Jun 25, 2008

Start your holiday shopping now

Frugal Dad cracked me up with his post yesterday noting that there are only 185 days until Christmas. It seems kind of silly to be thinking of Christmas (or Hanukkah) in June. But it's an excellent idea.

My favorite holiday shopping strategy is to shop year round, starting with the after-Christmas sales in January. I always pick up cards, wrapping paper, ribbons, and other things that I wanted but balked at paying full price for.

I wish I could buy presents year round but we generally only exchange gifts with our immediate families and the tradition has generally been to buy what's asked for. And our relatives would not be receptive to me saying in January, "What do you think you'll want next holiday season, so that I can keep an eye out for stellar deals during the next twelve months?"

I do buy toys and books throughout the year, keeping my gift box stocked for birthdays (it seems like we're going to three or four birthday parties each month now). As I mentioned on Monday, there are some great deals on books in the Scholastic flyers that are sent home from school, so if your child's school participates, pick up some of those inexpensive books and stash them away for gift giving. (Update: Gina has a couple of ideas for getting the Scholastic deals if you don't have access to the flyers.)

I like Frugal Dad's idea of saving now (or throughout the year) in a "Christmas fund" so that you aren't scrambling to find money to buy gifts in December. If you have a big family and lots of presents to buy, you may want to propose that everybody cut back on the gift giving. There are lots of variations on this idea: only the kids get gifts; or kids get gifts from everyone, but the adults (or couples) draw hats and give and get only one gift a piece; or each family (not family member) gets one gift; Grandma and Grandpa give gifts to everyone, but everyone else's gift giving is cut back in some way. And so on and so forth. If you make the proposal now, well before the holiday season, everyone will have a chance to think about and get used to the new tradition.

What are your best holiday savings ideas?

Image credit: Amazon.com - Holiday Two-Stack by Elegant Cheese Cakes(affiliate link). It's $350 with shipping, so I don't recommend buying it, but isn't it gorgeous?


Anonymous said...

i just can't buy xmas gifts for people when its hot outside. But if i did, i would avoid technology because all the best deals and a lot of new stuff comes out around the holidays.

Camille said...

I am like you -- I have a gift box I keep stocked for random (and not so random) gift giving. For Christmas I do buy year round if I see something I know the receiver will love. I try to have everything done by October at the latest. This year since we have a baby coming in December, I'm planning to hit the post-Summer sales and be done even earlier. If I'm not too sick, that is!

The hardest part for me is to NOT give in to the Christmas sales and spend more money during that month between Thanksgiving and the holidays.

Mrs. Bargain Hunting Wife said...

I try not to get consumed with the "They bought me something now I have to buy them something" mindset, especially regarding co-workers. A nice Thank-You card will suffice. And when I'm baking, I'll make a large sugar cookies (jumbo size, frost and wrap them individually, they make nice "gifts" to go with that Thank-You card.

Chief Family Officer said...

@John - Great point about electronics. I would wait for the holiday deals on those too.

@Camille - I agree, it's HARD passing up the sales between Thanksgiving and the holidays, but it helps if I remind myself the stuff will be even cheaper after Christmas if I really want it. Congratulations and good luck with the baby!

@Mrs. BHW - You make an excellent point, and I LOVE the jumbo sugar cookie idea. It's perfect, and I'm borrowing it ;)

Thrifty and Chic Mom said...

I shop year round, but fall is great for clothes, you can get great winter clothes in the middle of fall for very good deals. Also consider after christmas for next year. As a former retail manager I often got cashmere sweaters for $10. Not only does everyone love my gifts but they look forward to the surprise b/c I don't just buy b/c its a sale I buy with someone in mind b/c its a good deal and they will love it. I have a large family so christmas is hard budget wise but last year I spent $10-15 per person but never gave a gift with a value less than $30 some way more.

Gina @ MoneywiseMoms said...

I did most of my Christmas shopping between Oct 1-15 last year. Amazon knocks its toy prices WAY down, and I bought the actual things my kids had oohed and aahed over at TRU that way. Remember the price matching at Amazon, that helped me save even more.

Basically, I found that if I waited until Thanksgiving, yes, I'd miss a few things, but by having it all done, I could relax, bake, chill out with the kids, etc. instead of running around shopping.

Anonymous said...

I've always done a Christmas Club at my bank. I've never put a huge amount in, but I always have enough to not throw off the rest of my finances during the holiday season.

Since I've always worked in a school, the school calendar has always been easier for me to follow. Beginning with the first paycheck in September I purchase 1 gift a week. This way I'm totally not breaking myself. It was much easier to afford $20-$50 at a paycheck than $100s at a time.

Of course as my family has grown with the births of my own children and the marriages of siblings and introductions of nieces and nephews this has become harder to do.

Shan said...

I like to shop through the year as well. I've also been trying to add more thoughtful gifts to the mix. A lot more things that are made by hand. The neighbours get cookies. I knit and I have a few new projects up my sleeve for this year.

I have a gift box in my closet that I tuck things away in to cover birthdays and Christmas. And I keep a gift notebook where I keep track of what I've already purchased for each person and also ideas of stuff I'd like to keep an eye out for a great deal. When you're shopping so far in advance it's good to keep organized.

Chief Family Officer said...

@Thrifty & Chic Mom - Great suggestions, thanks!

@Gina - I remember those Amazon toy sales. Thanks for reminding me! I like what you said about relaxing, that's important too!

@Jennifer - I like the idea of buying one gift per week starting in September. It's so methodical and low stress!

@Shan - I wish I could knit. The notebook is an excellent idea.