willow says:

      Emom, since I have a hard time to please some folks, I plan on buying holiday money cards, and doing just that, putting money in them, no matter how little. Then they can buy whatever they like. The problem today is that most folks buy what they want, when they want, and don’t really want for anything. That’s what makes it hard, to buy for the person who really doesn’t need anything. I think a baked good or gift cards meet most expectations. We’ll have to compare notes after Christmas. I know one thing, I’ll have some very excited and happy little grand daughters this year, and that’s what it’s all about. That’s my gift from them.

      1. emom says:

        That would be awesome , HOWEVER the few I buy for well I have done just that and I get the same look and atitude each time. One out of that family truely loves what I have bought him. But his parents and sybliings are ungrateful no matter what you give them. It shows every year, Its like why bother, I stay humble but end up with that store bought fruitcake from 10 years ago,, I have had to tell my kid dont worry its the though But well at 14 my kid knows better. I wouldnt mind if they gave the effort of a thank you , I am not a well of person but do my best , and since its the in laws its even harder,. I am grateful one is always pleased with the gift I give him. As I am with what he gives me,
        As for gift cards, I have learned that giving them gift cards is much the same, they do not appriciate them because its a bother. and the one time I gave cash wow,, that was the worst , it was like what didnt bother buying anything, there is just no pleaseing this family only one can be pleased and Well I and grateful, he is nothing like them.
        But I deo have others I do give to and they always enjoy and love what I give them no matter the cost or what it is,, I guess there are some in this world that are just ungratefull no matter how nice the gift.
        I think I will put forth My gratitude to some that do not have much again I may not have much But I know of a few that do look forward to it.

  4. Denise says:

    that’s right.. planning ahead – I just bought my next years Halloween decorations at 90% off! I buy sweatshirts and seasonal things at the end of the seasons for planning ahead for Bdays and gift giving holidays. I clip coupons, shop sale and clearance racks – just because it’s discounted doesn’t mean it’s cheap! I something doesn’t fit or someone doesn’t like something – I just dip into my “gift tubs” and give them something else. Staples is also a good place to stock up on camera cards, USB sticks etc for those that are techno savy!

  5. response says:

    I never send ecards as I find them impersonal. The elderly don’t like them.

    for those that are hard to buy for or ungrateful with anything you purchase for them….
    Make a donation in their name to their local food bank or local charity.
    They will get a nice thank-you from them.

    as for the budget…I think most people set up a spending plan. The real trick is sticking to it.

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