I’ve been doing so well this year staying ahead of the Christmas game, I thought I might share my tips. Now, I know what you’re thinking – Christmas-ready by Thanksgiving? That’s absurd! But, trust me, kids. I’m almost done. And there’s still time for you!
Start a sneaky layaway at one of your usual haunts (Target, Walmart, etc…), and while you’re there for your routine essentials/groceries, tuck a few items away. You’ll have everyone on your list checked off without ever having to take an additional trip, and also won’t have to worry about where to hide all those goodies.
So easy, and products are added daily, but you must act quickly – items run out. I’ve been so lucky with Disney/Marvel items, toys, children’s’ clothes and shoes, and even, ahem, a few things for myself. Plus, once your PayPal account is linked, checkout is a one-click process. Sometimes the items take a bit to arrive, due to the process employed to acquire the items, but you’re always sent a notification when your shipping status changes.
Bake and Freeze Those Cookies!
Holiday cookies, I’ve found, in my ten-plus years of baking, hold up quite well in the freezer, even when decorated and/or frosted. All you need are rectangular plastic containers with covers, wax paper, and room in your freezer. You can mix up a batch during some down time, on a weekend, or after the kids retire for the night, and they’ll be ready and waiting to be arranged right when you need them! I’ve never baked during the holidays any other way.
Photo Cards and Gifts in Under 30 Minutes
Sites like Mpix (my personal favorite), Shutterfly, Tiny Prints, and Minted all allow you to create gorgeous photo cards and gifts. Many of these sites also let you create and save albums and import pictures from Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites. The process cannot get much faster or easier, and you generally have your items in hand in less than a week.
Get to Know Subscription Boxes
I subscribed to Nerd Block for my husband last Christmas, and it’s literally been the gift that keeps on giving. The box includes a (usually sci-fi, superhero, or comic book character) t-shirt in your loved one’s chosen size, along with plenty of collectibles and unique gifts. He loves it, and the kids do, too. Not a nerd? You can order beauty boxes, food boxes, and even pet-focused boxes. The possibilities are nearly endless.
Try Home Shopping
Say what you will about those sometimes-kitschy home shopping presentations, but you can order large quantities of excellent quality items for small prices – I just scored two 8-piece Lenox ornament sets from QVC for under $40 apiece. That’s less than $5 per gift, and they’re individually boxed and ready to go. Great for teachers, neighbors, hairdressers, service providers, and surprise guests. Home shopping is also great for food gifts such as chocolates and Mrs. Prindable’s apples. Best yet, you can choose the Easy Pay option, which allows you to receive your items right away, yet pay in equal monthly installments. Home shopping is a winner.
Use Credit Card Rewards
If you’re like me, you have credit card points just languishing around in your accounts, collecting digital dust. My husband and I made the decision this year to purchase gifts at sites that accept points, like Amazon.com. Sure, it requires a little creative math, and multiple transactions (for example, you can’t use American Express and Discover points in the same transaction), but you essentially don’t pay for the items at all. What’s better than that?
Think Outside the Box
You can get a remarkable number of tasks accomplished if you simply think outside the box. At the grocery store for food? Saunter down the seasonal aisle and check out what’s available. Running into the pharmacy for some face wash? If an item screams GIFT!, don’t make a mental note, just pick it up. Trust me. It’s faster. And the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you see your list getting dwindling will pay for itself. Take a tip from Michael Jordan and Just Do It! You won’t be sorry.
The only thing I can’t help you with here is wrapping. You’ll have to figure that part out yourself. But I am a big believer in gift bags. Just saying.
So, get out there (or stay in!) and go for it! You’ve still got time! You don’t want to get trampled on Black Friday, do you?