It may only be the second week of November, but by now you’re probably getting quite worried about how much December is going to cost you. This year we saw a rapid decline in the strength of the Rand that has unfortunately caused a hike in inflation rates. This means that prices of presents is going to be more, which is why we need to find clever ways to buy gifts this season that won’t break the bank.

Here are our top tips on saving on your holiday shopping.

1)     Buy one family gift rather than individual gifts

Large families can get quite expensive to shop for so why not consider gifts like a game they can all play, a DVD they’ll all watch and enjoy together, or a big tin of their favourite biscuits or sweets. This will help keep costs down.

2)     Consider making an agreement that only the children get gifts

We’re often at a loss for what to buy our adult friends and family members and end up giving them gifts they don’t necessarily need and let’s face it – as adults we don’t have the same need for a gift as kids do.

3)     Set a realistic budget

You’ll do so much better if you work out exactly how much money you have to spend. Include hidden expenses like decorations, wrapping paper, gift tags and table settings. These may be small things but they add up.

4)     Make a list and don’t go shopping without it

Don’t fall victim to compulsive shopping, especially when all the shops are full of temptation. Stick to your list and be happy with what you’re able to afford, and proud of yourself for being able to afford it, no matter how small it may be. If you have any budget left over, you might want to buy a few small gifts for unexpected guests or a last minute invitation.

5)     Be thoughtful about that list

Take the time to think it through properly so that your precious budget is well spent, you feel the joy of giving, and your recipient’s get gifts that they love.

6)     Remember that children don’t need expensive gifts

Kids don’t know how much their gifts cost and get just as much pleasure from plastic as from gold. Some of them end up with so many gifts they can’t possibly appreciate them all, so go for fun things in bright colours that don’t cost the earth.

7)     Do your homework

We all know that sinking feeling when we find something we’ve already bought at a lower price elsewhere. It’s so easy these days to go online and check out various retailers to find the deals and the best price. There are also loads of newspapers and TV ads at this time of the year so make sure to pay attention to them.

8)     If you must use a credit card, have a very clear payback plan

If you don’t set a financial strategy, your gifts are going to cost a lot more in interest. Be smart.

9)     Get on with it!

The sooner you start, the better you’ll do. Rushing through your list at the last minutes guarantees that you’re going to feel guilty and overspend. No one wants to live with buyer’s remorse so give yourself the best chance to make smart choices.

10)  Finally, slow down and enjoy the festive atmosphere

Almost everyone will feel exhausted at the end of a long day at the mall. Take it slow, stop and enjoy the decorations and the treats, stop for a cuppa when you’re tired. And here’s our best tip: if you’re doing a mall marathon, go and put your parcels in the car boot periodically – it’s so much easier to shop when you’re not laden down with lots of bags.

Above all, enjoy the holidays and remember that they’re not about spending money, they’re about spending time with your loved ones. A word to the wise though: don’t end up in the same predicament next year! In January, open a separate savings account that you can deposit money into all year. Even if you save only a little at a time, it will help next December, plus you’ll be earning interest.