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Never too early to start planning

By on January 23, 2009

photo by webby0101
Christmas is over, and the tree and decorations are put away. Phew. But frugalistas are already getting a jump-start on Christmas 2009. Maybe you picked up a few clearance items such as gift wrap, cards or bows. Some of my readers take it to a whole new level of planning. I’ve compiled their most popular ways to prepare ahead of time to help make the most of your time and money.

HANDMADE GIFTS: If you want to make more homemade gifts this year than last Christmas, you can make at least a single gift each month. You’ll have 12 and maybe more items made before December. Popular handmade gifts are sewing projects such as quilts, totes and clothing, knitted or crocheted items such as afghans, scarves, hats, dishcloths and crafty items, such as ornaments. At the very least, you can start to gather your supplies and ideas.

SAVINGS: Set your holiday budget early. You can start a savings account and set aside a certain amount each week, or start a new change jar to help you prepare.

REGIFTING: All those gifts that weren’t quite right can be stashed away in the closet as potential gifts for others. Save containers, tins, bags, bows to reuse. Note the name of the gift giver they were from and who they might be given to.

MAKE A PLANNER: You can create a holiday binder with a calendar to break down all your holiday tasks in an organized way. It can include cleaning and organizing, decorating and meal planning.

— Food. You can start to gather recipes now and have plenty of time to test them. Make note in your planner any that can be made and frozen ahead of time, too.

— Cards. Save addresses for cards you received and organize them in your planner. You can tuck your own self stick-address labels into your planner, so it’s ready and one less thing you have to do.

— Gift lists. Start gift lists now, so when there are sales, you’re ready. Scout out garage sales and thrift stores throughout the year. You can start your own wish list for gifts, too.

— Declutter. When you do your spring-cleaning, decide what you want to toss, give away, sell or donate. Organize a garage sale, and any money made can be put aside for gifts. Organize a cleaning schedule in your planner. Break it into weekly tasks such as organizing the pantry, freezer and decluttering room by room. This can include going through closets, drawers, toy boxes, etc. Breaking up the cleaning and organizing into weeks instead of days makes the tasks more manageable.

— Decorating. Make note of any decorating ideas you liked from catalogs or magazines. Decide whether you can make anything yourself.

— Photos. Last-minute photo sessions aren’t fun and festive. Plan professional photo appointments, or take your own photos early. Gather your favorite photos from throughout the year, too.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Some people are breaking the news that things will be different for the holiday. Letting family and friends know far in advance of any major changes will make it easier for them to accept. Maybe you want to host the big meal this year, cut back on gifts, or change the usual routine.

PRIORITIZE: Often, there are activities you wanted to do and couldn’t fit into your schedule. Make a note of any movies, music or activities you missed last year. Take time to talk to your family about what’s most important to them. Find out what worked and what didn’t. You have months to plan, so listen to what they fondly remember most and pinpoint any activities they’ve outgrown or specific details that were stressful so you can make any changes.

Are you planning ahead? What are you doing?


  1. Christina

    1/23/2009 at 3:13 pm

    I started a Christmas fund this year. I opened up a savings account at ING direct online and deposit $100 a month into it. 🙂

  2. Sara Noel

    1/23/2009 at 3:15 pm

    I have an ING account, too. Same amt deposited. 😀

  3. Dreamer

    1/23/2009 at 3:58 pm

    My wife and I have started a gift fund this year. We opened an account through ING and also deposit $100 a month into it. We plan on using this fund for all gifts throughout the year, not just christmas. I also like the idea of starting a gift list now and finding those things when they come up on sale. We are always trying to figure out what to get people right at the last minute and it usually ends up being something they probably don’t want that isn’t very thoughtful. I need to keep my ears open all year this year so I can get ideas and then write them down and then if I ever see them on sale get them and that will make Christmas shopping in 2009 a breeze!

  4. vanree

    5/23/2009 at 11:03 pm

    i have bought this year 2009 cristmas gift at the 2nd hand store where i found hummel birds and also cats for less then $1o.00;one has a cat colecting and the other has a bird colection

  5. Jeanie Park

    7/22/2009 at 11:48 am

    I wanted to share my son’s and daughter’s-in-law answer to the economic turmoil this year as well as being earth friendly. This was their answer to our larger (brother & sister and their families) family gathering and exchanging of gifts. They sent our this idea in October before gifts were purchased for family members. We all had a wonderful time playing games, earning money and so, so much less stress. Will it fit? Is it broken? Do they really like it? We have 11 in my family from 6 year old to 66 years and everyone had a good time and found several things they could buy. However, this did not take the place of Santa’s visit on Christmas morning with each family.

    SANTA’S GARAGE SALE: Every family member brings a minimum of three items they’ve outgrown, gotten tired of, or just want to get rid of. Think garage sale! (You can bring more – the more choices we have, the more fun it will be!) Keep in mind the items you think other family members might like Put a price on the item (however much you would ask for at a garage sale.)

    On Christmas Eve, we will plan “activities” (games such as quizzes, fooseball, Dance Revolution, table games, etc.) that will allow everyone to earn Santa Bucks throughout the evening. When it’s gift giving time, we’ll draw numbers to see in what order we get to go shopping. For example, whoever is number one gets to choose the first item to buy. (No stealing after items are bought.) We’ll continue until everything is unwanted or gone.

    The only rule is, you can’t go out and buy anything for Santa’s Garage Sale. Homemade treats or handmade crafts are ok. Here are a few more ideas.

    Books, CD’s, DVD’s, Playstation Games, Gameboy Games, Toys, Jewelry, Tools, Baked/Consumable Items , Homemade Crafts, Kitchen Utensils, Appliances , Vera Bradley Bags, Home Décor, Electronic Devices, Office Supplies, Games, Knick Knacks, Picture Frames, Blankets, Fingernail Polish – maybe you’re tired of the color!, Camping Items, Holiday Decorations, Outdoor Items, Sports Equipment, Bags/Suitcases, Clothes you think might fit other family members, Items you have stored away to “regift” anyway

    I have shared this idea with several friends and they all wished they had done this. Since we wanted everyone to receive a gift from Grandma and Grandpa and keeping with the Garage Sale idea, I tucked a bill (all the same denomination) into a variety of items I thought they might be willing to “buy”- Jar of dried bananas, homemade cookies, Disney bag, billfold, keychain, book, etc. Then after the buying all except grandma and grandpa could bid on the items and were only allowed 1 thing to buy. Of course it was the 6 year old who discovered the money first! Since gift cards were on nearly everyone’s list all were very pleased to receive the money.


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