Several years back my sister told me she had all her shopping done in September. I totally thought she was crazy at the time. Flash forward a few years and I was pregnant with our first fall baby. I decided to try to get my shopping done early and had everything bought and wrapped before the baby came. I was amazed and shocked at how EASY and RELAXING Christmas was that year. After that Christmas I started shopping for the next year and got some SUPER, AWESOME, AMAZING deals from companies that had too much extra after the shoppers were all shopped out (which is practically every store.) I saved tons of money and it is actually way more fun having things bought and wrapped in advance because I honestly forget what I've bought (I do keep a running list written down somewhere...) and its soooo fun to see them opening something I had forgotten about!
When I shop early or right after Christmas I find I spend SO MUCH LESS and I get better, more thoughtful gifts (rather than impulse buys). I usually only go to the store like twice between Thanksgiving and Christmas for groceries. Can I tell you how wonderful it is to avoid rude and inconsiderate people during the holidays?!?!
This year we've decided to give each other and our kids only 3 presents for simplicity and because the wise men brought Jesus 3 gifts. I read this on a friends private blog and I thought it was crazy at first but I remember back to each Christmas and although we have pretty frugal, simple Christmas mornings as it is, the kids are always overwhelmed! Why not spend less and enjoy more? This year we got gifts that will encourage sibling and family play so we can spend the day relaxing and playing instead of unwrapping and wading through mounds of wrapping paper.
Here are some tips I shared in a previous blog post which you can see HERE
1. Make a list of EVERYONE you need to shop for (don't forget co-workers, neighbors, old friends, that random relative, etc.)
2. Set a budget of how much you're willing to spend.
3. Divide money between each person/family. You may have to do some adjusting for a while to get it right. We try to focus on one family or person each year to spoil and get them something extra nice. We've also learned that something simple is all that is needed for other people--they'd rather you not go into debt for some present they won't even like. They just want to know you remembered them.
4. Start to list ideas of gifts to give each person (this is the hardest part I think).
5. Now start shopping!
6. Keep a list of how you're doing.
7. Once all presents are purchased--wrap. I love doing this early because I always forget a bunch of what I get my family members and it makes Christmas morning even more fun!
8. Purchase extra non-personal gifts like nice boxes of chocolates or nuts or gift cards for the people you forget (the first few years you do this you'll forget someone!)
9. ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS!
Tips about shopping:
Right after Christmas (when most people don't have any money) are the BEST deals. I can't emphasize this enough. If you budget and plan, you can find the money to shop at this time. EVERYTHING seems to be on sale at rock bottom prices somewhere. I think most things are even better than black friday prices. Shop online or in store. Ask store clerks where clearance sections are. You may be surprised you never saw them before.
Other months that seem to have great deals are March (toys are cheaper a month before Easter and if you find coupons you can really score) and September (lots of items go on clearance as stores prepare their shelves for Christmas).
Shop used. Depending on the person and what you'd like to get for them, sometimes you can find AMAZING things used (or even brand new) on places like craigslist, local thrift stores and Yard Sales. My husband found me a Kitchenaid mixer used only 2-3 times for at least half the price. It is amazing.
So, I am ok with you thinking I'm crazy but I would love it if you tried some of these ideas so that you can have a more relaxed and wonderful holiday season to spend with your family! Try it and I think you'll like it!
Do you have any other tips or tricks to make the holidays stress-free?