Retiring from Christmas Shopping

It is already August, so you know what that means. Yep, it’s time to plan for Christmas 2015. Last year I crocheted a lot of the gifts which went over really well. In fact I had this grand plan of doing it again for 2015 but starting in January working on one or two gifts a month because I barely finished. Then the months started to pass, and I still hadn’t begun crocheting gifts.

I am hoping to take my crochet ‘to the next level’ and by that I mean actually sell some crochet items. This is a big step for me because I have wanted to do this for a while but was paralyzed by fear that no one would pay me money for something I made. But that’s just silly to think that without at least trying to sell something. With those projects taking up my crochet time, I still haven’t begun making gifts, but then I had a brilliant idea. This year I plan to make Christmas as stress free as possible.

Everyone on my list – excluding my daughter (or maybe ever her!) will get money. Good, old hard cash. Gift certificates are too fussy but cash is king. I could just hit the ATM on the way to the Christmas party and be done. I might pick up some cards to hold the loot. I have bought gifts for years and stressed about more than one purchase. Most gifts are well received – or at least people seem to like it. Without a doubt they will love money.

All family will be getting money. Any dirty santa gifts will come from LootCrate goodies that we aren’t using. That just leaves a few friends to actually buy for. Yes, Christmas is going to be easy this year. Happy Holidays!

Cookie Decorating

It’s National Cookie Day so to celebrate I am sharing pictures of our cookie decorating fun we had during Thanksgiving break. This is a tradition that my husband’s family does – so we decided to start it with our own family.

Everything is set up and ready to go.

Rae chose the colors. Not so holiday-ish but colorful!

Rae demonstrates how to make polka dots on the cookies.

This is about at the point where Rae gets bored and Mommy finishes the other cookies.

Rae is a picky eater – so the homemade icing had to pass the Rae taste test. Luckily it was to her liking.

Overall we had a lot of fun. We may have to do it again over Christmas break because come January her and dad and me will be hardcore dieters.

Black Friday Shopping

There is one day of the year that I relate to hunters who get up at 4am to go deer hunting. It is the day after Thanksgivings when I leave my warm bed at 3:30am to get ready for those early bird sales. There is something magical about shopping on Black Friday. Finding that one deal you wanted is a wonderful feeling. This year even more stores will start their sales earlier like Thanksgiving Day early. Since we are not going home for Thanksgiving, some retail therapy might be good to drown the sorrow of missing our family.

Each year there seems to be a few items that I want to find on Black Friday, and usually I can make it on sales in time to snatch up these deals. Since we historically have traveled on Black Friday to visit family, I have three cities to look for Black Friday deals. Usually one of those places has what I’m looking for.

This year we are in a brand new city and state. Not sure how the crowds will be but may venture out but probably not very early. I will be doing a fair amount of shopping online and having the gifts shipped home – less we will have to bring at Christmas.

So I’m looking forward to Black Friday especially since we are in a new city with many more shopping options. Since I’m not looking for anything specific, I should be happy with whatever bargains I may find!

Black Thursday

As I was looking through the scans of the Wal-Mart Black Friday ads, I couldn’t help but notice all the sales that begin on Thursday – Thanksgiving day. Now last year they had some sales that began at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. This year they have a lot more.

Many of the Thanksgiving deals were electronics. Last year I decided to check it out since they had a lot of good, cheap movies. Well when I passed by Wal-Mart at 9 p.m., there was not a single parking spot. In fact, people were parking on the street, across the street, and in other adjacent parking lots. I just went home deciding that no videos were that important.

There are interesting items on sale but none that will get me to go to Wal-Mart. I am not sure how the Black Friday crowds are in San Antonio but there are a lot of people here – many more than where we are from so I can imagine that if there were crowds back home then there will be worse crowds here.

So I will be spending Thanksgiving relaxing. Only if I get tired of the peace and quiet will I venture out. Of course with the husband working from home that week, I may be ready to get out of the house for a while.

One Christmas Down, One To Go

This weekend we had our annual Christmas party for my side of the family. It is usually the weekend before Christmas and always feels rushed and hectic. This year – although we had a record turnout – didn’t feel rushed nor hectic. Whatever I did this year, I definitely plan to do next year. Here is how I prepared for the holidays.

