Make your list and check it twice

With a record setting stock market, and the earliest Thanksgiving the calendar allows, most people have more time and money for their holiday shopping than ever. From Black Friday to Christmas Eve, shoppers will have 31 days to buy presents and holiday décor. That’s a fa-la-la-la-long time to resist temptation and over-spending. For inspiration, we say look to the big guy. Everyone knows Santa makes his list and checks it twice. We think you should too. Armed with a list, you’ll be less tempted to pick up frivolous items, or to hit Amazon’s one-click shopping button a few too many times. As the economy rolls along, and retirement accounts grow plump, it’s tempting to let yuletide generosity fill you up like grandma’s homemade egg nog. Black Friday! Small Business Saturday! Cyber Monday! Giving Tuesday! You can hashtag yourself right into some serious debt. If you haven’t made a holiday list yet, start now. Really. Open a spreadsheet and get going. Or, grab a reliable pen and jot. First, take a realistic look at your budget and set an amount you can afford to spend on the holiday season. Next, list the people for whom you plan to buy gifts. Don’t forget to include hostess gifts and the like. If you think you need a new outfit for the office Christmas party, add that to the spreadsheet. Likewise, those icicle lights you’re adding to the front yard display this year. Set a budget for any holiday parties you plan to host this year, and think twice about all the extra restaurant meals you plan to grab while you run around town. We’re not asking you to Ebenezer your way through the season. We’re all for reciprocal joy. We’re just saying don’t get carried away. Make a plan, stick to it and know that February will feel a lot jollier if you ho-ho-hold back a little on your holiday spending.