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Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Christmas Plan, or How To Actually Enjoy the Holidays....

Santa with baby Dixon
The holidays are all about joy, family and love… but there will be gifting involved and unless you want to spend December in a frenzy of putting yourself into debt and run a stress marathon, there needs to be a plan.

My goal every year is to be DONE by December 1st. Usually I’m right on target. This isn’t because I’m some super organized diva but rather, because December was always an iffy month for us. You see, my husband worked for a large photo-finishing company in Rochester NY and all my tradeshows and other major work were done by the end of October. Both of our companies typically would do layoffs in December in an effort to get the employees off the books by the New Year. Ironically, the one year I wasn’t worried about it was the one year that, on December 17th, I got pink slipped

Having a young child means that Santa has to come whether or not mom and/or dad have a job that year so to shield us away from the uncertainty, I created a plan that helped to have as much done before the month of December hit. Because most if not all of the stress of gift buying is finished and the debt has generally been paid throughout the year, you enter the New Year without a huge credit card bill in January. So here is the plan in ten simple steps.

  1. Start your shopping on December 26th.
    The best sales of anything holiday related is generally right after the holiday. I pick up any (non-food, non-expiration date) items such as candle gift sets, baskets, etc... and stash them for next year’s Christmas. This is the ideal time to buy your wrapping paper, gift tags, and holiday cards as well. I also will purchase solid wrapping paper that I use for baby showers, birthdays and other gifting occasions. This can be dressed up with ribbons, artificial flowers, etc. so that they don’t resemble anything like holiday gift wrap.
  2. Give Meaningful Gifts.
    Most of the time, the best gifts you give are the    
    Some beautiful beaded and the Ukrainan woven beaded necklaces
    found at Arts and Crafts Fairs.

    one’s that have the most meaning. While at an art and crafts festival last year, I met a woman that
    made beautiful Ukrainian beaded necklaces. I bought some for myself and loved them.
    Now, my grandmother had given me a beaded necklace that was well over 100 years old. It had broken in two because the threads were so old as to be brittle. I contacted this lady and had her make three necklaces, one for each grandchild out of this one necklace. This way, instead of having one child inherit a broken necklace, all three can pass this down to their children knowing they have a piece of family history that is well over a hundred years old.

    Now, you may not have an heirloom to pass down, but what about looking up a branch of the family history on a genealogy website that has always been unknown to your family and present that as a gift. Or create a family cookbook with all your family’s recipes and pictures. (Snapfish, and others will do this at a reasonable rate.)
  3. Make Your Gift.                                                    
    A homemade gift says I though enough about you
    to gift you the most precious things I have. My love
    and my time.

    Forget what the commercials say, when s
    omeone has actually spent time to put the loving energy to make you something you know you are loved. A crocheted scarf, a pair of knitted mittens, a piece of stained
    glass or a quilt that you made lets your recipient know they are cared about and that you took the time to actually make something for them. Let’s face it,
    anyone can buy something, it’s something really special when someone made something for you. And who knows? It may become the next heirloom.

  4. Not Crafty? Visit Craft Fairs Year around.                        
    Let me just say, craft fairs are fun. Some are better than others but you never know what you are going to 
    Unique gifts are remembered and not
    that hard to find at craft fairs.
    find. Some of the best gifts I’ve given or had made where from people I met and the local summer arts and craft fair.
    Handmade doesn’t always have to be your hands making them. You can find some of the best local artists this way and as you are helping your community by buying local (in most cases anyway) it’s kind of like gifting on the double, the money stays in the community. Some of the best things I’ve gotten at craft shows included: aforesaid beaded necklaces, welded sculpture out of reclaimed goods, a porcelain Cabbage Patch style doll and Maple Sugar (great for foodies).

  5. Shop for Stocking Stuffers Year Round.
    Back to school is an excellent time to find crayons and markers for next to nothing. Couple this with a few coloring books and you have a nice small gift or stocking stuffer. With couponing, you can often score free travel sized items, free cosmetics for your teenage girl or body spray for your teenage boy.

  6. Buy "Christmas Candy" on November 1st.
    As soon as Halloween is over, the candy typically goes on sale. Stock up on any fun sized candy bars that do not have any Halloween markings on them. Put in the deep freeze and they are good to go on December 24th.
  7. Do Your Christmas Cards by Thanksgiving or the Day After and Get Them Mailed Out.
    In the lull after everyone has been fed and gone home, sit at the table, count your blessing and get the cards addressed. It’ll take you ten to thirty minutes tops and you’ll get it done. If it takes more, then either get your children involved or cull your list. You shouldn’t go into debt to wish someone holiday greetings.
  8. As You Buy, So Shall You Wrap
    As soon as you get home and as soon as the recipient is out of sight (or in bed) wrap those gifts so you have one more thing done that doesn't pile up. 
  9. Check Out the Sales Year Round and Stock Up.
    One year, a national toy shop had buy one get one Hasbro games. What do you think each kid got as a gift that Christmas? Yankee Candle does a buy one get one usually around September or October. Sign up on their website and get the emails alerting you. I stock up at that time and they make wonderful gifts.
  10. Food Gifts Make Wonderful Gifts.                        Not everyone has someone to cook for them.Very often single people won’t take the time to create the traditional Christmas Cookies or fudge or peanut butter brittle. Or what about your famous Sunday Sauce or jam? When you are canning in the summer, make some extra for gifts. A gift of banana jam may be the one thing that a Grandma who used to can may absolutely love because she no longer does it herself.

This is how I get to spend my free time in December actually enjoying my family and going to fun and interesting places. I get it done early so I can enjoy the wonderment of the holiday season. Blessings to you and yours.


1 comment:

  1. Great ideas, hints and tips! A couple years ago I did #1 and then the next year and since I haven't. It did work so well, why did I stop? No idea but now I am motivated to start back up. I had given out home canned jams and homemade goods one year but then thought that was silly but I see your point not everyone can do and might appreciate it! Anyway, great list, really got me thinking and I appreciate it!