Store shelves are going directly from candy corn to candy canes. There are less than two months left in 2010 and several looming holidays require attention, attendance, and acts of kindness. So much to do. So little time and money. How is one to preserve the spirit of the season and one’s holiday budget?
Now is the time to take stock of the next two months and decide what is important. Spending Thanksgiving with your family 3,000 miles away? Hosting a large gathering for the holidays? Giving out lots of presents? No presents?
Make a cup of coffee or tea, grab a note pad, and find a comfortable seat. It’s time to start planning the rest of the year.Start by writing down all the events coming up: Thanksgiving, birthdays, office party, holiday play, Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza. Which do you plan on attending?
Begin buying ingredients as they go on sale for dishes you plan to bring to each event. Last week Trader Joe’s highlighted the ingredients for green bean casserole (one of my pot luck recipes.) I put them in a special place in my pantry and will continue doing this until Thanksgiving rolls around. I won’t be frantic and go off budget grabbing the ingredients at top dollar or paying even more for ready made.
Who do you want to give gifts to? If you make homemade presents, start gathering the necessary materials. I like to make chocolate covered pretzels. My daughter makes jewelry and tree ornaments. If you aren’t the crafty kind, then how about personalized gift certificates for things like babysitting, house cleaning, yard care, or a day at the local beach. Gifts don’t have to cost money. Giving ones time or knowledge is a fabulous gift.
If you will need a hostess gift, start looking now. Perhaps you have some presents you can regift. Yard sales are a great place to pick up cool new items. I once found a brand new still-in-the-box Leatherman tool for five dollars at a yard sale. My hubby loved it. I search all year for gifts in perfect condition for a fraction of the cost. Make sure that you check for inscriptions in books. You cannot give a book with an inscription from another person. That is tacky!
If yard sales and regifts don’t work for you, start looking for deep discount items at the stores. Start stashing away gifts now. No matter what your financial condition, with planning and thought you can create a great holiday season.