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Get a Jump-Start on Holiday Shopping

Guest post by Jessica Miller at The Shoestring Budget

I do not like shopping when the stores are packed. I also don’t like paying twice as much as normal because of the current season. So I started shopping for my Christmas gifts earlier in the year. Like really early in the year.

Thanks to deal-posting sites like and others, I’m able to have good deals delivered directly to my inbox. I can quickly scan the list and if something pops out at me, I take a minute to decide if it would make a good Christmas gift or not, and if so, I buy it!

My husband and I have a tradition of giving a gift to each of our immediate family members on Christmas. Since we don’t have any children yet, we can still afford to do this. But that’s still eight gifts to buy in addition to the ones we give each other.

In order to save as much as possible, and still be able to bless our family members, we set a budget for our Christmas gifts. We have an allotted amount to spend on each person and after we’ve spent that amount, we’re done!

Throughout the year, I keep my eyes open for good deals on things that would make great gifts. Many times stores will run sales on items throughout the year that will also be available at Christmas for more money. By buying these early, I can save money and actually give a bigger gift.

I make a list with each person’s name on it and once I’ve bought something for their gift, I write down the item and the price and how much I have left to spend. This keeps me organized and enables me to stick to the budget we set.

So far I’ve already bought something for both my sister and my sister-in-law that took about half of their allotted amounts, so as soon as I find something for the other half, I can mark two people off the list! The best part is that I can avoid crowded shopping malls and overpriced gifts, not to mention I can experience the joy of shopping for someone else all year long.

Jessica and her husband Curtis have been married for 10 months, and are currently renting a duplex and saving as much money as possible to be able to buy a house and raise a family before long. One of the things she loves to do most is search for the best deals and coupons. Saving money has become a fun thing for her and her husband to do together. Jessica  writes about the deals she finds and tips she’s learned at The Shoestring Budget.

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  • That’s a great method. That’s what I do, too, as far as starting early and having a set budget for each person. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • joybles says:

    I was just thinking this morning that I needed to get started on Christmas shopping! The only drawback for buying early is that it’s harder to return items if someone gets a double/item doesn’t fit/etc. Something to keep in mind.

    • Andrea says:

      Having been the recipient of many clearance bargains that didn’t fit or weren’t our taste, I definitely agree. If the recipient can’t/won’t use the gift and it can’t be returned, I feel I’ve wasted my money.

      For me, buying ahead works well for stocking stuffers and things that I know my immediate family will use and enjoy. It also works well for charity programs like Toys for Tots.

    • I would have to agree that clothes aren’t something to buy ahead unless you know for sure it will be liked/fit/used – my MIL has fun shopping the clearance racks (as do I) and always buys me 3-5 shirts/skirts/etc for Christmas. I love the thought, but only one thing in the past 4 years has fit or matched other clothes I have. So I end up with clothes that I can’t use, and I have to wait until I go out of town to get rid of them since she shops the second hand stores that I could donate them to, and we have our yard sales together. I really appreciate the thought and effort that went into finding things she thought I would like, but I hate that I can’t exchange them for something that fits or would match. (One patterned skirt I love, but haven’t found anything to match it in 3 years.)

      • Heather says:

        Ha ha. I call those the gifts that keep on giving – in other words, you have to spend money to use the gift, like on buying a top to match a skirt.

    • Rachel says:

      I know some people really like the surprise of gifts, but I always tell my sister when I buy something she wants early. That way she doesn’t buy it herself (which happened one year) and she can let others know that she is expecting it.

    • Jen says:

      Absolutely! I learned that lesson when I got a shirt and pants for my nephew 2 years ago that just barely fit him and were outgrown in less than a month. Now I only buy clearance clothes for kids, and I only buy them 1-2 sizes larger than I *think* they’ll be wearing. That way at least I know they’ll fit into them some time, and with older kids they’re not outgrowing clothes so fast that it will be the wrong season. If I am buying for adults or if I’m not sure it’s appropriate, I simply buy less for my $ but make sure I have a gift receipt.

    • Andrea says:

      It’s not just clothes, though. I’ve been given lots of candles and “smelly” stuff that I’ll never use because a lot of fragrances give me headaches.

  • I do this too. School supplies bought in August/September make great stocking stuffers in December!

  • Wani says:

    I’m an early Christmas shopper too! I have bought stuff on sale or clearance already for my sisters and nephews. Saves me money and spreads the Christmas expenses out over a few months so its not a burden at the end of the year so I can just enjoy the holiday season without being stressed about last minute shopping.

