Monday, October 10, 2011

How I Do Christmas

My new friend Emily asked me to do a post on how I do Christmas. Most people think I'm crazy and eccentric because all of my Christmas presents have been bought and wrapped for months. WHY??? Why not? I ENJOY the holidays. They aren't stressful. I spend so little on Christmas presents because I know when to shop and I shop all year long for what I think are the best presents. I am able to relax and enjoy all of the holiday festivities with my family. I even have all the craft projects to do with my kids organized in baggies and ready to be made. Sugar cookies are in the freezer all ready to be frosted. So....seeing as it is October, there isn't as much time to get ready but you can still use some of my tips to alleviate some of the stress this year and next year you can make it really easy on yourself.

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!)

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 I have found seem to have great deals are March (toys the month before Easter are cheaper and if you coupon, you can often find some great coupons) 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. For Christmas this year I went in with my in-laws on a loving family playhouse with 5-6 room sets and the car and people for probably 1/5 of what it is new and everything looks amazing! My kids will never know.

That's all I can think of right now. I hope this helps someone. The key is to plan ahead and avoid paying the high prices of so called "deals" at Christmastime and guilt purchases. The more you avoid the stores at Christmastime, the less you'll spend. TRUST ME! :) Let me know if you have any questions. My pregnant mind doesn't always make so much sense--even to me! :)