Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year; however, for many people, it’s the most stressful time of the year. Instead of enjoying the Christmas holiday season, many people become stressed, overwhelmed, and even go into debt from spending too much money on gifts. Christmas is only one day out of the year. When you focus on material gifts instead of remembering the reason for the season, Christmas ends up becoming a nightmare. Here are five tips to ensure you don’t overspend this Christmas so that you can enjoy the holidays and bring in the new year happy.

Make a plan and stick to it

When you plan ahead, you set yourself up to win. When it comes to Christmas shopping, you need a plan. You need to make a list of each and every person you have to buy gifts for. Once you have your list, set yourself a budget. Whatever you do, do not go over that budget, and remember, you are not obligated to buy gifts for every single person that you know. Only purchase gifts for those people that are really important to you; those who you normally exchange gifts with. You don’t need to buy a gift for that woman you sometimes talk to at the coffee shop downtown.

Buy items on sale

When it comes to Christmas shopping, it’s important to try to catch as many sales as possible. Start shopping the day after Thanksgiving during the Black Friday sales. When you buy items on sale, you save money that you can use towards other gifts. Also, shop used items at thrift stores. You can find some really great hidden gems at secondhand shops that make for great gifts.

Use cash only

It’s so important when shopping on a budget always to use cash only. Don’t even take your credit/debit cards with you to the stores, and avoid shopping online. This ensures that you stay on budget. Many people overspend when they know they are swiping credit cards. When you use credit/debit cards, even if an item is out of your price range, you will justify wanting to purchase it when you know you can easily swipe your card and then figure it out later. Whereas, if you only have a specific amount of cash, there’s no way you can make unnecessary purchases.

Get creative

Sometimes when you’re on a tight budget and not wanting to go into debt for Christmas gifts, you have to get creative. Get crafty and make your gifts. Get in the kitchen and bake Christmas treats to give out as gifts. If you shop secondhand, you can take items from thrift stores and repurpose them to create something new. You can also regift any unused gifts that you’ve received in the past. Just be sure you’re not regifting something to the person who gifted it to you.

Simply don’t exchange gifts

Lastly, always keep in mind that it is not required to exchange gifts. I guarantee you that those closest to you will understand if it’s not in your budget or if you’re trying to reach certain financial goals. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself if you can’t buy for everyone this year. There’s always next year. Also, remember that the best gift during Christmas or any holiday is the gift of quality time. Spending time with those you love is the best gift you can give to yourself and those closest to you.