For children the time of Christmas is a time to get gifts and be excited for the fun traditions that go with the holiday season. Parents feel the same about the holiday season, but may also view gift giving in a more practical sense. Now is the perfect time to give winter wear, socks, and other needed items. Keeping the balance between the expectations of children and the practicality of parents can be difficult, but there are ways to go about doing so.
Clothes can be difficult to choose for kids. It’s even more difficult when you’re sure your kids don’t want clothes. There are a few ways to make receiving clothes fun for your children. They may have a favorite cartoon character that merchandisers have put on a shirt or coat. The colors of the socks can be bright or crazy patterns. Slippers could be in the form of a favorite animal. Make the clothing fun by tapping into your inner child and the silliness that can go along with clothes.
Give a gift that promotes your child’s favorite talent. You’ll most likely end up paying for martial arts training or painting lessons at some point. Make it a gift. Some classes offer discounts or deals during the holidays. It’s a good time to also purchase an instrument. These are long term gifts and your child will get more use out of them as well as a useful skill.
Don’t Go Overboard
While having a practical theme can be fun for you, it may not be fun for your child. For example, you may think it’s fun and practical to theme your gifts around potty training, but your toddler may not. Get a book with their favorite character and maybe some target stickers to put in their stocking. Also get something fun for them that has nothing to do with the practical theme. Make sure it’s something special, just for them.
It’s not even Thanksgiving yet and I’ve begun to feel that pressure. You know what I mean, don’t you? The lists. The shopping. The preparations, which send me back to the shopping list. It’s my favorite time of the year. But it can also be such a stressful time in some ways. There are a few things we can do to try to ensure that the season remains calm and bright, rather than harried and exhausting.
Plan Ahead. Plan in advance the kinds of gifts you would like to buy and start comparison shopping to find out where you’ll get your best deal on those items. If you find that there aren’t huge differences in prices between a couple of stores, consolidate. That is, sometimes it’s worth the few extra cents to make one stop instead of two.
Shop Online. My policy is that if I can get it online at the same price or better than what I can get at a local store, I’m doing it! Having a package arrive at my door is my ideal way of shopping. Avoid shipping costs by consolidating online as well. Most sites have a minimum purchase of $35 or $50 to avoid shipping costs. It’s the best way to shop and avoid the hassles of holiday parking and crowds.
Give. This year our family is participating in Operation Christmas Child, a project which is organized by Samaritan’s Purse Ministries. It’s a wonderful way for our children to remember that this time of the year is not simply about getting a bunch of new stuff and comparing their gadgets with those of their friends. Giving to organizations like Samaritan’s Purse provides the opportunity to bring perspective to a highly commercialized special holiday.
What do you do to maintain peace of mind and perspective at this time of the year?
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It seems to strike me every year on November 1st. No so sooner have I successfully hidden all the Halloween candy am I bombarded by commercials on television and on radio (even Pandora radio), ads on the internet and in magazines, and all sorts of signs and banners wherever I go. If you’re not careful and conscientious about what you are going to buy during this time of the year, it can be very easy to spend much more than you intend to.
Here are just a few tips to keep in mind as you wade through all the beautifully decorated, cheerful, warm demands for your money.
1. Make a List. Make a list of the items (or kinds of items) you want to purchase. Know what you want so that when all the appeals for other “great deals” come your way, it won’t matter. You don’t actually save money when you get a “steal” on something you don’t need. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that if you’re not trying to save money. But I can’t imagine why you’d be here at ThriftyDivas.com if you aren’t trying to save money.
2. Comparison Shop. Before making a purchase on something labeled as a “sale” or “clearance” item, make sure you know what a good price is. My daughter has a favorite organic breakfast bar she likes. We get it for about the same price wherever we go. One store advertises that if you buy an entire box of any of the bars they sell, you get a 10% discount. I planned on doing that (since the other stores that carry the same item don’t offer the bulk discount.) But when I saw the price of the bar and calculated the discount, I realized I was getting a better deal to buy the bars individually at the stores that don’t offer a discount. Know your price points!
3. Decide on a budget. And stick to it! You are more likely to come up with a realistic budget and stick to it if you also do #1 and #2.
How do you keep from over-spending at this time of the year?
