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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Countdown to the Holidays :: {Sanity and Money Saving Tips}

The first rule of holiday planning is, you don't talk about holiday planning... the second rule of holiday planning is, you don't talk about holiday planning...

Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner.  Since I have an almost-one-year-old stuck to my hip most of the time (I’m chasing her around the house the rest of the time), I need to start my holiday planning a little earlier this year to maintain what little sanity I have left.

Let’s face it: between shopping for gifts and planning family get togethers, we expend a ton of brain power and funds between October and December.  Add in the fact my younger twin brothers’ birthday and Lily’s birthday are around Thanksgiving; and Jim’s birthday, his mom’s birthday, his brother’s birthday, my birthday, my mom’s birthday, and my best friend’s birthday are all in December… I have a TON of gifts and parties during these months, so I HAVE to stay organized and be frugal as much as possible.

Here is my holiday countdown, which includes both sanity-saving and money-saving tips and ideas.

Make a checklist.  
Keep it in a notebook in your purse, as a running email that you send and reply to yourself, or as a list in your smart phone.  I am way beyond the point in my life when I could manage a full college class schedule and 3 job schedules in my head, all while doing homework, writing essays, reading novels, and having a rockin' social life.  These days, if I remember to brush my teeth before rushing off to work, I feel successful.  So I make lists.  About everything.  Especially party and holiday planning.  

Don't spend big money on centerpieces - make your own!  
If you need to buy some supplies to get your crafting juices flowing, buy them from thrift stores or from the dollar store!  On Thanksgiving, collect some colorful fall leaves from your yard and put them under a sheer table runner (which can be made from an inexpensive piece of fabric gleaned from the thrift store).  For Christmas, pick some bare branches (you need to prune your trees anyway) and spray paint them gold, then stick them in a vase and hang small shiny and glittery ornaments from them.

Clip coupons in the Sunday paper and in the grocery store ads.  
Coupons for holiday food stuffs abound this time of year.  I know that every year we make green bean casserole, so I know I'll need to find a coupon for french fried onions and cream of mushroom soup.  There are always coupons for stuffing mixes (for those of us who don't make it from scratch - who do you think I am, Martha Stewart? *wink*), cranberry sauce, etc.  Just remember to take them to the store with you when you go shopping.  Maybe you can paperclip them to your checklist. *smile*

I do my Christmas and birthday gift shopping all year round.  
I have a special drawer for gifts, and before I do any shopping around the holidays, I delve in and see what I've squirreled away throughout the year.  It saves me a lot of headache fighting the holiday shopping crowds!

Shop online!  
Hit up Etsy for some awesomely unique gifts!  Amazon has awesome prices on just about everything, and free shipping on most items to boot!

Shop for wine ahead of time to save some money!  
Beverages and More (a beverage chain in California and Arizona) has a 5 cent wine sale several times a year - for selected wines, you buy one bottle and get the second (of the same wine) for 5 cents.  I purchase my Thanksiving and Christmas wines (both for meals and for gifts) at the 5 cent wine sale, and I save a ton of money!  Check out their website because apparently they can ship wine to other states, and the sale is happening NOW!  Awesome!  Oh how I wish BevMo did a 5 cent beer sale...

Make sure to take family group photos at every get together.  
Almost every camera these days has a timer, so make use of it and capture some memories. 

Order your Christmas cards online!  
I LOVE personalized photo cards (both giving and receiving), and I am super excited to find the perfect Christmas card for Lily’s 2nd Christmas.  This year, I fell in love with Tiny Prints.  I used them for both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards, and they were such a hit with Lily's grandparents!  I’ve already got my eye on a couple card designs, which I will share with you soon!

Find excellent holiday recipes ahead of time.  
Email friends for their faves or look on the internet.  Print them out and keep them in a folder or inside your favorite cookbook.  When it comes time to do your grocery shopping, pull those puppies out and use them to make your list.  I’ll be posting two of my favorite holiday recipes on SIMPLE in November, and I’ll link to them here.

Don't stress!  
When I start to get overwhelmed, I always remind myself how calm I was when my wedding flowers were delivered, and they were half dead... (true story!)  I didn't let that pathetic excuse for a florist ruin my day.  I just sent my maid of honor to Trader Joe's to get whatever flowers she thought were pretty, and we made due.  I remained calm and had a memorable and beautiful wedding day.  If I can get through the biggest event I've ever planned (by myself, no wedding planner!) without freaking out, I can get through any holiday.  The key is to remind yourself to relax and have fun.  You only live once, and stress isn't worth spending too much time on.  So just breathe, grab a glass of wine, and smile!




  1. I do #7 before the previous Christmas I am so ahead of the game :)

    And Amazon has amazing sales after Black Friday.

  2. You are SO much more organized than I am! LOL I am doing my shopping early this year since I am due to have a baby right around Christmas time, and I definitely need a checklist! Thanks.

  3. Yay for BevMo!! My hubby's bday is always around Thanksgiving, so that makes it extra busy. I know how you feel!

    debbie m

  4. great tips! I love Amazon & shop all year, too! Glad I found this today, with the holidays upon us. Thanks!


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