  • sona says:

    My husband and I had done this since our children were small. We would start with clothes for the kids when “back to school” sales started. We wanted to finish by the 1st of Nov. We found one problem though. As the season drew closer and the fun season things became available, even if we had already finished, we were challanged to stay within budget. Now that are children have chidren of their own, I cant do it so much anymore because they want input , so I get lists, for themselves and the grands, so I cant just choose anymore. I must say it has taken the joy out of looking for just the right gift.

  • Corina says:

    I buy throughout the year as well. I start the day after Christmas for the next Christmas and birthdays sprinkled throughout the year. I have been keeping a list of what I buy family members and what I have received from whom, for over 10 years. It helps me not duplicate a gift to someone. Since I do believe in re-gifting to a certain extent, this also helps me stay out of trouble=)

  • I have been planning for a few weeks now, picking up little gifts here and there. I’ve got some great ideas on my blog for staying within budget and picking up a little extra Christmas cash along the way. Thanks for this great post!!

  • Jen says:

    I started doing this to avoid that terrible last minute “what can we get for X?” feeling, but I’ve found it really helps with the budget too. I avoid overspending at the last minute just to “get something”, and it has actually helped me be more thoughtful about gifts. I spend time thinking of my loved ones and what they might like rather than what is available right then. I have a Google document where I list all the gifts I’ve bought, who they’re for, how much, etc. It helps keep track between years too so I don’t repeat gifts and so we can give something roughly equivalent for everyone (i.e., each nephew/niece gets a check for their college and a small toy on their bday). I started this last year but didn’t use it heavily until this year. So far, I’m about 75% done with my holiday shopping and I even have about 20% of next year’s bdays done!

    My one challenge is keeping the gifts all organized though. Anyone have any tips for organizing a gift closet/storage area?

    • Suzanne H says:

      I have a section in my attic w/2 large bins that are for gifts. I write a post it note w/the person I have in mind for that gift and stick it on the items before putting it in the bin. I would love a gift closet but we don’t have any closets to spare as the ones in our house are small! I also have a rather large box under my desk at work. I keep my kids presents (and anything that might melt in the attic like candles) there. The oldest is too nosy not to! LOL

  • Good for you!

    I make the Christmas gifts.

    I’m hoping to get more Christmas sewing done early this year (but it hasn’t happened yet! I just finished sewing 2 dresses for a birthday!) The one thing that I have done is that I’ve canned lots of jellies and jams, which will be part of the gifts I give this year.

    I do start making a list in January for birthdays and Christmas for each family member of what I can make that year with what I have. For example, someone gave me some plaid flannel and some plaid flannel sheets, so I’ll be using that for pajamas for my boys this year.

    • Sandra says:

      I enjoy home-made gifts the most! I always bake banana bread, spiced pumpkin bread and lemon tea breads in the beginning of December and freeze to give as gifts to my neighbors.

  • I am starting to shop early this year too in the hopes that it will make this year’s holiday season less expensive and less stressful. It is a smart way to go!

  • Leisa says:

    Making My Own Luck, I stock up on all the crayons, markers, glue, etc., at back to school time and then make an “art kit” for birthday gifts when my kids are invited to parties throughout the year. 🙂

  • Lisa says:

    I also make a list of who I need to buy for and the budget set for that person but I decided to take it a step further this year and use my new program through evernote to make my xmas shopping even more organized. By using Evernote I am able to take a picture of the item that I bought for each person so that I am able to remember what it was exactly.

    I am the type of shopper that buys early and also the day after Thanksgiving and then a week before xmas I get frazzled thinking I didn’t buy enough so I go out and buy more and then find out I overspent. By including a picture of the item, it helps me to remember how big an item is and then puts things in perspective of what I need or don’t need to get. 🙂

    • Lisa says:

      Since I have many children bdays close to the beginning of the year – I try to get out the day after Xmas and snag as many toys as I can for a deep discount as well…makes great bday gifts for my children and my nieces and nephews. 🙂

  • Meredith says:

    I may be weird in saying this…but I like the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping in November and December. There are also some fantastic deals that pop up during that time. However, kudos to you guys for doing this. Anynway to save is a good!

    • Jessica says:

      I love that also!! LOL I buy early in the year for the family.. Then closer to Christmas I buy my kids things. Black Friday… You will find my sleep deprived butt everywhere!!!

