It's that time of year again.
Actually, I start thinking about it mid summer.
No, not back to school....that's old news now. They've been back a whole week ;)
I'm talking about the "C" word.
Yep...I'm thinking about it...Christmas.
I said it.
Yes, I start thinking about it mid summer. It's been bred into me to think this way. My grandma starts Christmas shopping on Boxing Day. I have a cousin that sends out email or facebook reminders on the 25th of each month as to exactly how much shopping time we have left. My mom buys things all throughout the year...or buys too much for one occasion, like a birthday, (another thing she shops for way in advance) and so she stores the excess for Christmas. My mom, my grandma and my dad all asked me to start thinking about Christmas ideas when they were here last weekend for Makenna's birthday.
Once my summer holidays are over and school begins, I move into Christmas shopping mode. I start paying closer attention to what people are saying, paying closer attention to sales, what's in the flyers, stuff like that. A couple of blogs that I follow had posts this week on beginning their Christmas shopping preparations, so i was glad to see I wasn't alone.
Karen from Hamilton, over at Abundance on a Dime, wrote yesterday about her "gift cupboard", a place where she stores items away all year long as she finds them at a good deal, and then when a birthday or other special occasion comes up, she can quite often find something appropriate in there. I do something similar, although my items do not come from yard sales. I suppose if I found brand new items at yard sales I would do that, but that never happens to me. Just in the last couple weeks I came upon some great end of season summer outdoor toys on clearance. I picked some up for my house, but i think I will give it to the kids either at Christmas or maybe even at Easter.
Sears had a sale in the outlet area of their website at the end of August - I had a 25% off coupon and I had an unused Sears Giftcard that I applied to my purchases as well. I got Makenna some school clothes as well as a few items for Christmas, including Christmas Pajamas that cost me a whopping $2.96. I decided to get another set for The Christmas Bureau. Each year Jodi takes all of her daycare kids there to donate an item to help families in need. I personally usually choose to donate clothing for older children, as through my profession I know that they run out of clothing, especially for the teens, way before they run out of toys.
One of my new favourite websites http://www.simplyfrugal.ca/ is one of the best Canadian sites I have seen for advertising a huge variety of coupons, discount codes, freebies, etc that I would otherwise not have known about. Just today it posted a coupon code for 15% off at The Children's Place, 15% off flower bulbs at Home Depot, and a good deal for women's and girl's leggings. I love that this one website covers so many different things.
Part of my plan this year is to also give food as part of my gifts to certain people. I love to bake, and my dad and brother especially love to be the recipients of my baking. This works out well for me, as I find them extremely diffcult to buy for. We have also been doing some canning here, which may work its way into Christmas gifts as well this year.
About a month ago I started making lists for the 4 of us, of items we could use or would like. I know my mom and my grandma are going to start asking anytime now, so I am ready. I have also started writing down specific ideas I have in mind for those on my list...writing it down so I don't forget, and then if I see a specific item at the right price I can pick it up right then.
Perhaps the best thing I have done to support my Christmas shopping this year is sign up for swagbucks. Yeah, I know, you've heard me go on about them before, and that's fine. But seriously, in the few months since I started my swagbucks account, I have already earned over $25 in gift certificates for Amazon.ca. My original plan was to use them towards books at Christmas time. Everyone likes books, books are a great gift...but then last night I got looking, and I can use my gift certificates toward Nintendo DS games, Wii games, CDs, much more than just books. This made me even more glad I have swagbucks. I won't get everything for free, but I will get a pretty decent discount. All just from hanging out on the internet.
I do need to take a minute here and thank my biggest referrals, Sheila, Barb, Amanda and Jennifer. They signed up for swagbucks too after reading my blog, and the amount of swagbucks they earn affects the amount I earn. I am doing well partly because of them, but they are doing well on their own. One of my friends has only had her account for a month or two and has already earned amazon gift certificates of her own.
By the time I am ready to order, in late November, early December, I should have a nice sum of gift certificates applied to my account, all thanks to a little pre planning. (Imagine what I'll have next Christmas!)
Click here to learn more and get your own swagbucks account and remember, the most important thing to do is to download the toolbar. You'll get 30 swagbucks just for signing up. Once you have your own account, get a few friends to get their own accounts (swagbucks shows you how) and you will be off and running in no time. You don't have to refer other people, but you'll get your gift certificates faster if you do.
Something else I have done over the years is clip articles/pictures out of magazines showing the "how to's" for various homemade gifts. I have started looking through that file, compiling ideas and determining what will work for me.
For the last few years I have went on a weekend shopping trip with the women in Jeff's family to do the bulk of my shopping. We have been to the The Prime Outlets in Birch Run, Michigan, Niagara Falls, New York and Grove City, Pennsylvania. Due to a work conflict this year I will not be making that trip and so will be doing my shopping closer to home. I have a few favourite places in London, the above mentioned work conflict has me in Toronto for 4 days with a coworker who looooooooooves to shop and I plan to do the rest around home and at home, in my kitchen.
I work best with a plan, and lots of time. So, the wheels are in motion, my eyes and ears are open, and the plan is coming together.
For the record, there are 104 days left until Christmas.
What about you? How to you tackle the "C" word...the shopping part I mean?
homemade Triscuit bites
2 hours ago