Did Christmas overwhelm you? Here’s our year-long Christmas shopping plan for sanity.

Christmas is three weeks deep in my rearview window, but my bank statement is feeling it now. I’m guessing I’m not the only one who puts off shopping until the last minute, then panic-shops and has the financial hit to go with it. This year, I’m determined to bring more sanity to my advent season. And for me, that means starting mid-January.

I know. It’s crazy.

Or is it?

I’ve been working on a shopping budget — not necessarily of my money, but of my time. By spreading my purchasing out all year long, I can capitalize on sales and spread out my spending so that all these purchases are not hitting in one month.

I used the want-need-wear-read method of gift giving, and left December for you to fill in extra that you might want to purchase. I also thought strategically when I made this schedule. For example, by buying your teacher gifts in June you’ll likely get good deals on the overstock of “end of the year” teacher appreciation gifts in stores. By buying your kids’ “wear” items in January, you’ll be able to find winter clothes on deep discount after Christmas. Yay for sales!

Another thing this schedule will free me to do is add some homemade/handmade gifts to the purchased gifts. Rather than fighting the crowds at the mall, I can spend December making cookies and fudge, crocheting pot holders and making photo books — those sweet, meaningful gifts that people will cherish…along with that amazing cashmere scarf I got on clearance in January.

I hope that by following this schedule, you’ll feel less tight with your finances come December and January…and that you’ll have more room for honoring the advent season as well.

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