    • Jessica says:

      I like the hustle and the bustle too. But I also like having my shopping done and walking around drinking hot chocolate or a latte and looking at the lights 🙂

    • Jenni says:

      Me too – I find that the deals were great last year during the holidays, and did most of my shopping online to avoid crowds. I am thinking now of buying for birthdays as well during this time.

  • Marie says:

    I’ve done this as well for the last few years. This year I have Christmas and Birthdays already bought for my kids with the deals from last year on Leapster 2 and Tag reader books/cartridges. We were even able to give my b/g twins a gift from their new baby sister at the hospital because of the deals we acquired! We also are able to give great toys to charitable organizations that we would never be able to other wise. And my kids look forward to this now every year.
    Shopping ahead can really help the budget. Our gift giving is a small amount but paired with sales it goes A LONG way!!!

  • Jessica says:

    We are buying for fewer and fewer each year. I get frustrated attending family functions where my inlaws extended family expects gifts, just for the sake of giving a gift. Like last year, they expected us to have brought a gift for my husband’s 17 year old cousin. They even told us they actually expected it would have been cash or a check. I was seriously put off by that. We went to see everyone, did not expect gifts for our infant and preschooler and did not bring gifts for extended family.

    This year since I quit my job to be a SAHM, we will buy even fewer gifts. Grandparents get framed 8×10 photos of the grandkids, SILs & their husbands get handmade yummies and a family game to play, and my nieces will get something handmade plus a giftcard to buy what they want.

    For my own kids, I do the something they want, something they need, something to play with and something to read. I shop year round for my own kids to pick up super duper deals. Like when walgreens has free after RR ponytail holders, I get that for my daughter’s stocking. The grandparents get my kids memberships to the zoo and science museum.

  • We’ve had our “Santa” present to our kids for 2011 Christmas since December 2010. I already have presents stashed for Christmas (and birthdays next year). I love getting good deals and being able to get my kids things that I usually wouldn’t if I had to pay full price for them. Buying ahead sometimes makes me feel like I’m not “in the Christmas spirit,” but I’m trying to be responsible and not over spend.

  • Last year we set a strict budget for each member in the family. Then I tried to call the parents to see what they recommended to buy, that way whatever gift we got would not be a waste, but genuinely used/wanted!

    Loved reading your tips! 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    I start buying for family members right after Christmas. We have a big family and kids of our own. So this makes it much easier for us. We buy for all the kids and I make cakes, cookies, brownies ect and give them out as gifts to the adults. We also have the “jammie elf” come to our house christmas eve and he leaves new pj on the door step!! You can find pj very cheap on black Friday!! 🙂

  • O. Rivera says:

    This is the first time that I’m about 80% done with my Christmas shopping. I found out that Target has clearance sales on toys at the end of July. With that I was able to get birthday and Christmas gifts for my niece and nephews. I also got jewelry at 75% off at NYandCompany for other family members. All I need is two grab bag gifts, and my husbands gift and I’m done! I also heard that Target has clearance sales on toys in January – here’s hoping! =)

  • Emily says:

    Last year I was puzzled about what to get nieces/nephews all in there teens/early 20’s. Most of my family is having a hard time in this economy. I had plenty of stocked piled bathroom items. Bought cheap gift bags and filled them from my stockpile. This year I am expanding on the same idea for those who now have their own place. Picked up wicker baskets at garage sales and planing on filling them with household items they need.

  • Suzanne H says:

    I definitely shop early. I begin on 12/26 for the next year! I keep an Excel spreadsheet of the people I plan to buy gifts for and what I purchased them. I am able to go back over years and see what I have given in the past if I think I might be giving a duplicate. I find this allows me to accomplish the following:
    1. no last minute rushing with unhappy kids in tow
    2. no over budget expenditures just to get “something” for X
    3. I can spread out the expense all year long – I generally buy about 2 gifts per month – much cheaper than 24 gifts in December!
    4. I can actually think about my purchases and get something I REALLY believe the person will like
    It really makes things more fun for me. I can also pick up cheap toys when sales/coupons are around and stash them away for Toys for Tots (and my kids too). The only thing I have found since I began couponing almost 3 years ago is there are a lot of cool deals that crop up late November/early December. So I have started planning for 2-3 gifts to come out for my kids and/or husband during that time. If they don’t materialize, it’s fine – they always get enough.

