Back to Christmas. We have 21 family members to give gifts to (including ourselves) plus some little things for friends and neighbors. I know, it sounds like a lot but our combined family is pretty big. My Hubby has 7 brothers and sisters (4 from each of his Dad's marriages) but we do the drawing between them and all the spouses, so each person has 1 name (or 2 in our case, 1 per each of us). Because of the drawing, I never shop for siblings in advance but I do buy toys over the year for kids in the family.
So how can you start preparing for Christmas right now?
1 First, make a list of people you will give gifts to. It usually includes your family members, close friends, kids' teachers, neighbors etc. The list will give you an approximate idea of how much money you need to put aside for presents.
2. Consider other expenses you will possibly have. This can include Christmas dinner/ party hosting if you can know in advance that it's going to be your responsibility, travel and mailing expenses, Xmas cards, a surprise for your mailman, a gift for a child in need, even a new outfit for an office party. Give yourself room for extra expenses that seem to always pop up during the season.
3. Start putting aside some money. It may seem like you have 2/3 of the year until Christmas but in reality it's not that long. I like to think that I only have about 37 weeks left. What needs to be done in 37 weeks? Even if you start putting $10 a week aside right now, you'll have a nice cushion of $370 sitting in a bank for your peace of mind. Double this amount, and you'll have enough of money for all the holiday needs of an average family without using your credit card.
4. Think homemade. Homemade gifts are a lot more personal. They really show care and hard work. They show love. But they also take time. Some are easy to make within a couple of weeks, others take months (if not years). If you want to give some homemade gifts, start now! Every year I make at least a couple of gifts myself. Last year I made this hat and scarf set for my 1-year old niece ( very simple):
I also made these Birthday boards for my MIL and FIL (I'm sorry for the terrible pictures-these are from a cell phone):
I'm nothing close to Debby or Carla with their amazing creations but I do what I can. And I know, you can too!! The web world is filled with simple and fun craft projects that you can try to make for your loved ones.
5. Buy in advance. As I said before, I'm not a great fan of buying much in advance because (especially, with kids and teenagers) preferences change every
I scored these cute jars for free!! Our local bookstore was giving them away to the first 100 customers, and I was among the first. I'm going to fill them with seasonal candies, decorate with a pretty ribbon and give to three wonderful ladies in the neighborhood that I visit about once a month.
The Christmas season is a very special time but it can also get very stressful. With some preparation like these simple steps you can make this time a lot more enjoyable and concentrate on the true meaning of Christmas and spending time with your loved ones.