CHRISTMAS FACTS Every year more than 400 million people celebrate Xmas around the world—that makes Xmas one of the world's biggest religious and commercial festivities. In approximately year 300 AD, the birthday of Jesus was determined to be on December 25, the day that has been celebrated from then till this very day. The celebration on the 25th of December starts with Christmas Eve, the evening of December 24. The religious festival is originally a blend of pagan customs. The Romans held a festival on December 25 called Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, i.e. "the birthday of the unconquered sun.". Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule, held in late December to early January. However, it is uncertain exactly why December 25 became associated with the birth of Jesus since the Old Testament doesn't mention a specific date of the event.

Tools

Shop till you drop

Set a spending limit. This is vital unless you like the funny palpitations surprise bank statements or credit card bills tend to induce. No one is going to think any less of you for doing your shopping on a budget. If they do then you might want to question why exactly it is you include them on your list anyway.

Make a list.

Like the head honcho of Christmas shopping himself, you should make a list and check it two or three times. Make sure each person you will give to is on the list. Be sure the items you choose are not above your spending limit. When you go out shopping, buy what is on the list and on the list only. One of the easiest ways overspend is through impulse purchases. If the item is not on your list, but happens to truly be perfect, bump another item from the list.

Bargains are your secret friend. One tendency that needs to be rooted out is the feeling that you must spend a certain amount per gift. Where did that idea come from? It is silly. If you find a gorgeous handbag on sale for 50 per cent off, there is no need to spend the amount you saved on supplemental gifts.

All this does is absorb funds and create unnecessary additional shopping. The handbag is enough. Don't feel guilty for not spending a certain amount; instead feel savvy for finding a smashing gift for a price that leaves a little something for a rainy day.

Start early. Christmas, and other gift giving occasions, occur on the same day every year. Why is that so many people are rushing frantically to the 24-hour Christmas Eve last chance sales? Unless you like the challenge and stress of doing your shopping with huge crowds of desperate and rabid shoppers, get it done early.

The rationale that the sales are better if you wait just doesn't make any sense. Why take the risk that you may not have the time or selection to find what you really need? If you start early enough you can bargain shop much more effectively than if you wait to zero hour when the need to get something, anything eclipses all other concerns.

Shop online.

Avoid the crowds and stores altogether and shop in your bunny slippers in the comfort of your own home. A few things you will avoid by staying home: fighting for parking, lost crying children, sharp elbowed fellow shoppers or less than helpful store clerks.

A few of the pros virtual storefronts have to offer: savings in gas, many online stores have free shipping offers, special web only sales and offers, and perhaps the biggest advantage of all shopping and shipping to distant relatives without going to the post office yourself. Don't forget the list.

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