OK, I admit it … I am starting to plan ahead for Christmas 2014. And today is October 31st. My youngest daughter will be trick or treating tonight, and my oldest will be hosting us at a family get-together at her house this evening. So yeah, technically I guess I should wait until tomorrow to write this post.
But then, haven’t we been bombarded in certain stores with Christmas decorations and presents already?!?!?! So this isn’t earth-shattering or anything. And the whole point of this post is to plan ahead, so I guess that makes this OK.
So here it is; these are a few ideas I want to share with you about getting ready for the Christmas season. Most of these are things that I have been doing for at least a few years now, and they do indeed help me.
And just so you know, I refuse to be politically correct here. I celebrate Christmas – and I make no apologies for that. Other folks celebrate what they want to, and call it whatever they want. And that’s OK. So by the same token, it’s OK if I talk about Christmas, and let other holidays be talked about by other folks. After all, my family’s farm is a Christmas tree farm – so that’s what I know! :)
- Start a Christmas Fund: call it a Christmas Club account, or whatever you like – your bank probably offers it. Mine does. I set up my Christmas Club account last November (it took about 10 minutes) online with my bank – and it will definitely be handy for 2014. I had been planning to set one up for the past couple years, but never got around to it until last year. And if your bank doesn’t have a special account option for that, see if you can set up a separate savings account that you use for Christmas shopping, etc. The point is to set up an account and contribute to it monthly. It doesn’t have to be much each month; $25 each month adds up to $300 in Christmas cash. Make it automatic so you don’t forget – “idiot-proof” is my preferred way to save. Because if I have to remember to make a deposit each month, to either my regular savings account or any other account, I will forget more often than I remember. So tell your bank to make the transfer each month, and that’s one less thing for you to worry about. (Hint – this is also a great option for those end-of-the-year horrors, like property taxes, etc. Ouch. That gets me every year! So this account will take the sting out of it – you contribute a little each month, and so when the bill comes due you aren’t left wondering if there will even BE a Christmas at your house this year.)
- Start a Stash of Gift Boxes, Bags, Wrapping Paper, Etc: This is something I actually HAVE done for a few years. I have a plastic tote where I store gift bags, gift boxes, and Christmas wrapping paper that I bought for 1/2 price or less after Christmas last year. If you have a little extra space you can designate a shelf to hold these items. Just be cautious about shopping the after-Christmas sales. You can get some great deals, but you have to be smart about it. And that’s assuming you actually have a little money left over after Christmas. :)
- Make Your Own Gift Tags: Anyone who does scrapbooking (I do not) will have all the tools they need to make this happen. All those cute punches and stencils … you can go nuts! You can put yourself into a creative coma with all that stuff. My grandmother made her own gift cards and gift tags, and she didn’t even have all those nifty stencils and punches – just a lot of creativity (and time … she had a lot of time.) But I learned from her, and my youngest daughter and I put together gift tags using cardstock, ink pads and stamps, buttons and ribbon, etc. My daughter has inherited much of my grandmother’s creativity. :) So have at it … take cardstock, or recycle cards you have received over the year and won’t keep, and make gift tags that will dazzle all those recipients on your gift list this year. And store them in the above mentioned tote or shelf with the gift wrap, boxes, and bags you will have so skillfully “liberated” from the store this coming January with very little coinage.
- Don’t Forget the Stocking Stuffers: I like to coupon sometimes. Not in the excessive “Extreme Couponing” way, but I am always happy to get a screamin’ good deal at the grocery store. And I have turned this “skill” into a nice haul for my daughters’ Christmas stockings this year. These are all things that I have “liberated” from the store – and by “liberate” I do not mean “steal.” But they ended up being free or almost-free after sales and coupons: nail polish, candy bars (the fancy kind that are usually at least $3 per bar) nail files, lip gloss, gummie bears and other assorted goodies, razors (again, not the cheap kind), little cosmetics bags, DVDs and CDs, etc. This may not sound like great stuff, but these are stocking stuffers … OK. The really good stuff they get under the tree. :) And I am not running around at the last minute, trying to gather items to put in their stockings … which has happened in years past. So how do you get the great deals? By combining coupons (you can get them from the Sunday newspaper or print them from online) with sales at you local/favorite stores. You can check out any of the many couponing websites for these great deals and more instructions. I like www.couponmom.com, and the Facebook pages “Totally Target” and “Budget Savvy Diva.” Hint – having a tub-o-goodies around is great for last minute little gifts for birthdays, etc. that might sneak up on you. Know the feeling?! ;)
And here’s the tip to help out with Christmas 2014:
Get a gift buying checklist – like the one here. (This is from Liz at “Life In Yellow” – I found her great blog and her awesome printables and feel they are worthy of sharing. Thanks, Liz!) These are great for keeping track of whom you have bought gifts for and for whom you have left to buy, so no one gets forgotten. What an awful feeling to realize you forgot to buy a present for someone! Oops … guess that won’t happen once you are using the above-mentioned tip of getting a handy stash of goodies together. But until then … use the gift buying checklist. :)
So there it is, for what it’s worth. A few ideas that I have used, and am using, to make Christmas a little less stressful for me. And hopefully they can help you too. Do you have any tips to share about making Christmas (or your particular holiday season) more manageable for you? Please share them in the comments below. Or better yet … write a blog post about them! Then come back and share the link to the blog post in the comments section. Would that work? I hope so! Let’s do it – we’ll help each other out and make thing a little more sane for all of us. :)