Monday 15 December 2014

All Things Christmas [Part One – Planning and Shopping]

Anyone who even remotely knows me will tell you that I am a bit Christmas-obsessed. It is my favourite holiday/time of the year and I go all out. I start my decorating as soon as Halloween is over (this is no joke, I actually start on November 1st) and will have my Christmas Cards done and mailed as soon as the American Thanksgiving is over. Most years I am finished shopping by the first week of December with packages having already been sent out and gifts wrapped. My Christmas crazy extends into many elements – planning, shopping, baking and various traditions.

The leaves may still be on the ground, but the Christmas decorations are being put up! 

I think that planning is one of the main reasons that I enjoy the holidays so much. With a clear plan I can ensure that everything gets done by a reasonable date and actually spend time having fun with family and friends. Before the Christmas season is upon us, I spend a little bit of time updating my lists of whom I am buying for and setting budgets. I use the mGifts app which has been a lifesaver! It lets me set up people and budgets and I can easily track what I get them (and what I have gotten them in previous years) and track the status of it using categories like need, purchased, wrapped, shipped, ideas and archives. While it doesn’t exactly keep me in budget each year it definitely helps ensure that I am keeping track of money spent and gifts bought.

I also make lists in terms of my Christmas cards. Ideally I try and start working on them at the start of November. While this may seem early, there were a few years where I had them all done and ready before the 1st of September. That was a bit much so I now wait until at least the end of Halloween. I spend a few evenings at the kitchen table listening to some Christmas songs while I write out my well wishes. I have also cut back dramatically on these going from sending out almost 200 cards to about 90. I keep track of who sent cards back/acknowledged them and keep that in mind for future years. My Christmas Card shopping has become a bit of an addiction on its own – every year before and after Christmas I stockpile boxes and boxes of Christmas Cards. I am a sucker for the cute designs and anything that sparkles! This year when my mom and Nanny needed cards, they didn’t bother buying them – they just picked from my selection!

Brian needs a Beer to help prepare for the Christmas Card Pile he has to sign.
This wasn't even all of them that year! 

I also start my baking early. I love Christmas baking but learned the hard way how little fun it can be when I am rushing to finish it within the last few weeks. Plus the prices shoot way up closer to Christmas. Now I start narrowing down my recipes, stockpiling supplies and bake 1-2 things each week. I freeze them and usually assemble treat boxes a few days before Christmas which are given out to family, friends and co-workers.

My Holiday Motto!


Ideally, I tend to Christmas shop all year round. When out and about I will keep my eyes open for gift ideas and pick up a few things here and there for people on my list. In previous years I have done a large chunk on Black Friday and used the Thanksgiving Holiday to ship out gifts to Brian’s American family members. I am very much a deal-oriented shopper and will pick up things at various outlet malls and sales I encounter. This is allowed me to find some amazing designer products at reasonable prices. I used to leave my Christmas shopping until the last minute but stopped doing that once I was working at retail at the local mall. The last thing I wanted to do before/after or on my day off was walk around the mall! I also found the closer Christmas was the more unhappy and rude fellow customers and employees were. 

So now, while I may run out to a store or two during the last two weeks of Christmas it’s always for a specific item with a specific plan in place. Brian on the other hand is completely the opposite and leaves all his shopping until the 22nd-24th of December. It must be a guy thing as my dad and brother do this as well.

Plus, getting my shopping done early means more Starbucks dates with this guy! 

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