Shop Early. And by early, I mean the day before the party. That is technically when I finished but that was only two gifts I had to buy. Most of my shopping I got done Black Friday weekend and online. Amazon has been a lifesaver. I got a Kindle Fire late November and it comes with a free one month Prime membership. Prime membership means upgraded 2-3 day shipping on many items. That free shipping has been incredibly enticing. I have bought more from Amazon this past month than the past two years combined. I will be getting a Prime membership.

Wrap presents early. Since I am working, I wrapped presents earlier than normal. And by wrap I mean place in a gift bag. The only presents I plan to wrap at the ones to my daughter. Everything else goes into a gift bag. It still takes a few minutes to wrap gifts but nothing like wrapping with paper. Plus getting them wrapped way before the party makes the day of the party a lot easier.

Buy pre-made treats. I bought a cake from the grocery store for a work party and took the rest of it to our Christmas party. I also bought a cracker/cheese/meat tray instead of making anything. Usually I don’t cook anything because my oven is so difficult. Maybe next year I will have a new oven and will make something – although it sure was easy to buy treats instead.

This year I made no homemade gifts but next year I plan to have some done. Work really takes a lot of time – so I will have to make items all year long to allow me plenty of time.

This week I plan to finish up everything for Christmas. So far this holiday has been way less stressful. It’s been totally awesome.

A Present Inside the Box

Here is a gift idea that is INSIDE the box – so if you have trouble thinking OUTSIDE the box, give this –

As I was getting a Poptart for a snack, I noticed the back panel. So if you are still struggling with a last minute Christmas gift, you can give food. See? It’s already got the gift tag on it. It’s sealed – so need to wrap. Just fill out the on-the-box gift tag, and you are ready to go.

At about $2 a box, I think I can take care of everyone on my list for under $30. Not sure if it would go over that well with everyone but at least I thought about you this Christmas. It is the thought that counts, right? Of course, grabbing an item off the grocer’s shelves may not require a lot of thought – moxie, yes but thought, no.

Advent

Ack! December is moving by too fast! It seems I have less time now that I am working to get everything ready for the holidays. Raegan has been wanting a way to countdown until Christmas. Of course, you can find a bazillion Advent calendars in October but never any as the holiday draws closer.

I did print out an Advent puzzle that we have yet to start. I had though about putting together a nativity – adding a piece everyday with the baby Jesus the last piece. I love nativity scenes and want to buy the Little People Nativity set. They had it before Black Friday but haven’t seen it since. Hopefully I will be able to find it or at least ask about it the next time I am at the store. It would be a lot of fun to use at home and in class.

We did an Advent calendar a few years ago that was a big hit. Not sure why we didn’t do one last year. But this year Rae is really into counting down until Christmas – so we really should be doing something to mark the days.

She is also enjoying Christmas shopping this year, too. She wants me to buy her gifts as she promised not to look in the shopping cart. Still let’s remove temptation and I will shop alone for her gifts. It isn’t like when she was one and I could buy them in front of her. Ah, the days when Christmas was easier and cheaper.

One of my goals this coming year is to make and Advent calendar app. I figure it will be a project that I have an interest in and will hopefully finish. Right now I am gathering information for it since I know I won’t be interested in researching this before next Christmas. I should use some of those ideas now to create our own Advent calendar. If I don’t act fast, Advent will be over. Why does December fly by so fast?

Black Friday Aftermath

Last week I made a plan for Black Friday. I have been looking at leaked Black Friday ads, so I knew where I wanted to go and what I wanted to buy. Since we travel the Friday after Thanksgiving, I decided to start at the 10pm sale on Thanksgiving night to save some time Friday morning. Also many of the items I wanted would go on sale at that time at Wal-Mart.

Silly me left the house around 9:30pm for the 10pm sale. As I got closer to Wal-Mart, the traffic became more congested. I noticed that the parking lot looked pretty packed – the parking lot adjacent to Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart parking lot was flooding over. There were cars parked on the grass, by the road, etc. And people were still filing into the parking lot. It was at this moment that I decided to come back in Friday morning.

Friday morning was a lot better. No huge crowd and also no huge deals left either. I was able to get a few things on my list but not nearly all of it. One trend that has developed is that Black Friday is just the beginning of good deals. Each week there will be deals. So I’m not going to worry about what I didn’t get but be glad of what I was did get. I now can mark seven people off my Christmas list.

There is still a lot of shopping to do but at least I got a good start on Friday – and with the early (ie middle of the night) start times of many sales, shopping was less crowded and stressful. The only drawback was a lot of items were already sold out. Still it was nice to actually be able to stroll down the aisles with a shopping cart.