Yes, it's hard to believe, friends. Christmas is just 10 weeks away!
Sorry for the reality check, but we're planners, and we like to plan ahead for such things. A. and I had a conversation last week about how we've already asked sisters and sisters-in-law for niece & nephew wish lists. The best deals come early, generally in November, so we're gearing up for Christmas shopping already.
I've followed the Simple Mom blog for a while, and I'd like to reintroduce you to the series over there entitled 12 Weeks to a Peaceful Christmas. It's good stuff, encourages readers to tackle one thing per week, and is logically planned out. Just what we need!
Last year my family agreed to downsize when it comes to gift giving. Gifts for 8 adults and 4 kids on one side of the family stretched our budget 2 years ago. So once again we've all agreed to exchange adult names in a drawing at Thanksgiving when we're all together. Each adult will give a gift to one other adult, so 2 adults per couple instead of 8! And each couple will give gifts to all the kids.
Here are some tips that work for me when it comes to gift buying and planning.
- Prepare a spreadsheet that fits in my purse. One niece and two nephews have already given me their wish lists, and I'm adding those items to a one-page Excel spreadsheet I update each year with names, ages and wish list items. We budget for a certain amount per kid, and if I can score deals by buying early I get more gifts for each kid. I usually end up buying most gifts on the internet, because I can compare prices and score free shipping when I plan ahead. However, it's still helpful to have everything on one page when I do go to actual B&M stores. It also forces me to check things off and consider people "done". In that way, my one-pager provides visual accountability so I don't forget and overbuy for folks.
- Educate myself on the gifts. Since my nieces & nephews are all different ages, I have to educate myself on their interests and gift requests each year. For instance, my niece told me the name of a toy last week that I'd never heard of before. I asked my sister for more info, did a Google search, and now know what to look for when I'm in an actual store.
- Try to buy used when possible. Last year my oldest nephew wanted an expensive video game. We found a used copy at the local GameStop. For preschoolers, I've bought used sets of Fisher-Price Little People toys before off Craig's List. I've gotten them for less than half the retail price, washed them up, put them in a fun gift bag or box, and then bought a second gift for the same kid because the first was so inexpensive. The kids don't seem to care!