With the temperatures falling and retailers beginning to switch their background music over to the Christmas carol station, I decided to ignore the fact that Halloween and Thanksgiving haven’t happened yet and have started planning for year-end
Like Dickens wrote “I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.”
So with visions of sugarplums dancing in my head, I’ve got some great tips to help you get a head start on a merry and memorable Christmas.
Never miss a local story.
One step ahead of Rudolph
Many stores have sales throughout the fall in order to clear their shelves for seasonal, so do yourself a favor and check out what the current prices are for any ‘requested’ gifts.
For instance, that Polly Pocket play set your daughter has been pining over or the xBox game your teenager son must have. The more time you have on your side and knowledge about what things should cost, the more you will get a good deal.
One year, we did customized books for my nieces and nephews. Stories with their names incorporated throughout the book with a theme that made sense for them like baseball or dance. We found a great deal online and saved a bundle and because we ordered early, we could cross it off our list and be done. We weren’t scrambling for ideas and braving the crowds at the last minute.
For extended families or friends, you can get a little more resourceful in your gift-giving. For instance, purchasing in yearly themes can be a creative, budget-friendly new tradition. http://www.putmeinthestory.com/.
Here are some other neat ideas for themed gift exchanges:
• Sleepwear. Every storybook character or superhero seems to have his or her
own pajama set. For adults, you could buy a nightgown, slippers or a luxurious
• Have you gotten married or had a baby in the last year? A photograph printed canvas of a special moment is a great idea http://www.greatbigcanvas.com.
Speaking of photographs, a photobook www.picaboo.com or calendar filled with a whole year’s worth of pictures of the kids would be a hit with grandparents or aunts and uncles.
• A simple wicker basket filled with personalized goodies (for example, trail mix and mini flashlights for the outdoor types) or gather up the ingredients for a treasured family recipe. The possibilities with this are endless! http://campclem.com/2012/05/18/the-lowdown-on-how-to-put-together-a-fantastic-affordable-gift-basket/
The Naughty and Nice List
Santa has his lists and so should you. The first list you’ll need to write is the most important one (and following it will keep you off your spouse’s naughty list, too).
Sit down and figure out your budget. Gift shopping is a great way to utilize the tried and
true Envelope Method http://www.happilyeverstrader.com/2013/07/how-to-envelope-
system.html. Or, if you’re using credit cards to score some points or rewards for yourself,
use a pen-and-paper budget sheet. Either way, keep track of your spending. http://bit.ly/1u8jVKn.
Another list you’ll want to write is a breakdown of who’s been nice this year and getting a gift. In some families, a pre-determined spending amount ($25 for kids and $50 for adults) is set for a large gift exchange. Or, you and your partner may dedicate Christmas shopping for the kids and spoil each other on your birthdays.
Whatever your holiday traditions are, knowing how many gifts you’ll be buying will help you figure out where to shop and give your budget list a boost, too.
Don’t let Christmas shopping become a source of stress. Remember, we exchange gifts with our families and friends as a token of appreciation for the love they give us all year round. With some planning ahead and research, you can get your shopping done before
Mrs. Claus has even started baking her cookies.
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.