The leaves are beginning to change color and the chain stores have their Halloween candy out. Though it seems very odd to start this early, you can save by thinking “Christmas gifts” now. Here are my thoughts on helping you get better Christmas gifts for less!
First, begin to make a list of who you would like to bless this Christmas. The purpose of your list will be to begin to hunt for bargains and avoid a last minute stop to purchase an over priced, but easy gift. You know who these people are so write them down on your list and don't forget non family members, such as the kid’s teachers, Sunday School teachers, friends and neighbors. One thought is to place your gift giving into categories so you know about how much you want to spend. For example: Immediate family - $200, Extended family $50, Friends and teachers $20. Now you have a good ballpark while looking for gifts.
Second, with your list in mind, keep an eye out for bargains now. If you run into a great sale or a great price on a nice gift item, buy several. I used to buy the same gift for all my children's teachers. If you are willing to spend $20 and find an awesome item typically selling for $50 but they are on sale in September or October for $20 - then you can give an added blessing to your children's teachers at no added cost to your budget. You know what will make a really nice gift so keep your eyes open. Sometimes I would come across such a great bargain I buy more than the amount I needed on my list so I have an item or two just in case. If we are invited over and get a gift from someone I was always ready.
Third, begin to solicit from your close family and friends what they would like for Christmas. If you know well in advance you can keep an eye out for a great bargain. Because all these individual gifts would begin to confuse me I keep a list handy. Then I refresh my memory each time I am out in the stores.
Don't forget about home made gifts. If you enjoy making items you may benefit from getting an early start and by looking for good prices on items now. Don't forget about your craft store coupons. If you need five items for your craft you have more than 5 weeks to get an item a week at 40% off!
If you are new to thinking ahead here are some suggestions of things to look out for:
Smelly soaps, books, beautiful note cards, pretty dish towels, Christmas ornaments, gourmet cookies (these are hard to keep around long) and other things my family calls “giftees” - be creative. This also applies to birthday party gifts. Through a small amount of planning you will be able to prevent expensive last minute gift buying.
Some things that we’ve made in the past are punched tin or simple crossed-stitched Christmas ornaments, stenciled log carriers and corn husk wreaths. One year I cross-stitched lid covers for mason jars and filled them with Christmas candy. Another year we made Spinach Stuffing dinner rolls and froze them (over 30 batches) – this was a much appreciated gift. One family dipped Oreo's in melted candy making chocolate and colored sprinkles and bagged up 5 or so for a very tasty and very inexpensive gift.
A little planning now will help keep your Christmas “bottom line” in line by both spreading out expenses and by helping you maximize the potential of each dollar you spend. Another benefit will be the reduced stress you feel come December. Take some time and plan now for a great and inexpensive Christmas.
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