………than to receive a credit card bill in January that needs to be paid immediately. So how do we bridge that gap between giving great gifts to our family and friends during the holidays, and not breaking the bank trying to buy everyone a gift. We strategize of course! I can hear you now saying things like “I’m not crafty,” or “I don’t have time.” At my house we always have more time than money. The trick is to use that to your advantage preparing for the holiday season.
So here is your new way of thinking about the holidays. It is all in your mindset. You have to prepare. No last minute trips to the convenience store on Christmas Eve to try and gather something to wrap. Here it is. Are you ready? The strategy is that on December 26th you tell yourself, “I only have 364 shopping days till Christmas.” Ok, don’t stop reading. I’m not crazy, I am organized. It is the only way to save money and be able to give great gifts to everyone in your family.
So what does that mean? Well, at your local box stores (Wal-mart, Target, K-mart, Dollar General), the day after Christmas means all Christmas related items go on sale. This is the best opportunity to purchase wrapping paper, bows, gift tags, and decorations. Ahhhh, I hear it again. I hear you saying, “I can’t store that stuff all year.” “I don’t have room in my house for that nonsense.” Again, I disagree. You just have to be creative. There are ways to make it work. Look at these cool storage solutions.
You know you haven’t used that back part of your closet wall in forever. Really, when else would you use it? See? It’s the perfect place to store your bargains.
Look at this great over the door storage! Room for everything in one place and easy to see when you get ready to wrap.
Are you catching on to my train of thought? So about January you tell yourself, “I only have about 330 shopping days left till Christmas.” After you get over your initial panic that the year is flying by, then you sit down and make a list. Add everyone on your list that you buy gifts for each Christmas. Don’t forget teachers, the mail-person, your hair stylist, and all the other folks that appreciate a small gift each year for their service. I then look at the list to decide who will get homemade gifts this year. I am working my way through our nieces and nephews as each year one or two of them get a quilt. That is not something I can start in October and finish up by Christmas. I have to start early. Note by each persons name any ideas you have for handmade items that could be started now. Before I finish up with my list day, I also go to my calendar and mark a day in December that will be saved for making sweet treats that will be given as gifts. Hint: these are great for the teachers, mail people, etc, that we discussed earlier. If you don’t set the time up now, your calendar will get busy and you will soon hear yourself saying, “I really meant to make sweet treats this year, but it didn’t happen.” Try this recipe. It is delicious, cheap, and oh so easy! It is just perfect for slipping into a tin or container with cute Christmas motifs.
- 16 oz bag of pretzels
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Pour pretzels into a large bowl.
- Combine oil, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
- Pour combined mixture over pretzels and mix well to fully coat the pretzels.
- Place coated pretzels on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. I used this Pyrex.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, shifting and shaking cookie sheet a couple of times during the baking process.
One last thing before we leave the topic of lists. Carry it with you when you are going to be around your family members. If you really listen you will hear them say things like, “I am working on _____, and it would be so much easier if I had a _____ tool.” Or, “I saw this cooking show the other day and they were using a ________. I would like to have one of those for my kitchen.” The Ah Ha moment! You just got a suggestion on what to give them this year. Write it down on your list. I promise you won’t remember it if you don’t write it down now.
The year is cruising along, you haven’t thought a thing about Christmas because you just got back from spring break at the beach and all the sudden you look down and see the list. Oh dear, you only have 240 or so shopping days until Christmas. Don’t worry, you can still get it done. Now is the time to start purchasing your bought gifts one or two at a time each month. Remember, you have been jotting down all those things you have heard your friends and family say they want. Now instead of trying to buy all of them in December you are paying for them a little at a time throughout the year. Continue this until around October or so and you will have most of your shopping done! Easy peasy!
All the sudden, spooks are out and turkeys are gobbling, or being gobbled, and you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach. You know the one where you come to the realization that you now have to start buying Christmas gifts. Well guess what! We have about 30 or so shopping days until Christmas and your list is almost complete. The only thing left to do is wrap your gifts and pick up the few last minute items that couldn’t be purchased earlier in the year. No muss. No fuss. You get to enjoy the holiday time with your friends and family and without a single panic attack.
So go to your mailbox in January if you must, but doesn’t if feel good to know that with a little planning and forethought, you won’t be face to face with a monstrous credit card bill. Your family will still by raving about how awesome the pretzels tasted that you gave them in that cute Christmas tin. But the only thing you will be thinking is “there are only 330 shopping days left until Christmas and that is ok because I am fast, frugal, and fabulous.”