Seen here is the only stocking I ever personalized for anybody, and now that he’s been out of the military for almost a year Greg is definitely going to want a new one.
So what can you do three (and a half) months out that will actually be useful preparation for Christmas? Well… a lot, actually.
Save Your Budget by Spacing out Purchases
Christmas supplies are already popping up everywhere. At the dollar store you can get a roll of wrapping paper, a bag of 22 bows, or a fancy Christmassy gift bag for $1. Hypothetically, you could spend a few dollars a week for a month and have all of your wrapping paper, tags, bows, ribbons, and tape tucked away for Christmas before it’s time to carve pumpkins.
This counts for presents, too. If you already know what some of your gifts will be, start buying them. $100 each in September, October, November and December is a lot less of a budget strain than $400 in December. This also helps you avoid price hikes and shortages. Last year I wanted to buy the boys new electric toothbrushes for their stockings, and every other parent in the city had the same idea the same time I did. Plan ahead, beat the rush! PRO TIP: Have a large box or bucket (in a secret location, of course) to collect presents in and make a list for each person with the presents you have bought for them. It kind of negates the purpose of spreading it out and preparing early if you forget that you’ve already bought so-and-so’s big present and buy them something else. You can even wrap them as you go (save bows for later to prevent crushing) to avoid the Christmas Eve wrapping crunch.
Take Some More Time for Thought
Image via Wikimedia Commons
By starting your preparations early, you give yourself more of that precious commodity: time. We may say ‘it’s the thought that counts,’ but how often have you caught yourself in the “Gift” aisles in late December, looking at the fondue sets and pre-wrapped desk puzzles and wondering if you can get away with it? (No one? Just me? Moving on, then…) Or maybe even worse, how often have you turned to someone and just grilled them for a list of things they want?
Spending time with someone, we can usually get an idea of things they want, need, or would like. How does it make you feel when someone remembers something you said you would like or gets you something you actually needed without asking you straight out? Loved, right? That says, “You and your needs are important to me, so I paid attention.” If you start listening early, you too can prepare gifts that are an excellent fit.
You Can, Too, Start Your Baking
Image via Wikimedia Commons
On my last post Mauri commented that she never gets her baking done, then joked that it’s too bad she can’t do some of it ahead of time. Guess what! You totally can. You may already know that you can freeze homemade bread for about 3 months, but did you know you can also freeze raw cookie dough? And for 4-6 months, no less! How much easier would it be to say, “Sure, we can make some gingerbread houses!” if all you had to do to get started was thaw the dough? For me the answer is, “A lot.” It would be a lot easier. In fact, given that I’ve never made gingerbread houses with my kids, I may have to do that this year.
But let’s say you don’t have a lot of freezer space in which to stockpile dough and baked goods? What can you do to prepare? Cookies in a jar are a popular gift at Christmas time. Why not make up a bunch of your favorites for yourself? If you end up not using them to bake with, you’ve got a bunch of gifts all ready! It’s a win-win!
What do you think, guys? Do you have any favorite preparation tips or traditions?