Which December holiday are you counting down to? You likely know exactly how many days are left til it’s here!

Whether it is Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, you will have extra expenses celebrating the holidays most important to you and your family. However, these expenses don’t have to be sudden or surprising.

That’s right. You can budget now for these celebrations related expenses by making a plan and then setting aside money each month. Here are things to think about now, while we are still three months away!

Gifts

Gifts often top the list when it comes to holiday expenses. This year, start by simply writing out a list of the gifts you plan to purchase. Include family, friends and other important people in your life, such as your hairdresser and babysitter. Do your children need gifts for teachers? What about school-related gift exchanges? What about the parties you attend? Will you be taking the host or hostess a gift? Is there a white elephant gift exchange as well?

Once you have a list of the gifts you will need, consider how much you are willing and able to spend according to your overall budget. Create how much you will send per gift needed or person, and then stick to that budget and list. For example, when you are shopping and having already purchased a budgeted gift for someone on the list, don’t be tempted to buy them just one more perfect gift.

Note: don’t forget about the wrapping paper, gift cards, shipping or other related expenses for such gifts.

Food and Drinks

The food and drinks for any parties you host or attend can add up. Create a budget for any parties you plan to host over the holidays. Plan the menu and allocate money for accessories like a new tablecloth, napkins, or dishes. Don’t forget you can ask your guests to bring along an item as well. Host a potluck where you prepare the main dishes but guests can bring an hors-d’oeuvre or dessert.

If you plan to serve alcoholic beverages, make sure you budget those as well. Any trip to the grocery or liquor store can quickly add up if you don’t have a list and budget in mind.

If you aren’t hosting parties, consider any expenses as the guest. If you’ll be bringing a meal to a potluck, determine those costs. If you’re attending a work party and want to partake of the cash bar, allocate funds for that too.

Clothes and Pics

Don’t forget to include any new clothing and shoe purchases in your holiday budget planning. Do you purchase new dress clothes for yourself and your family for any special parties or religious services? What about any special pajama sets you purchase for the holidays?

Also, include any expenses for photos you will have taken for yourself or for cards to mail to family or friends. Don’t forget this goes beyond the photos to also include any frames or postage.

These are just a beginning of some of the holiday-related expenses you can budget to help you stay on course with your expenses during the holiday season. And with a list and budget in hand now, you can start to make purchases before the rush of the holiday season.