These are a few ideas that I have discovered to help us when it comes to getting ready for the Holiday season….even if it is 5 months away!
1. Budget now! Even though we’ll be looking for great gifts and sales now, it is essential to put aside a budget for the holidays now. If you are a baker and love to provide goodies to friends and family, set aside a small amount of money now to cover the expenses you’ll have around November. This is similar to the “Christmas club” accounts that banks have. We just use a sub-account in our ING direct account and a small amount of money is taken out of our checking every week.
2. Pay attention to conversations! This is the perfect time to actually listen to what friends and family are saying during your talks with each other. If a family member mentions a great show that they are now addicted to, you can put that show on the list of gifts and start looking out for a deal on the box set. Dad, Uncle or Grandpa love to barbecue? Now is definitely the time to look for discounts on those items. Plus, how cool will it be for them to open a grilling gift in December? They’ll know right away that you put lots of time and effort into it since grilling season was months before. Have a friend who loves the craft but hasn’t had the time(or extra funds) to continue it? Start using those Michaels, Hobby Lobby or Joann Fabrics coupons that show up in the Sunday paper. This will be a great time to find discount and clearance items as well, since most stores want to get rid of inventory to make room for back to school items.
3. Kids can be easier than you think. One thing we used to get hung up on was getting the “perfect” gift for any kids or teens on our list. I finally realized that they are much easier to get items for than we could ever imagine. All we had to do was look at their hobbies, or better yet, what they ask for for their birthdays during that year. Activities and events seem to go over better than the “newest cool toy.” Teens love going to the movies or the local hang outs, so find out what type of gifts you can create from that idea. Gift certificates for the movies, or sign them up for a membership to the skating rink or bowling alley where they can play for free. By figuring this out early, you can reap major discounts on these types of items. Most of these places have back to school discounts or deals on memberships, so you can keep a lookout for those.
4. If you’re going to do gift cards, try a theme. I’m not a big fan of just giving anyone a gift card as a gift. Don’t get me wrong, gift cards or certificates are great, but if I’m going to go that route, I have to make a one item in a theme-filled gift. If I’m putting together a gift for a music lover, I’ll find some clearance ear buds at Target, a cool shirt or hat with music notes or a turntable on it and an Itunes gift card. You’re able to stretch the gift a bit and they will be thrilled by how much effort you put into the theme, even if it’s only a few items.
5. Summer gift wrapping items can work for Christmas! Gift bags and birthday wrapping paper can easily work for the Holidays. These items will be on clearance soon at the stores, so keep an eye out. Brown wrapping paper, solid color gift bags and cool gift ribbons will all be up for grabs, so don’t forget to look for those. Plus, you know that your gift wrapping will be easy to spot under the tree since everyone else’s will have snowflakes or Santa on them.
6. If you’re a veteran Christmas in July planner, check the house first! This has been one of my favorite things to do around October and November. Because I collect gifts pretty much all year, I sit down, open my gift Tupperware, and see what cool things I can put together right there in my house. Last year, I found 4 gifts right off the bat. The best part is that these weren’t gifts that I had actually put aside as Christmas gifts. They were just items that I thought were great and were on deep discount. That caused us to have leftover gift money at the end of the year to role into this year.