Saturday, October 26, 2013


     I know it's too early for many of you. You may be mad at me for even mentioning it, but you'll be thankful I did if you keep reading.

     Last year I wrote this similar post on my other blog about early Christmas shopping. I have used all these tips, and they have really helped us to have a more budget friendly, less stressful, and more meaningful gift giving season. 


     I have some things that I just want you to think about regarding the holidays and gift shopping. When you mention Christmas shopping before Halloween, people want to hit you, or send other people to hit you, but I don't care! I hope these tips will help us all save money, give us time to find purposeful and personal gifts for those we love. I want to help you make the season less stressful and more enjoyable, because the hard part is already done. Wouldn't you just love to have the stressful part of Christmas over so you can enjoy the season!? (Maybe the stressful part is to come... the part with all your family. In that case, I'm so sorry! And I just can't help you. Haha! Oh dear...)

      I like to give a quick shout out to my momma! She is the queen of early Christmas shopping! Trips over the summer, she'll come back saying she has a Christmas gift for you. I know... I love it! 
     Quick story about early Christmas shopping: One year, her early planning really paid off. She started early like always, but then God told her to finish everything before November. She listened, finished it all, and around Thanksgiving became terribly ill and needed surgery. All of Christmas she was laid up and healing, but all her shopping was done! My sister and I focused on the food, and everything went off without a hitch even with extended family coming! Moral is, you never know what's going to happen, but planning ahead often helps when life throws in the unexpected. Also, listen when God gives you those nudges of intuition, but that's for another day.

     Before I go into things, know that I LOVE Thanksgiving. It is so important to be mindful of the things we have and show sincere gratitude for them. This spirit of Thankfulness gets run over by the greed of the holiday wish lists. In our home, we value what we have and using things until they wear out. We live simply, are mindful of our blessings, and are thankful for our gifts from others and from our Father God.
     Throughout the season of the holidays, remember what you've been given, and constantly give thanks. We have so much, that we are able buy gifts for others, and even ingredients to make sweets! We are so blessed!!!! It is in this spirit of thanksgiving and responsible home living that I suggest the follow ideas for purposeful, budgeted holiday gift giving.

Why do holiday shopping now?

1. More time to decide

     When I'm deciding on a gift to get someone, I can take some time to think about what to look for, and plan ahead for what I think that person would like. I can write down some ideas, and start looking in store and online for the best prices for this item. If I see that it's on sale, I can get it then. I don't have to settle for anything, because "It's the day before Christmas Eve, and I have to get them SOMETHING!?" That's a horrible feeling!

     Also, I should mention if you're going to make something for someone, especially a knit item, you MUST plan in advance, as you need time to complete it. Knitters know large gift planning takes place around August or September, or October at the latest if you are fast and the item's not that large.

     So... you have more time, so you're less stressed, you can save money, and find more personal, thoughtful gifts!

2. Stores are LESS CROWDED!

     You know that feeling... sandwiched in amongst a shocking and impressively large crowd of people. You might start to panic as you realize that, if there were a fire, you will either become trampled or burned alive. Sounds like fun...

     Okay, I'm exaggerating. But I don't like large crowds. And I don't like that blonde b... um, woman... pushing me out of the way to grab the last fuzzy penguin blanket. And I don't like being made to feel like "If I don't grab that last one, there's no way I can give it to so-and-so." Oh, please!! If you go early, there's plenty of the item and no trampling. 

     On a side note, one year at Black Friday, my mom was pushed over, then stepped on several times. Many more unlucky folks die every year of this same kind of thing. I mean, really people? Is this what holidays in America have become!? This is so sad.

     So, you'll have less stress, less pressure, more selection, and no death by trampling! Sounds good to me!

 Just for fun, this was our first ornament, a glass nativity. It's a favorite!

3. You can plan where you spend

     As I mentioned before, if I already know even a few things I'm looking for on my list, I'm watching for sales. Or even better, I can do more planning of where I intend to go to get these things. I have time to include local shops or artists, and thrift stores!

     Local shops are great!!! Why not keep Christmas money in the local economy, spending it on quality products? And I know a few of the local artists here in Bend. They would be thrilled to be supported by you, knowing you like their work enough to give it as a gift. What a fun, unique gift idea!

