Holidays are quickly approaching. Are you dreaming of decorations and a holiday dinner around the family table, or are you feeling anxious as you try to figure out where you’ll find funds for all of the holiday activities, potlucks and gift-giving?

Whether you’re worried “Santa” is not bringing enough gifts for your children, or maybe how you can afford to give gifts to everyone from Fido to Great-Aunt Suzi, gift-giving can turn from something pleasant to something you dread during the holiday season. To keep your spirits running high, here are some tips to help stretch your dollar and your sanity.

Shop Year Round

First off, start early. Don’t wait for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or last minute Christmas sales, because you’ll be fighting crowds for just a few items. And the price and item might not even be your top choice if it was any other time of the year. Try shopping year round for items that you know won’t need to be exchanged or returned, because then you have time to shop at your leisure and can take advantage of sales year-round.

Limit Gift-Giving

It’s time to limit the gift-giving. It’s just not realistic for everyone in the family to be able to give a pricey gift to everyone. If you are giving gifts to family pets, they really have NO CLUE. If you are giving gifts to your siblings and their children, suggest exchanging gifts for the children only. And you can always suggest a Secret Santa for this year, which might help other family members breath easier, too.

Budget

Set a price limit on how much you spend per person on your gift list, so you can budget accordingly. If you figure you’ll spend $25 per person and find the perfect gift for $15, that will also give you an extra $10 to spend spend on another person if the perfect gift for them is over $25, or $10 for a person not originally on your list or even an extra $10 to add to your food budget for the upcoming holiday dinners.

Gift Cards

This is an extension of the budget idea. But giving gift cards easily keeps you on your budget. If you say you are going to spend $25 on your brother-in-law, you can keep on that budget by purchasing a gift card for that exact amount. You can now pick up gift cards from many different retailers in one spot, like a local grocery store, so you don’t have to do multiple stops if you wanted to get a gift card for multiple stores or restaurants. Or you can also purchase an American Express, Visa or Mastercard gift card. That way they can purchase accessories for the other gifts they received from other friends and family members.

Shopping For Your Children

If you are stressed about “Santa” not delivering enough gifts for the children, just remember that they get easily overwhelmed and tired when opening one gift after another. Especially if they opened a toy they really want to play with, but you are making them unwrap other packages instead. So pick a few perfect gifts for your child and remember it’s the magic of Christmas, not the amount of gifts, that they will remember.

The Reason For the Season

Many people celebrate the holidays with a focus on family and goodwill to all. Whatever you celebrate, remember it. If you are feeling overwhelmed, remember that on Christmas day you’ll have the magic of seeing children open gifts, be able to engage in good conversation with friends, enjoy some delicious home-made food, give and get lots of hugs and kisses and enjoy one of the merriest times of the year.

If you have more tips to keeping your sanity around Holiday Gift-Giving, I’d love to hear them.