Why am I talking about Christmas already, you ask?
I used to be a last minute Christmas shopper. In fact, I used to not even think about Christmas shopping until the 2nd week of December. But last year my cousin told me she starts shopping for Christmas gifts in August, and that it saves her a ton of money and takes some of the stress out of the Christmas season.
So last year I did my Christmas shopping very early, and it was a good thing I did since I ended up hospitalized much of December and never would have bought anything. So now that October has begun, I want to share some of my tricks with you so you can get yourself organized and take advantage of this time to reduce your holiday stress and save some money.
Trick #1: Make a list
Sit down and make a list of everyone you need to buy Christmas presents for, and put this list somewhere where you will see it everyday, but not in a public place. I usually put mine on my dresser mirror. After you make the list, brainstorm gift ideas next to each name.
Trick #2: Keep tabs
I have a list I keep in my phone of little ideas I hear in conversation with people. My husband mentioned on the way to church the other day that he could use a new gym bag. I added this to my phone list when he wasn't looking. That list contains things people have mentioned to me, or even interests they've told me about in conversation. My nephew expressed an interest in tornadoes and weather systems a few months ago, and that is written in my list. This helps me to get gift I know the person will enjoy and saves me time wandering around stores.
Trick #3: Pay attention to your mail and email offers
This is about the time when I really start paying attention to sales which are advertized in the mail or through my email. Black Friday is not always the best day to shop for great deals. Look for coupon offers for sale events. I just received a coupon in my email for 20% my entire purchase during a large sale at a store this weekend. I print/cut out these offers and keep them in my purse so I don't miss the best sale days.
Trick #4: Set a budget for each month
Christmas can be very expensive, especially if you have a large family like mine. Therefore, I have learned it is so important to set a budget and spread it out. Usually I set a per person budget (written next to each name of my list), then I write the total amount into our household budget and try to split it out equally for October, November, and December. It makes the holidays so much easier to deal with when you have to budget in a little bit each month for a few months rather than starve in January for the spending in December.
Trick #5: Get crafty
Homemade gifts are great for showing people you really care, and you don't need to be really crafty to come up with some great gifts. Here are just a few ideas I love:
1) One year my sister gave us all a tin full of homemade trail mix and a picture frame with her son's newest school picture in it. Each year she gives me an updated photo for that frame.
2) Buy a roll of 100% cotton yarn and crochet or knit homemade dishcloths for people.
3) Bake some homemade Christmas cookies or bread and wrap it nicely for them
make them a cookie-in-a-jar. Just put all the ingredients in a pretty jar and include directions so they can make their own Christmas goodies.
4) Make a no-sew fleece blanket. Tutorial can be found HERE
I will be making all the ladies in my family a simple pillowcase nightgown as seen in THIS tutorial.
I hope you find these ideas useful, and please share any ideas you have!