We are days away from Halloween. If you don’t have a costume for yourself or your little one, chances are you can get a pretty good deal on one right now. (As a matter of fact, Walgreens has some costumes on clearance and a $5 coupon on page 11 of their coupon book. So, you could actually score a free costume if the price is right on the clearance costume of your choice.) If your favorite store doesn’t have costumes on clearance yet, just head over there on Saturday morning!
Have you considered shopping for Christmas during these Halloween clearance sales? You should! Think about it. How much do your children love to play dress up? Right now, my daughter dresses up whenever we are home. She even asks if it’s okay to wear her princess dresses when we go out! Boys love it, too. In my daughter’s class yesterday, one boy’s “show and tell” talk involved a Ninja Turtle costume he put on. He even showed us a few of his Ninja moves. Costumes are not just for Halloween.
It’s not just costumes, though, that could make good holiday gifts. How about accessories? Capes, swords, tiaras, and costume jewelry all make fantastic gifts and stocking stuffers. Candy might also be a possibility if you don’t mind the Halloween colors or characters. That may simply depend on how old your children are. Older ones may care; I guarantee that the younger ones won’t.
So, when you pass by that Halloween clearance aisle this week or scan the online deals at a popular website, take a second look with your Christmas shopper eyes. That dress, that cape, and that sword could put a huge smile on your little one’s face on December 25. All you need to do is hide it for two months!
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Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday; and, after Christmas sales are my absolute favorite sales! For me, post-Christmas sales are not just a time for me to buy extra stuff at a discount. No, it’s a time to stock up on things I need or will need next year at 50-75% off.
Here are some of the things I buy on the day after Christmas:
1. Wrapping paper. Have you noticed how much wrapping paper costs?! When you think about how quickly it is torn up and discarded, it seems like a shame to ever spend any significant amount of money on paper…even though the thick, fancy, shiny paper is so nice! I can’t remember the last time I bought wrapping paper at full price. I buy it after Christmas and just hang on to it. It’s easy enough to store. I usually just put it in my closet and pull it out when it’s time to wrap all the presents.
2. Christmas Cards. If you use boxed Christmas/holiday cards, this is the best time to buy them. I used to get in line at a local Hallmark store and choose from a fabulous selection of cards at 75% off. Sometimes ribbon and tissue paper is on sale too.
3. Christmas Decor. I usually evaluate what I felt like I’d like to add or noticed that I needed to replace on our tree or other Christmas decorations around the house. So, I have often bought indoor and outdoor ornaments, lights, stockings, paper goods and other Christmas decorations are all cheaper than they will ever be after Christmas.
4. Paper Goods. Two years ago, I bought a package of Christmas decorated paper plates that I thought would come in handy the following year. I ended up using them for the Christmas cookies we gave out to our neighbors. They were the perfect size and adorable. I have also bought baking cups decorated for Christmas at 50% off to use for the muffins we make around here all year round. My family doesn’t mind the green and red; they actually like it
What do you shop for after Christmas?
Preparation can save our family money during the holiday season. We save gas by not going back and forth to the store. We save on all the extra impulse buying we would have done. Last, but not not least, we save on time that we can then spend on eachother. Here are a few ways to prepare for Christmas.
I like to get candy and little dollar store toys as stocking stuffers for Christmas. Stocking stuffers don’t have to be fancy. They could be batteries for the toys the kids are getting, chapstick, or even socks. We use them to keep us occupied while waiting our turn to open gifts.
It never seems to fail during the holiday season that Christmas comes and I have forgotten an ingredient I need for dinner, or baking. I feel bad about making store employees work during the holiday, but have been thankful they are open. This year I don’t want the guilt, so I made a list of what I need and bought it a few days ahead of schedule. Making a list helps me get everything in one trip, but keeps me from over spending.
Tape or Wrapping
I hate running out of wrapping or tape when I am in the middle of trying to get gifts ready for under the tree. I usually do my wrapping on Christmas Eve after the kids go to bed. That means I’m getting these items after 9 pm at night. It’s not fun to run errands that late on Christmas Eve. Instead I get four or five dollar rolls of wrapping from the dollar store and three rolls of tape. I keep it in one spot, so it isn’t lost and I’m well prepared for a night of wrapping.
What’s on your Christmas Eve checklist?