  • My family decided to just draw names 2 years ago, and it has been working out really well for us. As all my sisters were getting married, most of us are on tight budgets and we have a larger family with the spouses and kids. We decided to draw names and spend $15-20 on the one person we get, and then do handmade cards or cookies IF we wanted to do something else, and small things for the 3 grandkids IF we wanted to (like a coloring book and crayons, or a puzzle, etc. – some of us do, some of us don’t) Everyone gets something fairly nice (instead of a dozen small things,) and everyone gets to buy for someone, we aren’t overspending, and we get to enjoy the time together.
    For the in-laws I usually try to buy ahead… my husbands job is seasonal, so during the summer he gets lots of overtime, and in the winter he makes a lot less. I have to buy gifts ahead of time since it stretches my budget to even make holiday meals if I don’t plan ahead. I actually try to start picking up extra flour, butter, and other holiday ingredients when I have a little left in the budget starting now so I can have the freedom to bake bunches of cookies, etc during the holidays.

    • Erika says:

      That’s a really good point about buying baking supplies ahead. Especially lately when all of the prices keep going up!

      • Sandra says:

        I have found Walgreen’s to have great prices on baking items when they go on sale with the in ad coupon. Last year I bought 5-lb bags of Gold Medal flour for $1.50, 4-lb bags of Domino sugar for $1.79, Libby’s canned pumpkin for .99, Ocean Spray cranberries for .79 and baking soda for free after coupons. Walgreen’s has the best prices on those items of all the grocers in my area.

  • Nicole says:

    I totally agree- budgeting and planning early for Christmas is crucial! That’s why every Monday this month, I’m posting about “giving gifts without going broke” on my blog. Tis [always] the season for saving!

  • Stephanie says:

    We tend to only give a few gifts to the kids for the holidays/birthdays and we start looking way in advance (like a year+) for things we know they would like. The one year old will get a wooden doll pram in December and a few board books. The three year old will get a waldorf doll for her birthday and hand puppets in December. By shopping in advance we are able to comparison shop, use sales, Swagbucks, Craigslist, Ebay, etc… Our budget is not so large but we can stretch it by using multiple strategies. My husband’s birthday is in a few days and his two gifts were free thanks to Swagbucks!

    • Sandra says:

      I found 2 new, 2011 Green Bay Packer Christmast ornaments from Danbury Mint in the boxes, for $1 each at a rummage sale just last week. They will make a great Christmas gift for my BIL who has a Green Bay Packer Christmas Tree!

      • Suzanne H says:

        I thought I was the only weirdo that has a football tree! I have a miniature burgundy tree that I put all of my Redskins ornaments on! LOL

  • Amy says:

    My children are small so they don’t require that much. My daughter is in Kindergarten and asks for very little. So I will probably grab the one or two items she asks for closer to season. My son is 2 .5 – so he will be overwhelmed by just having the trees up. I have purchased books and a few toys for them both throughout the year.

    We have an elf on the shelf – Ellie. And she sometimes leaves things. A Christmas book or puzzle, a piece of candy or something like that. So I have also stocked up on a few little things that will bring them real joy thinking that Ellie is real. I love ordering $1 books from scholastic. Those are great Ellie gifts.

    I am big on decorations. I have swooped in and purchased trees after the season for a song. I put 7.5 ft trees in each of the kids rooms and I make themes for decorating them. I did a Fun & Games tree for son last year and wired in a ton of toys that we had. The toppers were Bert and Ernie puppets that looked like they were bursting out of the top. I wired in Mr Potato head and all kinds of things. I did angels for my daughter and purchased a beautiful angel for $6 at TJ Maxx and did all kinds of sparklies in the tree. I also purchased Christmas/ winter bedding at 90% off last year that I will bring out. I usually do the work and then let them be surprised when they go into their room.

    That said, we don’t spend a lot of money on gifts. We try to create memories for them with our family. I make sure that we have special books to read (that are both ours and from the library). We invite family over to watch Polar Express and lots of things like that. I make my own advent calendar to explain the birth of Jesus and all the symbols of Christmas. It is a lot of work but there is such joy and I am proud that very little of it is derived from gifts.

    Now, gifts for the extended family is my hairy situation this year. Half of the family doesn’t have the money to do gifts but the other half is clueless. Aaahhhh!

  • Maegen says:

    I actually have a few things in the closet from Last Christmas!

    I will say inlaws are tough! I often overspend on my fil or mil out of sheer desperation!

    My boys have also gotten more challenging now that they want bigger ticket items. They understand Christmas isn’t all about gifts, but I do miss the days when any shiny truck would do!

