Friday, July 31, 2009

Holiday Helpers

As much as we don't want to think about it, the holidays are quickly approaching. Before we know it, our Fall decorations will be out in full force and then of course CHRISTmas will be here. So with that in mind, I thought it would be a great time to start thinking ahead so that our budgets aren't hit full force by being unprepared. Here are a few holiday helpers that I thought were worthy of mentioning...even though we have heard them before. *grin*

1. Grocery shop the day after Thanksgiving...while others are out frantically fighting the Black Friday sales, take advantage of the grocery stores. Shopping is usually less harried and hurried, and you can take advantage of the markdowns to help stock the pantry and freezer for those December entertaining days. Those turkeys that didn't sell before Thanksgiving are now marked way down...most times less than the original "sale" price per pound prior to the big day. Anything that has a "sell-by date" that wasn't sold by Thanksgiving may show up, discounted, the day after. Now would be the time to stock up for an inexpensive CHRISTmas dinner. (This is also a good tip to keep in mind for the day after CHRISTmas shopping too.)

2. Get those gift cards now...for yourself that is. Each paycheck, as you are able to, start buying gift cards to places you know you normally shop or plan to shop for your gift buying. Try and limit the number of places you have to go to, that way you save time, energy and gas. As you buy the card(s) add a little to the balance as you can. Come CHRISTmas time, you are already set with your shopping money. This way if you are a little short on extra cash for gift giving, you don't have to worry about're already covered. Best of all it eliminates unnecessary credit card debit.

3. Make your budget early...don't wait until December to figure out how much you want to spend for gifts, or worse yet ~ go into the shopping season with no budget at all! Figure out what you 'really' need to spend and then challenge yourself to go under that budget if at all possible. This is where the gift cards come in handy for helping to keep track of your spending. By all means, DO NOT GO OVERBOARD on your spending. It doesn't matter what someone else spent, spend beneath your means. The thought is what matters not the price. For those that think the price dictates the care and love given, well they are looking in the wrong place anyway. Don't fall prey to other peoples view of finances and gift giving.

4. Make it instead of buying it...try giving the gift of yourself instead of the gift of the mass merchandiser. Make gift baskets with homemade goodies. If you do home canning, then start during the summer and as you harvest and can your tomatoes, or jellies...make a few extra to use for gift giving. Gift mixes in a jar are always fun to receive. Don't limit it though to just cookie type mixes; if you know someone who loves fried fish, then give them a gift mix in a jar of fish fry coating for instance. Make them taste/interest specific to the receiver. A person who sews might enjoy getting a small basket full of notions, like buttons, quiting pins, a tape measure, spools of thread (that you got on sale mind you) to add to their sewing supplies. Go to the dollar store or try the flea market, garage sales or thrift store to find nice coffee mugs, platters or any other type of container that would be great to use in making up cookie bundles to give out. It doesn't have to cost alot for the presentation. You can find some rather nice, clever things to use if you just look.

5. Shop year around...when it comes to holiday parties that require gift exchanges (i.e. white elephant, secret santa, etc.) don't wait until December to buy your item. There are tons of bargains to be had throughout the year, so take advantage of them. End of season sales pop up everywhere, so take time to check them out. This is an easy and frugal way to fill that gift closet without going for broke. After all, some of these parties you know are yearly events, so plan ahead for them.

There are so many great ideas out there to help us cut down on the holiday expenses, but as good as they may be...if we don't put them into practice, they won't be of any use.

1 comment:

Renee said...

Great suggestions! Thanks.