What is Christmas in July anyway? And what are we supposed to do during this made-up occasion, put the tree up? Start our holiday baking?
The Hallmark Channel chose to air Christmas movies, which was the only time I have ever disagreed with anything they ever done. Now don’t get me wrong, watching Christmas movies in December brings me more joy than that moment when my scissors glide effortlessly through a sheet of gift wrap. But like ugly sweaters and advent calendars, Christmas movies just don’t belong in July.
If Christmas in July is a reminder to start our holiday shopping, well, I’m on board for that one. And it’s not because I’m in a hurry for summer to be over. Gift giving should be fun and I prefer to avoid the Black Friday elbow-my-way-through-the-madness approach. Plus, financially, it’s easier to spread it out than to rack up the expenses in November and December.
While we were saving to pay off debt, I learned an easy gift giving budgeting trick, which was particularly helpful around Christmas time. Rather than budgeting a month at a time, we decided to put a little away each month to cover the entire year of gift giving.
The process is simple and requires just a few minutes. For each month, make a list of the recipients and occasions you intend to buy gifts for and assign a dollar amount to each one. Divide the total by 12 and stash that amount each month.
Johnny’s birthday $x
Mom & Dad’s anniversary $x
Sally & Bob’s wedding $x
Total for the year $x
Average per month $x
Easy. Barring any unforeseen snafus, you should roll into the end of the year with your Christmas cash in hand.
Regardless of your budget, planning and saving ahead of time can alleviate the stress that can suck the fun out of gift giving any time of year. So however you chose to celebrate or ignore Christmas in July, I hope no fruitcake was involved and that your eggnog was iced.