Summertime and the living is easy…it may seem strange to start planning your gifts for Christmas when you are still slathering sunscreen on your kids but it is a sure way to take significant stress out of your holidays. I’ve compiled six sure-fire things you can do this summer to make this your best Christmas yet!
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1)Start Saving Money
Christmas (and the money you need for gifts) can sneak right up on you. Now is a great time to start squirreling away some money Here are a few simple ideas to make sure you are ahead money-wise when the Christmas carols start playing.
Set aside a certain amount of money each month
After going through your budget, you can designate a certain amount of money from your paychecks to go into an account each month. It’s best if you have an overall budget amount to begin with so you can divide it up evenly among the next few months. However any money you can put away will help, even if it is small!
Put any extra cash into an account for Christmas
A bonus from work? Money from a yard sale? Change the kids found under the couch? Put it in an envelope/jar/account for Christmas
Micro Invest with an amazing app
This is the high tech version of #1 and #2 that makes saving money SO easy! Acorns is the easy way to micro-invest. In less than 5 minutes, you can set it up so that each purchase made on your bank or credit card is rounded up to the nearest dollar and invested. It might not seem like much but those pennies and quarters add up quickly. You can also set recurring investments (daily, weekly or monthly) or boost your account at any time with a few dollars (or more!) . Another really cool feature is called “Found Money.” There are over 200 brands that have partnered with Acorns. When you shop through them you get either certain amounts of money or percentages of what you spent put into your account. All of this awesome investing costs between $1-3 per month. It is a great way to have a lovely fund ready for Christmas shopping. If you refer a friend (and open a Spend account) you will also get $5 added to your account. Sweet! PLUS when you try out Acorns using the links above you will automatically get $5 added to YOUR account. Try it out, you will love it!
2) Make a master Christmas gift list
In a notebook or on your phone, somewhere, start listing out all of the people who you want/need to purchase a gift for. Don’t forget people like teachers, neighbors, and co-workers. Now is also a great time to consider family gifts. I wrote a post about why you should do a family gift exchange and some great ways to do them. I love family gifts because you get more bang for your buck and they are FUN! Check out some great family gift ideas here (and more are a-comin’!).
3) Observe and Listen
Summertime is a great time for moms to observe and note the things that your kids are interested in. Notice the books they pick out at the library, the shows and movies they watch, the types of games they like to play, the outdoor toys they are drawn to…all of these things can help you come up with great gifts that your kids will love. You can also experiment and introduce things to your kids and see if their interest takes off. Try a science experiment. Your kids like it? How about some STEM toys. Try an art project. Your kids love it? Art supplies! Check out different books at the library…astronomy, origami, illustrating, cooking…what do your kids love? Write down different things they are interested in on your master gift list and use them as a jumping off point to encourage their budding interests.
Summer is also a great time to ask questions and get great info from grown-ups about things they might like as a gift without arousing suspicion. At the next family gathering or phone call, think about asking questions like, “What hobbies/activities did you like when you were younger? What did you always want to try, but never got to?” Write these on your master list, and start thinking about great gift ideas to go along with these.
4) Start Saving Ideas
Now that you are thinking about gifts, you need somewhere to keep your ideas. My favorite way of storing gift ideas is on SECRET Pinterest Boards. They are the best! It is so simple to save a great idea and have it easy to access and make or purchase. If you are an old-fashioned paper and pen kinda person you can designate a special notebook to keep your great gift ideas. I have TONS of fun gift ideas in my Pinterest Boards…you can follow them here.
5) Keep an eye on Sales/Clearance
One huge advantage of starting your gift ideas in the summer is taking advantage of sales and clearances. Check out the clearance on summer toys, and even use those toys for summer themed Christmas presents. Heading on a tropical vacation after summer? Grab some beach toys and towels on clearance!
One of my favorite types of gifts to give is a “year-round” gift. It is the gift that keeps giving all year round! For example, pick up doormats on clearance (for each season) like I show in this housewarming gift post. You could also pick up holiday decorations on clearance throughout the year (for example, centerpieces) and give a gift of decor.
Of course my favorite place to grab Christmas gift deals is Black Friday. I used to be a hardcore Black Friday shopper but as things changed at the brick and mortar stores and online stores started competing, I now do the majority of my shopping on Amazon in my pajamas. Make sure to follow my Facebook Group Gift Giving Made Easy to see all of the great deals (and ideas for who to gift them to!).
6) Begin DIY Gift Projects
I love to choose at least one DIY Christmas gift each year (this is my current max capacity with young kids). What I don’t love is trying to finish the gifts during one of the busiest times of the year! If you can choose your DIY gift projects during the summer, you can get them finished up long before Christmas recitals and parties and relieve tons of stress. I have lots of DIY Gift ideas like this set of hand stamped towels and this DIY blanket pillow and more coming every week. (Remember to follow my Pinterest Boards to see new fun gift ideas!)
I hope these tips will help you get ready for Christmas and help this Holiday be your best one ever. Which tip do you want to get started on first? I hope I can help you along the way.