    Congratulations on being smart with your money at a young age, Jessica! I wish I had gotten frugal sooner in life. 🙂

  • Marty says:

    I have used this method for years. I buy stuff starting right after Christmas the year before and buy all year. I am sure as my son gets older I won’t be able to do this as much but for now it works well. I even picked up the gift cards I needed for husband’s nieces and nephews with a deal at CVS this week where I got back a $10 ECB just for buying what I was going to buy anyway. Helped with the rest of my budget. 🙂

  • melindag says:

    I agree with fellow posters o.rivera and emily: I too buy yr round for bdays and xmas, I bought tons of toys in july at target at 75%off and have 90% of my christmas shopping done.just need my parents,hubby and son. This yr I am also doing as emily, baskets out of my stockpile. Plus will have plenty for charity as well. Thank you god for all these blessings 🙂

  • Charity says:

    Great idea. The only thing I’d add is that you shouldn’t feel like you have to spend a certain amount. For example, if you budget $20 for your sister, but are able to find a great deal on a $30 item thats on sale for $15, you shouldn’t feel like you HAVE to find something else for $5 just to meet your budgeted amount.

    • Kristen says:

      This is something I’ve learned. I used to spend to a certain amount, no matter what the deal was, or spend to a certain amount of gifts to ‘keep it fair’. Now, I set a budget, and if I get a deal, the extra budget goes back into savings.

      Last year, when Walmart had iTunes gift cards on sale for less than face value, this really helped me shrink the budget spent fast! And the kids were still just as happy, with just as many songs. I hope they do it again this year. Fingers crossed!

  • Lea Stormhammer says:

    We do a small gift exchange with relatives – we draw names, so I have 4 gifts to buy for one side of the family (there would be 26 people to buy for otherwise!), and 2 on the other. We usually do a charitable donation for the adults unless they ask for something very specific, for the kids, I shop all year long for things like Legos, board games and puzzles.

    Since I have a lot of craft and sewing things I need to use up, I’m trying to make more gifts this year, even though my time is very, very limited right now. This year for birthdays, it’s pillows shaped in the letters of each of the kids’ names for the children under 12. For those over 12, it was eye glasses case and a ‘care kit’ made from old flannel pajamas that I don’t wear anymore and a couple of $1 remants from the fabric store.

    I’m glad I’m not the only “weird” one who puruses the sale and clearance areas of stores for good deals year-round though!

    Great post!

  • Charlotte says:

    I’ve noticed a lot of places are having clearance toy sales right now to make room for the coming holiday season. Both Walmart and Target have had major clearance toy sections, as well as some of our local specialty toy stores.

    I start thinking about what I’d like to give for Christmas way in advance (at least 6-9 months) so I can watch for good deals on those specific items. And I almost always get lucky. It pays to buy ahead!

  • Anna says:

    We started doing this last year because I was due with our DD in late November and I knew with an infant and a 2 year old shopping was going to be impossible. This year about mid August I hit some AWESOME toy sales at Kmart. They were “seasonal” (scooters, lego sets that were tractors, farms, Cars 2 etc) toys that were on clearance and then an additional 50% off. I was able to get both kids birthday (Sept. and Nov.) and Christmas toy shopping done. I spent $154 and saved $203!!!

  • Brandy says:

    I personally love shopping during the Christmas season, so a lot of early shopping will probably result in me double buying (sometimes my self control isn’t what I wish it was). Instead, this year, I am doing whatever I can to save up for Christmas. Aside from setting money back based on our set Christmas budget, I am doing little things like saving up Swagbucks, Pampers and Huggies rewards (hoping to get stocking stuffers) store rewards (like K Mart/Sears), and vouchers (I already have about $75 in spending money with just these!). I am already feeling much more prepared for Christmas this year without depriving myself of my much loved Christmas season shopping!!

  • Tracy says:

    I have been shopping year round for Christmas presents for years. It always makes things so much easier for me. I live in a rural area where our mall has like JCP, Bonton, and Bath&Body Works as the only real stores. So it helps to look year round. Clothes are definately something that I wait until at most two months before Christmas to get as peoples taste and sizes change. Another way to get special gifts for immediate family is on vactions (this really only works for the family members that went as well), if you pay attention many times they will see something they really like but don’t want to spend the money on it. If it fits your budget they love that it will remind them of the great vacation they had.

    • Sandra says:

      My sister and her family went to Hawaii this past July. She was so excited she talked about it for a few months in advance. I received a $10 coupon off $10 or more at Kohl’s department store and as I shopped around that day trying to find a small gift, I saw a picture frame made of sand and seashells. It was on sale for $8.99 and my coupon made it FREE. When she returned from her vacation her husband posted pictures on Facebook. I went to Target where I coudl access Facebook, selected one of the pictures her husband posted and printed it without them knowing 🙂 It will be a gift she receives on Christmas Eve.

