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?