     And Thrift Stores are FABULOUS!!!! They are my personal favorite gift finding place. And let's get real: Not everything we give must be brand new. Where did we get that idea? (Probably part of the American consumerism constructs created post WWII to keep people spending money.)

     Thrift stores have fun things you can't find anywhere else, because they stopped making them. I always find such unique items in them! I once found a bundle of Tunisian crochet hooks! You can't even find those in all the sizes anymore, and they were antique, and I've used them. It's fun to find gifts that you know will not be duplicated by anyone else, because this is the only one in town. Plus, the money spent at thrift stores go to great local charities, not some big corporate pocket. Maybe I'll buy all my gifts at thrift shops. (Last year, I think 90% of my gifts given were from thrift stores!)

     So, not only are you saving money, local goods help the local economy. If you go to thrift stores, the money helps local charities, and you find unique things for your unique people! Love this!!

Also just for fun, my Christmas bulb self portrait

4. Save Money!

     Here's the deal: Like most all people, we are on a budget. Isn't most everyone? That's just how it is. We live simply, and we make our priorities. So this year for Christmas, I am watching carefully how much we spend. (Yet another reason I am loving the thrift store shopping idea.)

     The great thing about shopping early, I can keep a closer eye on how much we spend, and meter it out each month or week. It doesn't become this all at once expense where we are going "how are we going to live now!?"

     Another thing, use what you have, not what you don't. Be realistic about the amount spent. If you're like me, you LOVE giving gifts because it's one of your love languages or you enjoy the look on people's faces when it's a great gift for them. These are all great things! If you're like me, you want to get everyone everything. Or, in some cases, maybe you're worried that people will think less of you if you don't get them a good enough gift. It's not worth going into deep financial debt! Keep things simple! Maybe this year, try reducing your budget even more, then saving up for next year to be a big gift giving season. How special would that be, knowing you put in that effort, and was purposeful about saving specifically for that event?

     So, a balanced, realistic budget keeps you from going into debt and having more headache! Let's be responsible with our money and focus on what's truly important.

The Penguins bring gifts to worship Baby Jesus

5. When you've got all the shopping done ahead, you can enjoy the Holiday & Christmas Season!!!

     Imagine you haven't bought all your gifts the day before Christmas Eve. You've put it off, and now you're running around like a crazy person, everything is crowded, stressful, and you have no idea what you're getting people, because you didn't plan. And you still need to wrap everything. And you need to get to that holiday party you promised your best friend you'd at least stop by for. There's NOT ENOUGH TIME!? <Panic>

     Now, imagine you bought all your gifts and wrapped them two weeks ago. They are sitting lovingly under your tree, adding to the seasons' decorations. You had enough time today to make cookies for all your neighbors, and bring some them to the holiday party this evening. You even had enough time to get ready and look fantastic! All because you planned ahead and got it done!

     I know, this seems a little idealistic and exaggerated, but this has been true in my life. I have been both of these people before in different years. I love enjoying my holiday time, having things set up, knowing I found thoughtful gifts for everyone, with everything wrapped ahead of time, decorating my tree for a week or two. I want time to plan and buy purposeful gifts, and also watch and spread out my spending.

     That's why I have already bought one gift, seriously planned several, and later this afternoon, my good friend Erika and I are going Christmas shopping at a few thrift stores. This is the second year in a row I will go Christmas shopping at Thrift Stores with a friend. Last year, my sister and I went once a week! SO much fun! I highly recommend going Christmas shopping with a friend. It's much more fun, and good to have an occasional second opinion.

     Let's remember that Christmas is not about shopping and how much you spent! It's not even really about about what you got for people, or what people got you. Christmas is about greater spirit of giving to those you love and who love you, and spending time with them. And even more, it's about the ultimate gift ever given: Jesus, God born as a baby, so he could show us how to live, and later would die to set us free from our sins. This is Christmas!      May you live in the spirit of Peace & Thankfulness well beyond the New Year!

~ Christina

By the way....  do you have ideas about early Christmas shopping or holiday money saving tips? Feel free to comment below!

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