Never too early to start planning
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?