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3 Ways To Prepare For Christmas (yup! Christmas.)

worried Christmas tree

I know…doesn’t it seem like Christmas just passed?

You probably can hardly stand to think about lights and trees and ornaments and gifts anymore, let alone consider the coming Christmas and all its trappings.

But, if you are one of the many people who received a depressing pile of post-Christmas bills in the mail during these past 6 weeks, I’d love to encourage you to think about next Christmas, and perhaps consider doing a couple of things starting now.

(Mmmhhmmm. In February!)

1. Start Saving

My husband and I start saving for Christmas in January, and we continue that all throughout the year. We don’t go crazy at Christmas, so we don’t have to save a LOT each month. We just have $40 automatically sent to our Christmas savings account every month, and by the end of the year, we have a nice little pile of money saved for gifts.

For many years, we didn’t operate this way, and I can tell you that the saving-ahead-of-time route is SO much less stressful…I really can’t recommend it enough! Even if you can only save $5 a week, that’s better than nothing.

An online savings account is a perfect place to stash your Christmas savings because the money is not readily available for withdrawal. To take it out, you have to request a transfer to your regular checking account, and that takes several days. This makes it much less tempting to pull the money out for something frivolous.

2. Keep Your Eyes Open For Gifts

The thing about looking for bargains at thrift stores or regular stores is that it’s sort of difficult to predict when they’ll be available (especially at thrift stores!). So, if you wait until December 15th, 2010 to start shopping, odds are good that you’ll have difficulty finding what you want, or you’ll have to pay more than you’d prefer to pay.

Obviously it’s not always good to buy things way ahead of time, but by the same token, it does work out well sometimes.

For instance, I know that Sonia is going to enjoy receiving bath products at Christmas time, so I’m already keeping a eye out to see if I can find some at Goodwill, and I’ll do that all year long. As another example, I know we’re going to let Lisey get her ears pierced this year, so I bought some fun Christmas earrings for her on clearance in January.

The little silver picture frame above is one that I found at Goodwill for my sister-in-law, who collects old silver frames. By taking a quick look through the frames each week at Goodwill, I’ve been able to find 5 different silver frames for her collection, and though these cost far less than new frames at the store, she much prefers to receive the older variety.

3. Think About What You Could Make For Christmas

If you want to learn how to make candy so that you can give it for gifts at Christmas, start practicing now so that you have a good recipe and a good skill set by December. The same goes if you want to learn how to make bread, jelly, scrapbooks, knit hats, or who knows what else.

If you start learning a skill now, your gifts will be that much better in December.

Another advantage to thinking ahead about making things for Christmas is that you can start ahead of time. This is especially handy if you are making time-consuming gifts, non-perishable gifts like knit items, or scrapbooks. As a for instance, I got the idea to make the leather album for my sister back in May, and I added a few pages to the album every time I did a photo shoot of my nephew.

This was much less stressful than starting the album for my husband’s grandma 4 days before Christmas. <cough that was stupid cough>

If you’re at a loss when it comes to homemade gift ideas, you might find the suggestions in my post on homemade Christmas gifts to be helpful.


So, that’s how I prepare ahead of time. But if you’ve got a good planning-ahead idea for Christmas that’s different than mine, do share with us in the comments. You might inspire me!


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Friday 19th of February 2010

Hey's been a long while since I have posted and blogged. :-)

My question: I like the ING idea and appreciate you letting me know about it but my question do you get the money when you need it? and just so I understand you right...I can attach the ING account to my CU account and transfer money there online...right?!?!?! and I can have as many of those as I need for different categories....fee free?!?!?!?!


Tuesday 6th of December 2011

Yep, it's all free. And it just transfers from your regular checking account.


Friday 19th of February 2010

I bought my first Christmas presents for the year today! Glad to see I'm not the only one :) We also like to shop the after Christmas sales for ornaments for the next year. We like to give nice ornaments to our parents for Christmas but they are so expensive! Usually the ornaments are 1/2 off at the specialty stores the day after Christmas... These were great tips Kristen and gave me the push I needed to get started up again.


Friday 19th of February 2010

I prepare for Christmas all year round too. My yearly goal is to be done and wrapped by Thanksgiving and I usually make it. I make gifts, shop thrift and garage sales and also "regular" stores for good sales. I have a large Rubbermaid tote in a designated closet and when I get a gift I pop it in there and enter it into a list on the computer with the person's name and the item so I don't forget. I find you are much more thoughtful and get much better bargains when you are relaxed and not rushing to find the perfect gift in the Dec. mall crowds. (I despise malls!) I already have some items put away for Christmas 2010 that I got at after Christmas sales, including some sterling silver necklaces originally marked $35.00 for $2.99! Yahoo!


Thursday 18th of February 2010

Strangely, I have always been on the lookout for gifts all during the year, even back in college when I would go to swap meets and craft fairs and get things for my family that I knew they would like. And especially after I was so busy one year that I left the shopping too late and hated being in the stores so much that I vowed "never again!"

It's not so much being fixated on Christmas, it's almost the opposite. If you're not stressed about it, you can find things all year long and have time to enjoy the holiday when it comes around.

I'm going to operate based on what were hits this year and add a few new things. I like to do experience gifts best, and then some homemade consumables. Last year I made egg nog, rosemary shortbread cookies, bourbon balls, pumpkin bread, and granola. They are all fun for me to make. This year I'll drop the egg nog for all but the diehard fans because it was really pricey (mostly because of the alcohol). And I think I'll add fresh rosemary bread, and marmalade if my friend will teach me how to make it.

Sook @ My Fabulous Recipes

Thursday 18th of February 2010

Great ideas!!!

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