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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Christmas in July: Prepare Now for a More Affordable Holiday

Amy Hannold
247Moms Frugal Living Editor
Here in Washington, we’re having “September Weather”.  It might be easier for me than for some in the midst of a heat wave to begin thinking about Christmas.  No matter what the weather outside, there are things you can do this summer to ease your upcoming holiday spending.
An “Organized Christmas” Makes for a Happier Holiday:
The first place to stop when you’re thinking about Christmas in July is. http://christmas.organizedhome.com/holiday-grand-plan
Though their “Grand Plan” printable calendar does not begin until August 28, you can start today with your strategic buying of sale items now and breaking the calendar tasks into smaller projects.  They have other planning sheets and inspiration for a less-stress holiday you can look forward to.
Check out their “Rudolph Club” also, where on the 25th of every month, they devote some time and planning to Christmas.
Back-to-School Sales Mean Great Gifts and Stocking Stuffers:
When sales are aplenty on markers, crayons, paper and the like, buy a few extras for December.  Not only will you have some great stocking stuffers, you’ll also be ready if you run out of school supplies.  Cute buckets filled with winter weather activities make for great gifts.
Get Your Picture Taken:
Summer is a great time to create a fun holiday photo.  Give those on your Christmas list a cheery, summery photo of your family that will be a welcome site come winter.  If you’re traveling, taking a photo of the family at a special part of your journey, as your holiday photo.  Once you have your photo, shop for a great deal on prints or photo gifts.  Summertime can be a great opportunity to find a great photo gift deals during the time of wedding and vacation season. 
Make Your Holiday Gifts Now:
When you’re in the house, hiding from the heat or waiting for warmer weather, create some gifts.  Making homemade gifts from canning, sewing, scrapbooking and other handmade gifts can be fun now, instead of trying to finish them amidst other holiday activities.
Clearances – Think Christmas!
When you’re perusing the clearance aisles this summer, look for inexpensive items that would make great gifts.  Birdfeeders, yard décor, and other items that stores will want to clearance this summer will brighten someone’s Christmas. 
Begin Saving For Christmas Spending:
Create a festive jar which will remind you of the holidays.  Toss your change and other extra funds into the jar.  Practice a little bit of “delayed gratification” by forgoing a coffee and instead, putting that money into your “Christmas Jar”.
Families:  Begin the Holiday Conversations:
As summer comes to a close, begin talking to family and extended family about holiday plans.  If your holidays include travel, start comparing prices for flights.  Talk about gift-giving options.  Be creative and consider “group gifts” or drawing names to decrease the amount of gifts you have to buy – opening the opportunity to give gifts that are more significant and focused on your selected recipient.
Research Traditions:
Visit your local library or the internet and do some research on fun holiday traditions.  One of my favorite books is “The Adventure of Christmas: Helping Your Children Find Jesus in Our Holiday Traditions”, by Lisa Whelchel.  If you’re like me, implementing new traditions takes a bit more planning than usual, so summer and early fall is the time we need.  Select a few new recipes or activities and add them to your planning calendar. 
Inspire the Holiday Spirit in Others:
When you are getting together with friends, share your favorite holiday memories.  Talk about what traditions you look forward to.  Exchange ideas and delicious recipes.  Host a “Christmas in July” crafting time, including Christmas cookies and music.  Your friends will thank you for helping them get ready for Christmas too!



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