Whether you’re jumping for joy at the approaching holidays or are dreading the whole shebang, planning and shopping a bit early can take the stress out of this festive event and save you money. Read on for tips on how to get going, and pitfalls to avoid.

Make a plan!

The holidays are a season of generosity, but it’s important to consider what’s sustainable for you in terms of your budget. You don’t want to start the new year over-extended. So, think carefully about who’s on your list, and how much you can afford to spend on each person. Then, it’s time to come up with gift ideas. Then set up shopping lists in Flipp with your options so you can scan the circulars for the best deals on everything and save some money!

The other advantage is getting started early means you’ll be shopping at your leisure, and therefore will be more apt to find that perfect present, and won’t be stressed about getting everything done all at once.

There is one drawback to starting early: the risk of overspending. Just remember, a deal isn’t a true deal if it means you spend beyond your means.

The big picture

We may immediately jump to gift-giving as the big expense at this time of year, but don’t forget to keep in mind other items you may spend money on, too, such as holiday décor, holiday outfits and gift wrap. Again, creating lists in Flipp will help you save money, as you can grab everything you need as it goes on sale. We all love holiday feasts and goodies, but they can be costly, so if you're hosting a party or baking treats, watch circulars so you can save on shelf-stable or freezable staples and avoid blowing your budget on these items.

Maker magic

If you're the crafty type, keep an eye on circulars for deals on supplies. Thinking through your list early will give you time to make some — or all! — of your gifts.

One idea is to create a printed photo book or calendar; it’s an especially good choice for grandparents.

Don’t fall in the black hole

Black Friday, which falls on November 23 this year, is an opportunity to get deals, but make sure to have your shopping list sorted beforehand, and do your research on the regular cost of the gifts you want to buy, so you aren't tempted to jump on something that may not be a money-saver.

Creative thinking

Consider alternatives to buying everything you need. Getting ready early means you’ll have time to host an item swap with friends; what’s clutter to you might be the perfect gift for someone else. So, make a few snacks, crank up the holiday tunes and get thrifty with your pals!

Another option is planning an experience gift. Being on the ball allows you to be ready if say, tickets go on sale for a concert by your partner’s favorite band.