Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's TIME for Christmas!

Yes, I know it really is July, but it is coming VERY soon! Let's begin thinking NOW of how to take some stress off the holiday season.

1. Make your list and BEGIN shopping. Did you know prices rise after Labor Day? If you don't believe me, check the prices NOW and watch to see them rise as the Christmas season nears. Don't get caught in the rush; start shopping now. Or start making. One year a friend and I started making our gifts in January and by the time Fall was here, we were done~it was a relief! Planning is key in so many things isn't it?

2. Wrap your gifts, tag them and HIDE them well before Christmas. Just because they are wrapped and ready doesn't mean you will remember them~SO MAKE A LIST of WHERE you have them IF you might forget. You can put that list in a place you are likely to find it easily like a place you frequent a lot. Now if you have little children this could be trickier, but you will find the right spot. THINK how nice it will be to have those presents ready for under the tree! This is ONE less think to worry over and do!

3. Begin gathering your decorations now. OK. . .so what do I mean gathering in July? Some of us may need to inventory our Christmas decor for things that need to go or "shared" before the time to actually put them out. Also we may need to have list of what is needed: lights, hangers, new garland or other items. Do you have your Christmas cards? Do you do them? E-cards CAN be an inexpensive way to send greetings or try an email newsletter to family and friends with pictures for a cost saver. If you want cards, like I do, my church family exchanges cards each year, I will either pull out cards that I bought at the end of the Christmas season or I can begin making them now! Let your imagination soar...with children, you can let them get in on it~trace their hands, take their pictures, let them color or draw. . .there are so many ways. . .You can even print cards from the computer~just remember that ink is costly though, but if you have saved with refilled cartridges or have an inexpensive source, you will know IF cards are in the budget and in what form. Handmade decorations can be begun now too. I asked for some pine cones for decorations from a lady in our church who has pine trees in her yard. Now I have a bag of beautiful cones to use this season for a basket or other decorations.

4. Plan your gatherings. Get out the calendar and look to see when Christmas comes, planning out all the activities you already KNOW are going to occur. Does your church have a program? Do you travel or have guests come in? Other activities that occur each year such as Tour of Homes for Christmas or community productions of plays or orchestra events? Mark ALL that down now so as the time approaches you are not caught off guard, but planned and prepared. If an event is an annual thing for you or your family, put down a date to secure tickets or whatever else you might need.

5. Special clothing considerations: huh? You might be saying! But think about it. . . Many of us want to look our best during the holiday season as we travel from gathering and event~so look around now. You can even find seasonal clothing is thrift stores often after Christmas, so "shop ahead" on clothing too. If you have storage, you can shop a head for the children. If I came across beautiful church clothing for either winter or spring (Easter) I would often purchase it even if it wasn't exactly the size, but more in the size they would be given their normal growing patterns. You can figure this out, and your whole family including yourself can look AMAZING for each season by planning. Christmas sweaters can be beautiful, and if you don't knit, then if you don't find a REALLY great sale, second hand for a new~barely used looking sweater is the way to go~AND you can embellish a sweater too for a unique Christmas look. There are many options really, but if you enjoy creating, then looking for these items at a great price (remember to KNOW those prices!) is the way to go!

I KNOW~I KNOW! It's JUST July, but before we know it, the stores will be full of Christmas with ring~a~ling on the cash registers calling for our money! If we plan well, shop well, and then spend well, we won't be feeling the HUMBUG during the season, but a spirit of love, joy AND PEACE in knowing we have lived within our means and made a lasting difference to the well-being of our financial houses!

TAKE care of money, or it will "run a way!"
SisterTipster~thinking about Christmas NOW! <3

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