The Christmas season has a way of sneaking up on you. Before you know it, there are only a couple of weeks left to purchase gifts, book flights, and ask for time off from work. But what if you took care of all of those things five or six months in advance? The experts say that’s exactly what you should do.
Now’s the Time to Book Your Flight
According to travel expert Phil Sylvester, holiday-time flights tend to be the cheapest when you purchase them around six months out. This is especially true if you’re traveling to another country for the holidays.
There are exceptions to that rule, though. Some flights actually drop in price the closer you get to the departure date, as when there are lots of seats left and the airline needs to sell more tickets. If you’re going to a destination that isn’t very popular over Christmas, you could take a chance and wait until early December. However, if you’re heading to a crowded destination, sooner is better. If nothing else, buying in advance gives you peace of mind that you already have your ticket.
Get Your Shopping Done
Is there anything more stressful than spending Christmas Eve at the mall, looking for the perfect gift for everyone on your list? You end up standing in long lines and spending too much for gifts that nobody wants. Why not enjoy the holiday season this year by getting your shopping done in advance – like now?
The key, if possible, is to buy similar items for multiple people on your list. This cuts your shopping time down dramatically and makes it easier to save money. Gift baskets, like those from Hampers with Bite, are a really easy and affordable idea.
If you’re looking for something else but still prefer to do your shopping online, Amazon always has good deals in July and August – even if you’ve missed Prime Day.
“Other major retailers have yet to announce any promotional plans to counter Amazon’s push to grab an early share of holiday shopping,” says Mark Huffman of ConsumerAffairs. “In the past, Walmart has countered with sales of its own. Earlier this year [Walmart] also rolled out free two-day shipping on more than two million items with no membership fee.”
A piece of advice for next year: Start shopping for the next Christmas the day after Christmas. It might sound crazy to start shopping on December 26, 2017 for Christmas 2018, but you can find some pretty awesome deals – especially at places like Walmart, which frequently feature 50 to 80 percent post-Christmas markdowns.
Go Ahead and Ask For Time Off
One of the biggest challenges for many people is getting enough time off from work to visit family or take a vacation over Christmas. The problem is usually tied to when people ask. You can’t go to your boss on December 23 and ask for five days off. Experts encourage asking as early as possible and bringing it up regularly.
“The earlier you raise the topic, the better, and although being the first one to ask for time off doesn’t necessarily guarantee that your request will be granted, it does give you more leeway with your negotiation,” career expert Alison Doyle says.
Depending on how your employer treats holidays, this year could be particularly convenient in terms of taking time off. If you get Christmas Day and the day after Christmas off already, you could technically take just three vacation days and get 10 off (when you account for weekends and New Year’s).
Even though it’s summer, asking for time off now – or at least planting a bug in your boss’ ear – will give you a lot more leverage when everyone starts putting in requests at the beginning of December.
Start Early – Don’t Stress
It’s sad how commercialized the Christmas season has become. Most people feel the pressure to buy the perfect gifts for everyone and adjust their schedules to accommodate others. But here’s the thing: Christmas doesn’t have to be a whirlwind.
The key is to start your preparations far in advance. It’s never too early to get some of your responsibilities out of the way. By dealing with them in July or August, as opposed to the second week of December, you can save time, money, and energy. As a result, you’ll enter the holiday season feeling relaxed and grateful.