Yes! It is that time of year for me. Actually I Christmas (and birthday) shop year round, picking up items as I see them for family and friends, but the bulk of my Christmas shopping is done in September, October, and November. Not only is it more economical and less stressful to shop ahead, it is also much more pleasurable. My goal each year is to have all of the shopping done by November 30th. We take the month of December off from school, and we spend that time wrapping presents, making handmade gifts, baking cookies and bread for gifts, visiting people, hosting a variety of holiday parties and just enjoying all of our holiday decorations. I do NOT want to be in WalMart or the mall during the month of December!
Shopping ahead requires some organization. When December rolls around you will be asking yourself 3 questions:
1. What did I buy?
2. Who is it for?
3. Where did I put it?
I keep a spiral bound notebook that I have titled, "Christmas". This is about the only thing that I don't do on the computer. At the beginning of each new year I write the year at the top of the page. Until about August or September, I just write down each item as I buy it, how much I spent (to help me stick to the budget), and who it is for. When I am ready to complete my shopping, I begin a new page. I list each person I will be buying or making a gift for, leaving the appropriate amount of space between names (more space underneath each of my children's names than other people). Next I look back over the past years entries to make sure that I don't buy my sister in law a pewter bowl every year! Then I transfer the items that I have already bought to the correct page, and check it off. I list ideas for all of the other people. As I buy or make an item, I simply check it off, or list it then check it off.
The older children and I usually make gifts for all of their teachers, coaches, and their friends. I'm not going to share what this year's handmade gift will be, but in the past we have made things such as covered journals and stationery. I decide early in the year what the gifts will be, and I buy the necessary supplies as they go on sale at Hobby Lobby. In December we are ready to craft!
As you shop ahead, you need to designate a space to store the gifts. I use a corner of my storage room, but a shelf or corner in your clothes closet, a shelf in your hall closet, or even your attic will work as well. Just put everything in one place so you won't forget where you hid it. Or record the hiding place in your Christmas notebook.
Other things I record in my Christmas notebook are a list of ornaments I buy for the children, menus for parties, what foods I take to holiday gatherings, and what I serve for Christmas breakfast and dinner (really only the dessert is different each year).
I will post more of my December ideas as the time draws nearer.