How do you prepare ahead for the holiday season. This can include ideas for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas dealing with food, gifts, organization or your own family traditions.
I do a lot to help prepare:firstly - I make a list of the things I need to buy for Christmas and by starting in October buy one or two small items with my main grocery shopping which I do once a week.I keep my eyes open for sale items for gifts instead of waiting till the last moment and I also buy Christmas cards in the sales.I use my commission from a catalogue which I use to buy gifts from the catalogue and I also use points gained at different shops. - Sandra UK (10/23/2001)
I buy up foods for the holidays as early as is practical, flour and sugar, chocolate chips and nuts for baking, apple cider when on sale for hot mulled cider, dressing mix, cranberry sauce, etc.It seems like a lot of the cost of the holidays is all the special food we like to have. I do my best to spread out the cost to the grocery budget during the weeks ahead. (10/23/2001)
Regarding holiday preparations I so agree that spreading out the cost makes sense. We have always done that. Just don't start too early as some of the stuff can go bad and it isn't a bargain if you have to throw it out.This also applies to putting stuff away until you need it, if you can't find it, it isn't a bargain. I got some Halloween Material a few years ago and haven't seen it since.I've known plenty of people who have lost Presents because they put them where they'd know where to find them. (10/24/2001)
I like to use memory making gift ideas for the holidays and to do that I must start early not so much with the buying but with the "Memory Maker". Example: One Christmas I bought popular games--Monopoly, Clue, Life, etc.I made up a game called how well do you know Pappy with questions. "What does he like on his pizza?", etc. I hid the games for the grandkids to find but first they had to answer a question right then they got to look and the first game they found that's the one they got to keep. All the games but one was found. I had to tell them where it was--it was under a throw rug that the kitchen garbage can sat on.Boy did they like that. That was 3 years ago and they talk about it and laugh.
I work full-time, and for seven years I was a single mother on a very tight budget. Here are some things I have learned over the years to help me with gift selections for the Christmas holidays:
1. Check out Christmas craft and cookbooks from the library in May/June/July. You can get great ideas on making gifts and almost nobody bothers to look at Christmas books in the spring and summer - no problem getting plenty of books and ideas.
2. Begin Christmas shopping for next year the day after Christmas. If you don't mind the crowds, get in there and get some bargains!! I have bought toys, perfume, sweaters, coats, pajamas, robes, etc. at Christmas clearance sales for the next year. Reserve the bottom of one closet at home to store it in. If it is for immediate family I go ahead and wrap it, so they won't get nosy!
3. Keep a running list of who you have to buy for and ideas on what to get them. Whenever my husband mentions something he wants, it gets put on the list. Same with my teenage daughter. Keep this list in your wallet so you can refer to it when you are shopping. Mark people off as you complete their gift selection, so you don't get 8 gifts for your Mom and nothing for Uncle Bob (I learned this one the hard way!)
4. Shop all year long. I don't understand how people can wait until after Thanksgiving to shop for everyone on their list. For one thing, we've only got 4 paychecks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. There's no way we can pay the bills, buy food, and buy gifts too. By September of this year I had over 75% of my gift shopping done.
5. Check into ABC Distributing and LTD Commodities. If you work for a company you can set up an account with them and order through their catalogs. I have found them to have good quality merchandise at a fair price, even including shipping. The ladies at my office all pass around the catalogs, I place the orders on-line and we pay for the merchandise after it is delivered. I have learned that when I follow these rules, I am able to enjoy Christmas more by not freaking out over what to buy, who to buy for, where to get the best deal, etc. A week after Thanksgiving, I will put on my favorite Christmas CD's, pour a glass of wine, and wrap all the great gifts I have purchased (in gift wrap I got at a yard sale or from last year's clearance sale, of course), referring to my list so I will know who gets what.
I always have 5 or 6 small gifts set aside for unexpected guests. I don't like having someone come with a gift and have nothing to give in return. These are usually either Christmas Ornaments or baked goods. I also have some small toy gifts to give to children who come by. If they don't get used, I save them for next year or in the case of baked goods, we eat them. (10/30/2001)
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