First of all, I wanted to let you know mommy is already planning for the holidays. She's been reading us books about Santa (ask me what he says, I know) and she's asking us what we want for Christmas (umm...duh anything Bob the Builder, Thomas the Train or Cars). So I kind of expected her to ask me when could she do a guest post on our blog again. Of course, me being the eldest child (hey- I'm 1 minute older then Jordan!) she knows who to ask. So here's mommy with a few tips for your holiday planning...
Here's a few ways you can help save money, time and your sanity.
1. Start planning now. Don't wait until the week before Thanksgiving and start wondering how much you need to have for gifts, meals, and/or events. Money can stress anyone out, so don't let it get you down before you even start. Plan ahead now by knowing how much you can afford to spend and/or saving even a small amount each week towards your shopping or meals.
2. Make a shopping list now. Write down each person's name that you shop for and put a dollar amount you'd like to spend by their name. This will help you stick to your budget better by seeing it as you shop. Write down a few ideas for each person on your list. It can be vague like "puzzles" or "a sweater" for each person but then you at least have an idea of what you are searching for before you get out or online shopping.
3. If you are hosting, plan your meals/events around your kids (or other kid's) schedules. This is huge at our house. There is nothing worse then getting a house full of family and friends and then trying to open gifts or eat meal after or during your child's nap or bedtime. We've made this mistake and then it leads to us rushing through everything because my kids are whining or crying or falling asleep on us.
4. Have lists of items your kids want ready for relatives--try to give each family member new ideas (if possible). This will save you the headache of 2 of everything because people got the same lists and bought the same things!
5. Check out sales and search for coupons online AFTER your list is together with ideas. If you go out shopping without at least a few ideas of what to get each person, you're going to end up spending more then you planned on. I find myself buying an extra gift for someone because I wasn't sure what would work OR I'll miss someone on my list completely...which leads to more stress on me!
6. Get your local paper on Thanksgiving so you can see all of the ads for Black Friday and get a game plan together. My sisters, mom and I always go early that morning and already know what items we're trying to get. Sometimes we'll even divide up so that we can get the deals we want without missing out.
7. If you are hosting a meal or party-plan now for the event and pick up things through October and November so you aren't strapped for time and money getting it last minute. Save the perishable items for the week of and save yourself the headache of going from store to store in search of canned pumpkin.
8. Start planning for or finding the picture you want for your holiday cards. I already have a few photos I think we could use, but I will go out for one more small "holiday photo session" to try to get a picture of all three of my kids together for our cards. Check for early bird discounts for holiday cards now-- you can usually save up to 25% off by ordering them early. Go check out Storkie Christmas Cards, I can't wait to pick something out this year! Just think...getting them ordered now saves you time in November while you're trying to get everyone's gifts figured out and planning your holiday meals.
9. Don't stress if you can't get the perfect photo for your holiday cards. Funny outtakes can make the best holiday cards. I know I struggle with this one, but each year someone sends me a really funny photo card and I tell myself "see, this is such a cute card...I need to stop stressing over a perfect photo."
10. The biggest help for me is wrapping my gifts as I buy them. I try to use the wrapping service (sometimes it can be free) or I try to wrap it that night after the kids go to bed. This not only saves you that "uh oh" moment the night before you need everything wrapped but it also gives you gifts to look at and admire under the tree!
I have a bonus tip-- have fun, enjoy your family and friends and remember what Christmas is really about. Don't forget to put Christ into Christmas.
I wrote this blog post while participating in the Storkie holiday blogging program. I received compensation for my participation. All opinions are 100% mine.