  • Amanda says:

    Every time I see something that is a great deal I buy it. At home I have a big box and when I need a gift I pick something out of there.

  • kristie says:

    I have already finished Christmas shopping for my three oldest kids (ages 9, 7 and 4). Most everything I have bought was on clearance or from the thrift store in excellent condition! I got my son a refurbished gameboy off of and some games to go with it on craigslist (total:$45)
    I redeemed some of my swagbuck pts for Amazon gift cards and was able to buy my daughter (who is VERY artistic) a kodak easyshare camera and only paid $3..I was so excited!! If you don’t do swagbucks, you REALLY should! I have gotten over a $120 worth of stuff for free!!
    I only have hubby and a few other people on my list and I am done!! woohoo!

    Note: I try to keep a gift closet throughout the yr. for unexpected bday parties, babysitter gifts, etc..(the clearance aisle, craigslist and thrift stores are your friends!)

  • Emilie says:

    I was given a box with 52 slips of paper in it from my sister two years ago…each slip had a memory on it. I got to open one each week and smile! It was great. I made a small book for my in laws last year based on the same idea. They call me on Sundays to tell me the memory. Cheap, easy, very meaningful and it lasts the whole year!

    Another thing I did was make 10-12 freezer meals. I wrapped a paper box and filled it with the frozen gallon zipper bags on Christmas monring and gave the gift. That too lasted them a couple of months. I watched for the food items to go on sale and then spent an afternoon getting them ready.

  • Sandra says:

    As far as I’m concerned the holiday season begins the first weekend of November. It’s the weekend my sister and I have earmarked each year to get together to make our own Christmas cards and that event sets the tone and has been our kick off for the holiday season to begin for a number of years now! I’m especially grateful to have completed my shopping by this point, or at least the vast majority of it, for I utilize the first 2-3 weeks of November to wrap gifts, address my Christmas cards, prepare cookie dough to freeze, decide how I will decorate my home, etc. I wait to mail my cards out the second week of December and the frozen cookie dough is great to have on hand for surprise guests, after an winter evening outdoors, last minute gifts, cookie exchanges, and a cookie tray for Christmas Eve/Day for my family. I have a large family and try to purchase a gift for each person, even if it is small but thoughtful, and I utilize the beautifully wrapped gifts throughout my home as a large part of my holiday decorating. Each year I receive many compliments as to how festive my home looks and the best part is once the gifts are delivered it leaves very little post holiday clean up. I enjoy all the hustle and bustle of that time of year and because I have the vast majority of my shopping done I have the luxury of time to enjoy the season and all which it has to offer. There is so much to do and see during the holidays that being prepared in advance truly allows me to spend much time with friends and family, and isn’t that what it’s really all about. 🙂

    • elizabeth says:

      Wow, I love this. I always have good intentions, but end up wrapping gifts and baking on Christmas Eve. You are an inspiration!

      • Sandra says:

        Thanks! While shopping for gifts takes a fair amount of time, wrapping, decorating, Christmas cards and baking are the big ones for me. Getting things organized in advance has been the key to my enjoying the holidays.

        By the way, even though the main reason I prepare and freeze all of my cookie dough in advance is for convenience, I found it far easier dealing with a messy kitchen for one day while I put the recipes together rather than mutliple days. Plus, when I worked I would pop in 2 trays of cookies each morning as I prepared breakfast for my family. You’d be amazed at how much baking you can get done this way. Sure, the kids and my husband sneak a cookie on their way out the door and while I need to bake a few more trays because of it, I find it adds to the memories I try to create.

  • Lee says:

    My kids are starting to get older (as in 8) and they see commercials so it gets harder to buy ahead for them as they change their minds last minute. However we start early for everyone else. I don’t always buy clearance but if I see something I think works I get it. I don’t buy clothes for anyone (not even my own kids). I budget all year so when the actual season comes around I can relax and enjoy.

  • Patrice says:

    I also always do birthday shopping early. My kids have birthdays in February and May and I usually find great deals on toys right after Christmas, so I’ll go shopping for their birthdays early in January.

  • Jen says:

    I didn’t read all the comments, so I don’t know if anyone said this already. However, while I agree with buying gifts early to save money, how is it saving money if you feel like you still need to spend the whole amount that was allotted? I’d rather put the excess into savings than buy a bunch of stuff for someone just because I’d allotted a certain amount. Isn’t that the point of buying early when it’s on sale?

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