Can you sense it? It’s pretty hard to deny that Christmas is coming. We’re already on Week 4 of the Holiday Countdown!
Last night I was amazed by the number of homes with their holiday lights turned on, and I even caught a glimpse of a fully decked out Christmas tree or two! My husband says it’s great that people are getting in the holiday spirit, but it’s just wrong to have it full out already! I have to admit it’s a little early for me, too, but I try to live with the “to each his (or her) own” philosophy.
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How did I do?
Plan your gift buying. I updated my Christmas Gift Planner I created on my computer a few years ago to include all the people I plan on giving gifts to this year, as well as an amount to spend on each. As well, I included a miscellaneous amount for those unexpected gifts such as holiday party hostess gifts or little thank you gifts for neighbours who shovel the driveway, etc. I made my planner in MS Word, but Excel would work well to do automatic calculations. I like being able to look back at previous years to see what I’ve spent, in addition to making sure I don’t give the same type of gift over and over again!
Do your homework. This was the week of several Friends and Family events and I was able to make a few purchases from stores that don’t typically have sales on everything. For instance, I had my eye on these owl bookends. On Friday I got an email for 15% off, so I snapped them up. I just love how they look! (Okay, so they technically aren’t a gift. But I still see it as doing my homework before buying!)
I jotted down several gift ideas I have for people on my list and did some searching online. I recorded some of the online shops that carry the items and signed up for a few new email updates. If you’re worried about giving out your email address, I suggest creating a new one used only for promotions and that sort of thing. You could create one in gmail or ymail and check it once a week or so. That way your regular inbox isn’t bombarded with offers.
Consider handmade gifts. I am all about matching the gift to the personality of the individual I am giving it to. For instance, my husband’s aunt (who is a very dear friend of mine) loves crafts and baking. She is someone who appreciates the thought and work that goes into creating something. Every year I try to make something to add to her gift because I know she will truly love it. One year I made chocolate covered caramel pretzels (like the big ones you can get at Starbucks) and I think she thought she’d died and went to heaven. She didn’t want anyone else getting into them so she put them in a safe place for keeping. A week later she phoned me and asked if knew where she put them because she couldn’t remember! A couple months later I got a phone call…”Shauna, I found the pretzels!” Too bad they weren’t fresh anymore!
This year I have a few handmade gifts up my sleeve. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone on my list, but I’ll be posting some of these creations I make at a later time. I’m busy gathering supplies and I’m going to start making some of them this week. Here are a few I’m considering on my Handmade Gift Ideas board on Pinterest.
Decide on your cards.
Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I still love receiving cards in the mail from friends and relatives. Some are photo cards, some are carefully selected mass print cards, while others are handmade or computer-generated. There are several options that caught my eye this year, but I especially like cards that relate to people’s situations.
If you had a new addition to the family this year:
Or maybe you were married or engaged this year:
Love this one if you are a family of hockey girls:
I usually buy a box of cards, but this year I’ve decided to do something a little different (if you remember from week 2). Here are a few options I’m considering:
I just love how easy it is to add your own photos and create a personalized message to send out. I haven’t finalized my decision, so I guess you’ll have to wait and see! I will post the card I select closer to Christmas for everyone to see so that I don’t ruin the surprise for family and friends now. If you’re thinking of ordering from Tiny Prints, check their promotions page before making your purchase!
Set a date for your party or open house.
Schedules start filling up very quickly this time of year. If you’re planning on hosting some sort of get together, you need to set the date and send out invitations to your guests as soon as possible. Although I love printed invitations, this time of year I like to send out an email invitation. It’s easy to keep track of replies and most people respond within a day or two. I always like to follow up with a phone call if I haven’t received a reply within a week.
There are several options for doing this, but one of my favourites is Evite.
Create your music playlist.
There is nothing that gets me in the holiday spirit more than great music. I created a Christmas playlist a few years back and add something new to it each year. There are a few particular artists I’m fond of. If one of them releases a new album, I usually buy it from Amazon when it comes out. Otherwise I just download individual songs I preview and like on Itunes.
Some of my favourites are:
I have admired Michael’s music since hearing it back in 2003. That year he included a bonus Christmas CD with only 5 songs, but the new album has 16. That’s a whole lotta listening!
What are some of your favourite Christmas songs? How have you been preparing for the holidays? Please leave a comment or shoot me an email- I’d love to know!