Thursday, August 23, 2012

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat

Okay, so I don't really know about the geese getting fat, since Andy has yet to let me follow my lifelong fairly new minted dream of being a poultry farmer, but I do know that Christmas really is coming. I don't mean to be an alarmist, but you guys, the most consumer-ist holiday of all is a mere 16 weeks away. That boils down to just four months. How did that happen?!

I know, I know, you're probably going "Whoa there, four months is still kind of a lot of time." And you know, you're right. But the thing about the holidays is that they have a tricky little way of sneaking up on us and this year, I'm not going to let that happen. 

I'm not sure what got holidays on my brain. Maybe it's the fact that there's been a little autumn nip in the air the last week or so (although yesterday, the temp rose to 88 degrees, which I felt was highly unnecessary), the shortening days, the holiday gift guide planning I see going on at some indie blog/businesses, or maybe it's just that I bumped into an acquaintance last week who, when she heard about my temporary second job, said "well, Christmas is coming."



Considering that procrastination has always been my BFF, the holidays pose some issues for me. My freelance/contract workstyle also means that my income fluctuates drastically from month to month, from week to week. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it pours, sometimes it dries right up into a drought. And December, inevitably, seems to be an income drought period.

But you know what? I'm tired of hyperventilating every time I think about buying Christmas presents. I'm tired of looking at my gift giving budget and determining that I have enough money to get everyone a sock. Not a pair of socks, mind you. Just one. You may remember that back in January, I resolved to start up a Christmas fund.  Even on January 1 of this year, I knew I wanted 2012 to be the year I get my act together for the holidays. Here's how I'm going to do it:

#1 Save and Budget

Since January of this year, I've been contributing $10 a week to my Christmas fund. It's been a very painless way to slowly save up for the impending holidays and by the time Christmas rolls around, I'll have $500 in the bank specifically designated for presents and other related expenses. For me, the hardest part of Christmas is figuring out nice, meaningful gifts on a shoestring budget. By being an intentional saver all year long, I've managed to make my shoestring a little fatter this year without feeling any pinch.
 
"But Ada," I hear you say. "I haven't been saving for the holidays since the start of the year like you . . . how is this tip applicable to me?"

Here's the thing, Christmas is still 16 weeks away. If you saved $25 every week up until Christmas, you'd have $400. If you could manage $100 a week, you'd have $1600. Wow!

#2 Making A List, Checking It Twice

You know how they say about life, it's hard to get anywhere if you don't know where you're going? You could say something similar about your Christmas shopping list.  If you don't know who you're shopping for, it's hard to set a budget. By drawing up a preliminary game plan for your Christmas shopping (yes, now) you'll be able to scope out the best deals on items and start actually buying presents months in advance.

#3 Do It, Do It Now

There are plenty of people (mostly Andy's relatives) who aren't on my official gift buying list, but who we'll end up exchanging gifts with. That's partly why I can a shit-ton quite a bit of jams, sauces, and other food products during the summer months. Plaster a bow onto ones of those jars and you've got yourself a lovely homemade present. And will all the hard work of chopping, stirring and canning months behind me, it feels like a very easy, but still nice gift to give.

I'm a big fan of homemade presents as a way to save a penny or too. But if you decide you're going to knit everyone on your list scarves for Christmas on, say, Pearl Harbor Day, you're going to spend the next 18 days knitting like a mad person, stressed out, and wishing you had more time. So if you're planning to go the handmade route for your presents this year, now is the time to start assembling supplies and making the items. Trust me. Or at the very least, start putting some thought into the gifts you might like to make and/or give. It's not too early to start scouring Pinterest and Ravelry for cute ideas!

Anyone else planning for the holidays yet, or am I the only nut job out there planning this far in advance? Any other tips for making the holiday gift giving season full of win this year?

 

8 comments:

  1. You've motivated me. I'm getting ready for Christmas.

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  2. I have been thinking about this lately. And two years ago I gave most of our gift exchangers a small gift baskets with some jam, chocolate, coffee and some homemade treats - they were a hit! I'm thinking I'll do this again, and I'll likely make my fabric buckets to gift them in. And with a few more canning adventures to happen in September I'll have lots of canned goods, and come December I'll make some goodies!

    Last time I did this I was a little pressed for time, but as I've already started planning it out I'm hoping it will be a smoother process this year!

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  3. Christmas? Christmas? I'm still getting over the shock of seeing Halloween and Thanksgiving things in the store already!! YIKES!!

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  4. X-mas? No way. But becoming a poultry farmer> Yes, yes, yes
    Maybe not goose-wise, but I so would love to have some chicken. Maybe I should tell Santa...

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  5. 16 weeks? That's all? Stupid reality. I like your $10/wk Christmas fund idea. It's just to sensible, easy and DOABLE. But since I didn't do it, I better get on the $25/wk program!

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  6. I"ve been planning ahead lately for fall birthday gifts for people (and one christmas gift). I keep track of ideas for people or things I already bought them all year long on todoist so that I can remember things for later birthdays and conserve my money until then (or purchase it without forgetting about it). Also, I started my annual christmas ornament gift craft when I was home after surgery this summer and need to get going on "phase two" !

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  7. I really like your tips and I need to take this advice to heart. I am a notorious procrastinator - usually dashing out for wrapping paper on Christmas Eve. So right now I am going to start making my list. Kids are just gone back to school and 16 weeks will absolutely fly by.

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  8. Procrastination and I have a love hate relationship.. I love to put things off but I hate the fall out of doing so :)

    I love that you wrote this because even in the San Diego sun, I can feel the fall approaching and its made me start preparing for and thinking about the holidays.. And I am always a last minute girl.

    Maybe Im just ready for the crowds of tourists to go home and I think that getting ready from Christmas will somehow send subliminal messages to them that its time to back up off our beaches and go back to Arizona lol :)

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