Monday, November 7, 2011

Jumping the gun

Some of you cringe at the thought of talking about Christmas until after you are stuffed full of Thanksgiving turkey. As for me, once Halloween is over it’s all about Christmas. I love the holiday season!

My holiday kickoff happened earlier than usual this year because I saw this – an opportunity to trade in old Christmas lights at Home Depot and get a coupon to use toward new lights. That was all I needed to go into the garage and pull out our Christmas décor (minus the tree). After all, I had to sort through our lights and figure out what sets I might like to trade in!
I got an excited flutter in my heart when I saw everything laid out all over the living room floor. Of course, I immediately wanted to start putting things up all over the house. My husband reminded me that I was rushing things and should wait until at least after Veteran’s Day, or Thanksgiving for that matter. He shut me down. Bummer.
But, being the practical girl that I am, I didn’t want to have to lug all of the stuff back out to the garage only to have to bring it back in again in the next couple of weeks. So, I conveniently left the décor sitting in a nice pile of bins off to the side of the room. I wonder if my hubby will get sick of looking at all of it and ask me to put things up just to get the bins back out to the garage? Hmmm…I shall have to test that theory.
At this moment I can reach out and touch the boxes of Christmas lights from where I’m sitting, but I’m being a good girl! I have a feeling that we’ll be stringing up some Christmas lights in the boys’ rooms very soon. They love having lights in their rooms this time of year! Once those lights go up, everything else quickly follows!  
All of this digging through Christmas stuff and thinking about lights has been fodder for me to organize the Christmas gifts. Sometime this week I hope to pull out my bins of Christmas gifts that I collect throughout the year, sort everything, and then figure out what I have left to buy. Much to the dismay of my friends, I usually have almost all of my shopping done before Thanksgiving.
My favorite time to shop for Christmas gifts is the after-Christmas and New Year’s sales. I have a couple of bins that I use to set aside and store gifts in an out-of-place spot. Throughout the year I periodically add other gifts to the bins when I come across bargains that I can’t pass up. I’m all about saving money! By stretching out the purchases over the entire year and only buying things when they are at a clearance prices, I help our household budget stretch further while maintaining a very merry Christmas for everyone.
When I find super deals on items that could be given to teachers, therapists, neighbors, etc., I buy in bulk. Even if I buy 10 of the same thing, I can personalize the bag, wrapping, or the card to make it fit the person I’m giving it to. If nothing else, these items can serve as stand-in last minute birthday presents and be used for other incidental occasions when there is little notice or no time to shop. It’s always nice to have a stash of gifts for those moments, and I can tell you that this method of shopping has saved me many times!  
One thing we started doing a year or two ago was having the boys use a communal piggy bank. We got one with a lid that adds up the value of the coins as you drop them in. After Thanksgiving we roll the coins and exchange them for paper bills to be split evenly between the boys. They use that money to buy gifts for each other. We take a trip to a store (like Target) and go through the toy section while each boy gets a turn to point out the stuff they like. Later on each boy gets to take a separate shopping trip to buy a gift or two for their brother with the money they saved. They really like to do this! And, the bonus is that we are able to work in all kinds of lessons about active listening, math concepts, asking questions, and much more.  

I will admit to the fact that last week I visited the Christmas Shoppe at Goodwill and also went to the mall to do a little bit of holiday shopping before the rush hits. I may be jumping the gun, but I’m loving every moment!
And, let’s not forget one of the hallmarks of the holiday season…the red cups are back at Starbucks! You can’t help but get into the Christmas spirit when you are served a peppermint mocha in one of those babies. That, my friends, is Christmas in a cup. Man, now I want one!    
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