Holiday Head Start

During these lazy days of summer I can imagine that Christmas is the farther thing from your mind! And why not? With thoughts of vacation, finding ways to keep cool and big family get-togethers filling these summer days, the sounds of jingle bells and carolers out in the snow are like ancient history.

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I want to break this to you gently, but Christmas decor will be appearing in a store near you in only a matter of weeks—if you haven’t seen hints of that already. Devoting only a few minutes each day to getting started early with your Christmas plans will come back to bless you in money saved. And you’ll have beaten a lot of stress, too, come December.

Here are some quick and easy ways to get started now!

CRASH SAVE. Once each week put $10—or an amount you find appropriate—into an envelope for a service person you will remember with a tip during the holidays. Label and seal. Then make a note in your calendar so you don’t forget where you put it.

GROUP CRAFTING. Spend an evening with three or four friends making holiday decorations. Each brings an idea plus all the materials and supplies. By the end of a very fun evening everyone goes home with three or four new items.

COLLECT. This summer as you are traveling and camping, collect pine cones, sea shells, even dried plant materials and other such items. Now you have the stuff you need to make wonderful tree ornaments and other crafty items.

STOCKINGS. Don’t sew? No problem. You can still “make” great Christmas stockings. Buy large, wooly socks (find them on sale now at camping and outdoors stores). Roll up one sock and tuck it into the toe of the other and fill up the “stocking” with little gifts. Turn the top down to form a cuff. Decorate with glue-on letters, embroidery or leave it plain.

CREATIVE WRITING. This year, determine to send out a Family Christmas letter. Throughout the year, record events and happenings in a small notebook that you keep handy and know will be appropriate for the special letter. Come December, it will be simple to write because you have all the material you need without racking your brain. Friends and relatives will be thrilled to receive such a great gift.

FAMILY COOKBOOK. One year a friend got the best gift. Her mother is an excellent cook and often cooks without a recipe. Her sister spent hours with Mom in the kitchen and painstakingly recorded the exact ingredients and measurements of the family’s favorite dishes. She  then developed them into a recipe book and gave it to her sister, my friend, for Christmas. Over the years it has become even more special—not only because her sister made it for her, but because the recipes are now recorded for both of them to pass on and to always remember their mother.

MEMORY QUILTS. If you and your kids have saved every T-shirt from every school event they ever participated in, cut out the pattern and or words from each shirt and make Memory Quilts. Use the recipients’ favorite colors for the border and coordinating fabric for the backing. It won’t be too expensive, but time consuming.

Question: How do you feel about getting started early with your Christmas planning? Some of us dig it big time, while others find even the thought of doing that somewhat disturbing! Go ahead, spill the beans in the comments below.

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  • crabbyoldlady

    Most of those ideas are very good. I do beg to differ about the Christmas newsletter. I have never been ‘thrilled’ to receive one of those. They always seem like bragfests to me, going on about how wonderful their lives were this past year.

  • Betty Thomas

    I love to prepare for Christmas and other celebrations throughout the year. One thing I do is make a note in a notebook that I always carry around with me. If one of my grandkids or other family member mentions something they’d like I jot it down. I do a lot of jams and canning in the summer and that is one of my favorite ifts to give. Everyone seems to love that. Also, I love a Christmas letter myself. Especially one with pictures. I have a friend that I have been corresponding with through our annual Christmas letters since we graduated high school, almost 40 years ago. I want to hear about their family and the accomplishments and vacation escapades.

  • MimiB

    The vanilla beans are soaking! Everyone loved the bottles of vanilla that my husband and I made last year using your directions. I’ve received lots of compliments that it’s the best vanilla my friends and family have ever used so they’re asking for more. My daughter and her husband made body scrub and my youngest daughter made coasters using tiles, Modge Podge and decorative paper.
    The very best gifts I’ve ever given were to my daughters and I don’t think they’ll ever forget last Christmas. I purchased 2 large baskets and filled each one with pictures, keepsakes and things from their childhood. I gave them items that belonged to each of their grandparents which is very special since 3 of them have passed away within the past 4 years. You truly can have a wonderful Christmas and give awesome gifts without breaking the budget.

  • Guest

    Call me crabbyoldlady2, I don’t care for the brag letters either. I’d rather take the time to talk face-to-face or in realtime (phone, online) with the important people in my life.

    • Toast Points

      Exactly. Brag letters are awful even when written by people who write for a living. Those written by those who aren’t pros are enough to make a persong gag.

  • Gehugh

    I make gifts year ’round for Christmas and I buy year ’round for the supplies I need, keeping watch for sales on the items I use in making those gifts. I am not a big fan of the lengthy Christmas letter, but for some this is the only contact I have with these people year after year, so I put up with the going-ons about the school successes, the latest ailments, the acquisition and passing of pets and the over-the-top vacations. I’m pretty sure the people who write these letters don’t follow this blog. I would think that with instagrams, e-cards, and all the social media sites one wouldn’t have the time or need for Christmas letters or even any holiday card.

  • Toast Points

    Bought paper wrap, mesh wrap, and other goodies at Christmas Store last January at 75% off. Since then have picked up small things at bargain prices. When December rolls around, I’ll only have a few primary gifts to buy. It pays to think ahead.