Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Only 135 Days Until Christmas!
Summer's beginning to wind down and it's about time to get the kids ready for school. It's also a great time to start planning for the Christmas holidays so that once the seaons rolls around we can take a deep beath and just relax and enjoy ourselves.
Thinking about Christmas now allows us to start stashing away gifts and making our lists (we can check them twice later), and saving us some money in the process. Here are a few tips to help you begin to prepare for this major holiday and make it more of a celebration rather than an exercise in exhaustion (both physical and financial):
1/ A Penny Saved - If you haven't opened up a Christmas Club account at your bank it's almost a little too late in the year to do so as most of them cash out during October (less than two months away). This is best started at the beginning of the year (take note for next year). What you can do to make things easier on yourself is to take advantage of some of the great sales going on right now. I had a great opportunity to buy an American Girl doll for my daughter at half price so it's stashed in our closet until December 25. This saved me $50 and is one less thing I'll have to purchase come December. Many stores are offering end of summer sales, back to school sales and, pretty soon, Labor Day sales. Make a list of anything you can purchase now and start shopping. You'll save yourself both time and money as the holidays near and you'll feel ahead of the pack as you relax and enjoy the weekend after Thanksgiving instead of feeling panic stricken because it's already Black Friday.
2/ Buy Early - If there's something you know your child wants for Christmas and you have an inkling it may sell out quickly, buy now and save yourself the frustration and desperation of trying to track down the last Wii or the last Cabbage Patch Kid (remember that drama?).
3/ Well Traveled - If you'll be traveling during the holidays it may be wise to consult your travel agent and book now. Airline fares are down and cruise prices have dropped to all-time affordability. Perhaps you could plan a Christmas getaway. If you start planning now perhaps your entire clan could exchange gifts and sing carols while cruising to Alaska at a fraction of what it would normally charge.
4/ Plan Ahead - Make the holidays easier on yourself by setting up a timeline and working backwards. Mark your calendar with deadlines. If you set goals for yourself such as when to have presents bought, wrapped or shipped, you'll be way ahead of the game and can treat yourself to a hot toddy and get to bed early instead of staying up until the wee hours after fighting the crowd at the mall.
5/ Well Fed - If you know you'll be extra busy around Christmas-time, plan to make a few extra meals and pop them in the freezer. Whenever you find yourself making a big batch of soup or a casserole, why not double the recipe and freeze half? As the festivities near and your family's schedule ramps up you'll at least know you can feed your family without having to rely on takeout. That's always reassuring.
6/ Dress Up - With the holidays come parties, open houses and special events. If you start planning your wardrobe now you won't be caught rushing around at the last minute. Take advantage of sales and purchase a few items such classic dresses, bejeweled tank tops and layering pieces that can jazz up a simple outfit. Fall clothing is starting to hit the stores and the deep, rich tones are just right to take you through fall and into the holidays. And keep in mind that sometimes just adding a special piece of jewelry or some fabulous accessories can take your staples and turn them into something stunning!
When you take time to plan ahead it'll only help to free you up later and really be able to enjoy holiday parties, tree lightings and other activities with friends and family, which is what's really important. For more tips on preparing for the holidays see OrganizedChristmas.com and make this Christmas the best ever, regardless of your budget.