My family tends to go way overboard at Christmas time. I'm not sure if I should admit this, but our Christmas presents take up a over half the floor space in our living room on Christmas morning. While they are still wrapped and stacked. We only have one child, and yes, all the presents on Christmas morning are his, my husband's mine, or the three little (furry) girls' who live here. My living room is small, but still...
I really don't normally feel guilty about buying so much stuff at Christmas, but sometimes I feel like I should explain anyway, because I am sure there are people judging us. Yes, we have debt. Yes, we go overboard on Christmas. But no, we don't go into debt over Christmas. Yes, it looks like there are thousands of dollars worth of presents for each of us on Christmas morning. But I don't pay retail for much, and I save all year long, so I'm really ok with that. I know that we COULD apply the money we save for Christmas toward debt, but honestly I don't want to, and neither does my husband. We're ok with the fact that we are consistently making headway on our debt progress, and while we do like to add to it when we can, we don't want to give up Christmas the way we like it.
The way we save for Christmas is pretty simple. We have an online savings account just for Christmas and birthdays where a set amount of my husband's check automatically goes. I also put in about 25% of any cash I make online doing various things. As soon as the money hits my bank account, I transfer a portion. And I take another 25% out in cash for Christmas as well (the other 50% does go toward our debt). Any giftcards I make online are used for Christmas and/or birthdays. If I get a giftcard and spend it on something that isn't a gift, we pay the face value into our savings account. This way of saving means that we don't have to spend very much of our regular income each month on Christmas, but still have plenty of money to shop the sales.
The 25% of the cash that I take out, along with any gift cards I have, are used to find deals all year long and buy them when they are at a great price. Even if I don't have enough cash for a really good deal, I will often go ahead and get it, and then just transfer the money back out of my Christmas account to cover it. This way I'm able to take advantage of the huge book clearance sale in January at Barnes and Noble, the twice yearly toy sale at Target (when stuff is 50-90% off), and the sales at KMart where there's an additional 50% off clearance toy prices, and any other great deals I find throughout the year.
I love saving and shopping this way, because it takes so much stress out of November and December. We do get a large portion of our shopping done early for our son, but it seems that my husband and I usually wait until black Friday to buy most of our presents for each other. We also have to wait until late November to choose our children from the Angel tree as well. So that would be a lot of money to have to come up with all at once if we didn't save all year long.
So yes, on Christmas morning it will look like a toy/book/movie factory exploded in my living room. Yes, I realize that my son is probably a little too spoiled. But my credit card bill will be lower than it was in November, and other children we've never met will have presents to open on Christmas morning because we saved all year.