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Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's Christmas time...What?

Organizing Christmas...almost everyone I know simply dreads the holidays. It's the gifting that takes the joy out of the holiday season, in my opinion. I'm in it for the baking and caroling...I want to get the gift stuff taken care of as quickly and painlessly as possible.

I picked up 2 gifts this week. I found new sneakers on clearance for the toddler, and new jeans for my daughter. They do not need these items yet, but the price was right so my Christmas light bulb went off in my head. *Bing*

We follow the 4 gift rule in our home. For those whom are not familiar, I learned this wonderful idea from Heather over at It's a poem:

Something you want
Something you need
Something to wear
Something to read

This concept has saved me loads of headache, heartache, time and money! I explained to the kids that we are so fortunate to have a large extended family that gifts unto our children quite generously. We had to scale back on the number of objects coming into our home. Thus the 4 gift rule was born for all gift giving occasions. From birthdays, to Easter, to the Holidays, our children know to expect just 4 gifts from mom and dad.

Something you want tends to be a big ticket item that we wouldn't dare accept from family. A Game boy, a Power wheels, or some other shiny new ridiculously expensive item that we feel the child will actually use.

Something you need is usually socks, shoes, a coat, or whatever smallish item they need replaced.

Something to wear is an outfit of moms choosing. My secret is stalking Wal-mart like a hawk several months in advance. I am very luck to have 3 stores close by me that mark clothing down to $1 on final clearance. Last year I got my daughter Max Azria/Miley Cyrus jeans, a T-shirt, and scarf for $3 total. For her Birthday this year she received an OP jean skirt, OP tank top, and OP flip flogs...again for just $3. When I find clearance I stock up. At $1 per item you cannot go wrong. If by chance the child doesn't fit it seasonally I can resell it for at least the $1 at yard sale time, or donate the extras to a local charity.

Something to read. This one has been fun for the kids. We have 4 avid readers here. When my daughter became a Twilight reader I had it easy for about a year. She received a book for each holiday from the series. We've also done a years subscription to National Geographic kids magazine, a Teen mag, and last birthday I just bought my daughter 6 magazines that all had Justin Bieber on the cover.   

I start my Holiday shopping around June-July. My goal is to be done with shopping by December 1st. Period. I usually get their need, wear, and read gifts well before Halloween. Once they decide on the want I watch for sales, and coupon offers every week on those 4 items.

We signed up for points rewards on our debit cards with Chase Bank, and every time I use my debit card as "credit" I receive points. 4 points per dollar gets us about $200 in visa gift cards to use for the big items around the holidays. That is such a great thing to have!

I use a spiral notebook to "Simplify and Organize Christmas"

I use a page to make the gift lists for the kids. I check things off as I buy them, and make a note of what I bought just in case I cannot remember by the time comes to wrap! I use another page to write down details of every holiday event, party, etc. Dates, times, attire, just the adults or the whole family, etc.

I use another page for secret Santa drawings so my husband and I can keep track of who we drew in the drawing and what gift ideas they gave. I also checkoff things as I buy them.

I staple new recipes I want to try for the Holidays on pages of the notebook so they don't get lost.
I also recommend you staple and envelope to hold receipts to the inside of the front cover of the notebook to make returns easier.

I use several pages for Black Friday lists. I love shopping black Friday. I don't shop for Christmas gifts. I shop for birthdays, for the home, and just to score deals without the pressure that if I miss out on a deal someone isn't getting the gift they want. It's a crazy day of shopping, but yes...I find the savings really worth it. It is all in your mindset going into it!

So, get yourself a cheap spiral notebook. Many stores will have them on sale for $.05-$ .10 each soon for back to school time! Happy planning :)

One last note-If your Holidays are completely unorganized and you just feel really at a loss, you might check out the Fly Lady's Holiday Control Journal.

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