Christmas is quickly closing in on me.Â Iâ€™ve put off shopping as long as I can.Â Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and the crowds will expand exponentially when the sales hit the floor.Â With our monetary situation tighter than expected, Iâ€™m looking to make a few cuts in budget.Â I still want to be a blessing, but Iâ€™m going to have to do it at a discount.
1.Â Â Â Â Â No Christmas cards this year.Â Even when I make my own, the postage is rough (I usually send out about 70).Â Instead, Iâ€™ll aim for Easter â€“ no one expects a card then.
2.Â Â Â Â Â Letâ€™s talk turkey.Â Most years, I cook and prepare the Christmas bird.Â This year, I may bow out and let someone else take the lead.Â The sides or desserts can be done with things already stocked in my pantry and frig, so my contributions wonâ€™t have to cost any additional money.
3.Â Â Â Â Â Check Your Stash.Â I have always kept a gift chest (for those unexpected occasions) so this year I will hit it before I hit the stores.Â I know I can find some great stocking stuffers hiding away.Â There are probably even some gifts for the family that I have forgot all about (like Iâ€™m the only one who bought something months ahead and then completely forgot I bought it).
4.Â Â Â Â Â Bake and freeze.Â There are now four full weeks before I have to package and send out Christmas gifts.Â This year I foresee lots of baked goods.Â By starting now (and freezing for packaging later) I will not be overwhelmed at the end of December).
5.Â Â Â Â Â One per customer.Â Normally, we do three main gifts for each of the kids, but this year we will probably stick with one.Â This will leave plenty of room for all the stuff the grandparents pour over them.
6.Â Â Â Â Â Keep it all natural.Â This means not electronics.Â First, they tend to loose interest in these toys the fastest.Â Second, the accessories (batteries, remotes, etc) could break any bank.Â Third, they are just not as durable.Â Weâ€™ll stick with the Legos, Lincoln logs, and K-nex.
7.Â Â Â Â Â Cut down on the travel.Â If you are going to do in-store shopping, then make it all in one trip.Â The same goes for delivering gifts (even better, have a central home that everyone can drop of and pick up gifts â€“ if there is lots of extended family involved).Â Gas is getting too expense not to figure into the Christmas budget.
8.Â Â Â Â Â Make a list and stick to it.Â This is a time that impulse buying must be avoided at all costs.Â Have an idea of what you are getting for each person, where it can be purchased, and stick to that plan.
9.Â Â Â Â Â Creative Wrapping.Â If you donâ€™t buy your Christmas wrapping in January then now is the time to get creative.Â For childrenâ€™s gifts, you can use the funny papers â€“ most of them are thrilled by this.Â For others, use paper bags and let the kids decorate the â€œwrapping.â€Â (Along the same note â€“ if you do need to send a card to then make it yourself or let the kids do it.Â Cards from some places can be as expensive as the gift).
Looking back over this list I realized that many of the ideas are great all year through.Â They are also tried and true methods we have used in the past.Â Some have even become traditions (no matter what our budget was).Â The key to a success gift giving season is to keep in mind that it is the thought, not the gift or the price, that truly counts.