My Childhood Christmas
I have to admit that growing up, Christmas was HUGE in my family. And as an only child, my parents wanted to make it very special for me, so in addition to our special traditions of decorating the tree and baking cookies with Christmas records playing (they still play records), going to church, going to Christmas shows, driving around looking at Christmas lights, and singing Christmas carols together, we were generous with the gift giving. Not just to our church and community, but to each other. I made a Christmas wish list two months before Christmas so my dad (the gift shopper in our family) could plan and buy things little by little for my mom and me, and enjoyed the anticipation that leads up to Christmas Eve and Christmas morning when we did finally open our gifts. It was FUN! And it should be!
Now in my early 30s, married, and with 2 little ones, I look back with fond memories at all those extravagant Christmases, but can’t imagine spending much money anymore. Not only can we not afford much, but getting gifts just isn’t as important to me anymore. (Honestly, I keep telling my husband that all I want for Christmas is a CLEAN HOUSE! And I do mean it.)
But I want the magic to be there for my kids as they grow up. Not in the form of dozens of expensive gifts, but of course, in the memories we make as a family.
For gifts, all year long I shop at thrift stores and rummage sales. While I wouldn’t give a worn out, used teddy bear to my children, I HAVE found many nice, new toys at the thrift store that are perfectly acceptable as Christmas gifts. What I do is this: Throughout the year, I buy toys at thrift stores and rummage sales that my kids will grow into (like games, books and electronic toys they’re not old enough for yet) and clean and store them for future Christmas and birthday gift giving. In addition to these, I PLAN ahead, watch sales for the items I want to buy, and buy things little by little until Christmas. This avoids also any last minute shopping craziness.
How to Have a Great Christmas for Less
Now that it’s early November, there’s plenty of time to plan a successful and frugal Christmas:
1. Check out the catalogs that you’ve already received in the mail or newspapers. We’ve already received toy catalogs from Kmart, Mills Fleet Farm and Toys R Us. Be sure to look for coupons inside! Toys R Us has a coupon on the back for a Free $10 Gift Card with your qualifying purchase of $100 or more through November 24th. So look for any that expire soon.
2. Shop at thrift stores. On Veterans Day, Thursday, November 11th, Savers is having a 50% off clothing and linens sale. Go early (7am) for the best selection!
3. Make lists of whom you are shopping for. Write ideas for what they might like – or just ask them (depending on who they are).
4. On Black Friday, which is November 26th, if you don’t want to deal with the crowds, plan to shop online. I did this last year and got all the good deals I needed without leaving my home! Stores offer GREAT deals online the day after Thanksgiving…usually the same deals in their sale flyers PLUS free shipping.
6. Plan, have a budget and stick to it. There will be plenty of temptation to spend more but DON’T! You’ll just regret it later. Focus on what matters.
7. Make a shopping list of items to buy AFTER Christmas when Christmas items are on sale. Last year I bought decorative items for our home including a new pre-lit Christmas tree for a fraction of the original price. This year I can look forward to putting it up and decorating it with my family. If you can wait to buy something until after Christmas for future Christmases, do so.
8. Sell things online NOW. Do you have stuff you want to get rid of that people would buy online? List them NOW for the busy shopping season. I think half.com has the lowest fees for when you sell an item, but amazon.com and ebay.com are great, too. This is a great way to make a little extra money to use for Christmas.
Do you have ideas for a Frugal Christmas to share? Please post them! Thank you!!!