Whhaaaaaa? But the holidays just ended! Gimme a break, Lindsay! I hear ya. I’m still recovering from Christmas myself. Just yesterday I indulged in my very last Christmas cookie. It’s a sad day. But, onward we go, and I am already thinking about how to pull off Christmas 2012 even better than I managed to do it this year. Here are some of my best tips.
Stock Up on Supplies
Everyone and their brother is having an after-Christmas sale right now. We ran into Walmart couple days ago and everything is currently 50% off. I passed and will go back in a week or so to scrounge for what’s left. Last year I waited until prices were 75% off and got some awesome deals on gift tags and wrapping paper. Bonus tip: Look for stuff that can be used year-round. Plain gold or silver wrapping paper can easily be dressed up with a colorful bow, or covered in stickers like my kids love to do, and serve as birthday paper, too. Look for the ribbon while you’re there, too! Need lights? A tree stand? Make a list and go shopping. This is the time to stock up while prices are the lowest.
Start a Gift Stockpile
Get yourself a couple of storage totes (and hide them from your kids). I keep mine in the basement. When you see something you want to grab, a hot deal on an item, pick it up and stick it in your gift storage. When I see something that I know would make a great gift for a little girl and it’s an awesome deal, I buy it. I might even buy three. Then when my daughter goes to a birthday party, I already have a gift that I didn’t have to make a special trip for and that I got for a great price. Use your gift stockpile for the holidays, birthdays, Easter baskets, whatever! The idea is that you buy stuff when it’s on sale, which is not always exactly when you’re going to need it. Bonus Tip: Keep track of what you’ve bought. You don’t want to do your heavy duty Christmas shopping in November and then realize you were already halfway done before you started.
Start Saving Now
Last year was the first time we did this and I’ll never do Christmas any other way. We decided on our Christmas budget in January, divided that up by the number of pay periods in the year, and took that amount of money and socked it away for Christmas savings. It is SO NICE to not have to come up with the money for Christmas in November. And it makes it really easy to grab something anytime I see it and know that I’ve got money set aside to pay for it. When all those sales starts pouring in around Black Friday, you’ll be mighty glad you’ve got a holiday fund set up. I sure was!
Start a Gift Idea List
If you’re a computer person, start a spreadsheet or Excel document. Or use a good old fashioned notebook. List everyone you have to buy for, including teachers, family, friends, anyone! Then when you come up with a gift idea, add it to your list. It’s no fun to fret about needing one more gift for so-and-so and have no ideas. Chances are if you write a few things down over the course of the year, you’ll have more than enough ideas for gifts. This list will come in handy for giving other people gift ideas for you and your family, too. And I’ll bet it will be filled with really useful things you actually need instead of one more we-already-have-several-of-these!
Mark Your Calendar
Try as I might, I’m really not a very organized person. But I keep making efforts and once in a while I make progress. I started using my calendar not just for writing down appointments and birthdays, but for planning purposes, too. For example, my car was due for inspection this month. I wrote on the calendar in December: “Make appointment for Lindsay’s car inspection.” I called early enough to not be scrambling at the last minute to get my car inspected before it was overdue and guess what? DONE already and it’s only January 4th! Go me!
Use this method to help prepare for the holidays, too. Write down any special places or events you like to look for gifts. I love a local art show in August where I usually get some great gifts for family and friends. It’s already on my calendar! Remind yourself to get your baking list in order in November when all the baking supplies are on sale and there are tons of coupons to match with them. Think back on this past holiday season. What last-minute things cost you money or made you feel rushed? What reminders can you give yourself next year to make life easier?
Those are my best tips this year. Maybe next year I’ll have discovered even more great ideas! I’d love to hear from you, too!
What are your best tips for making life easier at holiday time by planning ahead?