Monday, October 12, 2009
Eleven Mondays and Counting
"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....eeevvvverywhere you go!..." Well, maybe not everywhere you go, but there is no denying that the stores have the decorations out and the enticing begins.
The commercials begin telling our children of all the things they just can't live without. The magazines tell us that this is the best way to decorate our homes so we and everyone who enters can be in the Christmas spirit. Everywhere you turn, you begin to feel more and more like you're not a good parent/spouse/neighbor/friend...if you don't buy this and do that.
Well, let me dispel that myth!!!
We all realize that, sadly, Christmas has become so commercialized you can hardly tell why we celebrate in the first place. Except for a manger scene here and there, Jesus is consistently left out of the picture.
No one loves the Christmas season more than I do. It is truly the one time a year, when the total child comes out in me and I walk around with huge eyes trying to drink everything in.
I can also find myself falling into the commercial pit that has been dug for us.
So, for the next Mondays leading up to Christmas, 11 to be exact, I'll be sharing some things that I do to help kill the pressure and the busyness that seems to take over at this time of year.
I'll share ideas for gift giving that won't break your budget, how to decorate on the cheap, and steps to take to make sure that you're not running around on Christmas Eve all wild-eyed and foaming at the mouth trying to get every last minute thing done.
~~There are a couple of things I do throughout the year to help our Christmas budget. Now, if you haven't sat down with Jesus and your hubby and set a budget for Christmas yet, then that is the number one thing on your to-do list.
It is so easy to buy this and that for so and so and before you know it, you've spent hundreds if not thousands that you had no intention of spending.
Our bank offers a Christmas Club. This is just a savings account in which they transfer so much from our checking account each pay period into this account. You can put as little as $5 a week into this account or as much as you choose. The first week in November, the bank sends us a check for the amount and we can finish up our Christmas shopping. This really works for our family because we don't miss what we don't have and it truly is a great comfort to know that check is coming in November!!
~~I say we use this and finish our Christmas shopping because I also shop all year for those Christmas gifts.
We give gifts to each other of course...me, DH, DD and DS. We also give gifts to:
My Mom and Dad
DH's Mom and Stepdad
3 Married siblings
7 nieces and nephews
SS teachers, piano teacher...
and like everyone else, we have those last minute gifts that always seem to pop up.
Right after Christmas, I make a list, broke down into families, of who we buy for, then I begin the hunt. All year I'm looking at clearance racks and shelves, yard sales, thrift stores you name it. I try very hard to give gifts that match the personalities of the ones we are giving to.
For the 3 couples, we give couples gifts. I've thought about doing family gifts, but for now, all of my nieces and nephew are quite young and they still love the thrill of opening a gift of their very own...and honestly....who doesn't??!
I also look at thrift stores and yard sales for canning jars in good condition. These can often be found for 30¢ or less. I use these to do Gifts in a Jar. These are great couples, teacher, or last minute gifts. In the weeks to come, I'll be sharing some of our favorite ways to make this gift.
~~It's also time to begin Christmas cards. I still love to give and receive Christmas cards....the old fashioned way....through the postal service.
I love to open the mailbox and see the stacks of card in there from friends we've made over the years and family that lives too far away to spend Christmas with. It gives me a wonderful warm fuzzy to sit in front of the fire with my hot cocoa and open each card and read the verse inside and more importantly the personal note that was added.
You can usually buy Christmas cards for 50-75¢ a box after Christmas but even now, the Dollar Tree has a great selection.
Decide who you want to send cards to, buy your cards and stamps and start now addressing those cards. Just doing two or three a day will have you ready to mail those by the day after Thanksgiving!! The hardest part about this is deciding who not to send a card to. After all, you are trying to stay in budget so ask yourself if it's necessary to send a card to the nurse who was in the delivery room 23 years ago when you delivered your first baby. If you've stayed somewhat in touch over the years, maybe the answer is yes, but if you find yourself wondering if you even have the right address............
Hopefully this encourages you to get started on your way to having a calm, peaceful, true to the Reason, Christmas season!!