|HO HO HO....... MERRY CHRISTMAS|
Yes I know, it is pretty early to be talking about Christmas, and I'm not going to harp on about it for the next three months, don't worry. But with less than 100 days to go, this series of 3 posts over the next few weeks is a gentle reminder of what is coming and is just to prompt me into action and share ideas on how I prepare for Christmas and the festive season.
For me, Christmas is all about the lead up. I enjoy buying presents for people, wrapping them, decorating the tree, going to Christmas Fairs and events. It all adds to the enjoyment of the festive season. I don't enjoy tramping round the shops in a last minute rush, fretting over what to buy everyone, so as a consequence I try to get most of my shopping done well before. By Christmas Day itself, I'm happy to enjoy a simple and unpretentious Christmas meal and spend time with family members. I'm not particularly a party animal, so a quiet family Christmas is just great by me.
We're not particularly extravagant at Christmas, but we do like to celebrate the festive season and exchange gifts, mainly for the children in the family, but for some of the adults too. As a consequence it can work out quite expensive and I try to spread the cost throughout the year, rather than face buying everything in the two months preceding and racking up my credit card balance. I have done this in the past and don't recommend it to others if you can avoid it, as it can mean paying off Christmas credit card purchases throughout the year and obviously paying interest on the money owed, making presents even more expensive.
This year, I have tried to spread the cost by buying some presents, cards, wrapping paper, etc. in January during the sales and throughout the rest of the year. I do this by utilising online sales and any good offers I see when out and about shopping. So far this year I have managed to purchase all Christmas cards needed including individual ones for close family members, wrapping paper, and quite a few small gifts for some of the children and adults we buy for. Many were bought in the January sales when they were heavily discounted or there were 2 for 1 offers on some of the gift sets left over from Christmas. None are things that will go off or out of date/fashion, so should be perfectly good to give this Christmas. By doing this I can often afford to buy everyone better quality gifts rather than buying less with my budget by paying full price nearer the time, when they are sold at a premium specifically for the Christmas market.
This year, I have also managed to buy quite a few stocking fillers for Little Bird too. As she is an only child, I guess she might seem to get a lot at Christmas, as she has no siblings that need to be bought for, but the main reason she seems to get a lot is that I manage to buy things at good prices and so she actually does get quite a bit for the money I spend. I tend to set a budget for smallish gifts such as books, cd's, makeup, jewellery, clothes and other small gifts that I think she might like. Her main present comes from Santa of course and will usually be worth a similar amount.
As Little Bird's birthday is not long after Christmas, I tend to buy gifts with both events in mind and then divide the things I have bought up, some for Christmas, some for her birthday. This works quite well as few people, me especially, have much money in January and thinking ahead like this saves expense and stress. I also often buy things for her birthday party ahead of the time if I see anything suitable and then store them away until the date itself even though I'm not actually sure what we are doing for her party. They usually come in useful at some point. Fortunately, Little Bird is pretty easy to please and is usually happy with any gifts she receives.
OH and I do buy presents for each other, and again we tend to stick to a fixed budget, which we spend on smallish items that are mostly practical and useful. No novelty gifts. This may sound a bit like pointless extravagance to some, but we do enjoy opening gifts on the day and why not. We do find that if we stick to what we know the other will like or has specifically asked for, then things do not languish unused in the back of the cupboard. We tend to buy one another things like books, cds, dvds, inexpensive jewellery (for me), perfume, toiletries, chocolates, alcohol, good coffee (for OH), etc. Quite predictable and ordinary things really that we each like, but don't always get around to buying for ourselves for whatever reason. To be honest, both our needs and wants are quite simple, but we do like to throw the odd surprise into the mix sometimes. Everyone likes small surprises don't they? Talking of which, I have just managed to pre-order something for OH that I have been trying to get for him for a few years now, which is a great result. I just hope it turns up now. As for me, I am just as happy getting a couple of books on sewing, a few packets of seeds or a pair of nice, but inexpensive earrings, than some expensive grand gesture that isn't really to my taste, although I do realise that it is the thought that counts. Similarly, give me a box of Maltesers over a big box of chocolates any day, it's better for my waistline.
How do you prepare for Christmas with regard to present giving? I'd love to hear your thoughts and feelings about it.