Get a Head Start on the Holidays
Christmas is supposed to be one of the most joyous, happy times
of the year. But why do so many of us find ourselves stressed out,
doing too much and not finding time to spend with loved ones?
This year, decide to do something different. While you may not want
to think about Christmas now, a little planning can't hurt! Here
are some painless ways to start preparing now:
- Get out your decorations and sort through them. Throw out old
lights that don't work, ornaments you don't like, and take an
inventory and what you have and what you need.
- Jump in the car and go garage sailing! You may find great
- Save that cash. Even if you have to open a new bank account,
making it your Christmas club account, do it. Each week, deposit
your loose change, rebate checks, gift money, and any cash that
you didn't expect to receive. Over time, this will add up! To
increase your savings even more, consider having a small amount
of your paycheck direct deposited into the account.
- Decide what you want. Every year, we're asked what we want
for Christmas and a lot of times we are clueless (except the
favorite wish list item, win the lottery!). This year, avoid
getting gifts you don't want by giving those you exchange with a
list of items you'd like. To give the gift giver choices, keep
the dollar amounts at various levels. Also, be specific with your
list, including store names or web site URLs.
- Christmas is a tasty time, filled with all kinds of great
food. Instead of trying to make it all, get out your recipes now
and decide on your favorites. Do an inventory of the ingredients
in your cupboards and stock up on what you need, when you catch a
- Don't be afraid to scale back. If you don't like giving gifts
to your cousin's sister's brother, because you've always given
gifts, write them a note or e-mail and explain you are cutting
back this year. They may be relieved too. Be sure to send them a
nice Christmas card in December.
- Gift box it. Do you have brand new items you received as
gifts, but you don't really want them? If so, put them in a
sturdy box, label who gave it to you (so you don't re-gift back
to them!), and collect items throughout the year. You may also
want to watch for sales and clearance items to add to the box.
- Spend some time brainstorming cheap alternatives to gift-wrap
and tags. A cheap and clever way to label gifts is to cut up the
decorated side of an old Christmas card, punch a hole and tie
with ribbon. Also, create tags on your computer and print out as
many as you need. Gift-wrap can be substituted with festive
plastic bags, decorated boxes, etc. Just use your imagination!
- Buy some gift cards. Once a month, buy a few gift cards to
stores in which you know you'll be shopping (such as Toys R Us).
By using gift cards for your shopping, the amount you can spend
will be limited. However, be careful that the cards don't have
These are just some ideas to get you started. This year, make a
commitment to spend less, do less and enjoy the holiday season.
|by Gail Morrissey
Source: Vibrant Life Magazine Nov-Dec 2002.