Condo Blues: Nine Christmas Time and Money Saving Tips That Will Save Your Sanity (and Money Too)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Nine Christmas Time and Money Saving Tips That Will Save Your Sanity (and Money Too)

During one of our first Christmas Eves I had a meltdown. Husband waited until the very last second to purchase and wrap gifts because we were waiting on payday (we run a cash only house with the exception of our mortgage and car payments.)

We stayed up until the wee hours of the night wrapping gifts. Wrapping gifts less than 24 hours before the paper is ripped off seems pointless. Not to mention, I try to keep Christmas Eve low key and chill time to gear up for the happy Christmas frenzy the following day. 

I knew things had to change unless I wanted to ruin every single holiday for the rest of our lives with an annual argument.

I learned if I started doing a little bit here and there throughout the year I have enough things done or know what needs to be done that my sanity and budget are saved when Christmas time rolls around. No more Christmas meltdowns in this house!

This also helps me combat Cabin Fever or, as I like to call it Boring Winter Months Where I Am Looking for Low Coast Stuff to Do So I Don’t Go Crazy When We are Snowed In Projects.
There are things  I do in various combinations and some not at all if it doesn’t fit that year that save me from reliving that last minute gift buying and wrapping meltdown every Christmas.

9 Things You Need to Do Now to Save Money and Sanity Next Christmas

1. Start a Christmas Club. If there is only one tip you follow on this list starting a Christmas Club should be it. A Christmas Club is a separate savings account where you deposit money throughout the year. The total amount is automatically transferred into your checking/debit card account before the holidays. There generally isn’t a minimum or maximum you can deposit into your account so even depositing something small like $10 a week from your paycheck will give you $520 of your own money to spend on Christmas when the money becomes available in October!

2. Start or add to a Box of Gift Boxes and/or Gift Bags. My mother and my grandmother always had a box of gift boxes stored with the Christmas decorations. I thought it was normal to have one until I mentioned it to my sister in law and she looked at me like I had three heads when I said, "isn's it in your box of boxes?"

My box of gift boxes and bags saves precious time and sanity than a mega money saver. I can blow through wrapping gifts for birthdays weddings, and Christmas in record speed because I have all of the boxes and gift bags I need at my fingertips. 

I buy clear storage tubs because it is easier to identify the bin I need. Plastic bins saved my stuff from a burst water pipe that's why I use them over cardboard boxes.

3. Start or add to a gift wrapping paper and bow box. Just like the box of gift boxes, I grew up thinking everyone had a gift wrapping box full of gift tags, wrapping paper, and ribbon like my mother and grandmother. I try to save bows and ribbon when I can and add little bits and bobs that may make a pretty gift topper such as fake flowers (I try to keep it eco on the the flower front but sometimes stuff still comes my way.)

 I eventually decided to buy a special wrapping paper storage tub when I found a large stash of discounted Christmas wrapping paper I bought and lost in our old apartment. I didn’t have to buy new wrapping paper or reuse old wrapping paper for the first six years we had our new home because I didn’t have one spot for everything. Now I do.

I bought the Honey Do Gift Wrap and Storage Box (really that's the name) because it stores gift wrap, ribbon, and bows together and fits under our bed.

4. Shop after Christmas sales with care and caution. Sometimes you can get the things you need now like Husband’s wool winter coat I got at an even bigger discount because I had to sew on a button or for later like the perfect family gift I bought for someone for 2013. Just don’t go crazy buying super mega discounted stuff you’re only buying because it is a deal. Buying discounted stuff you never use doesn’t save anyone money.

5. Make reusable cloth gift bags. Get the directions hereAs much as I enjoy wrapping a pretty gift, in recent years I ended up missing my favorite Christmas activities because I was stuck in Santa’s Little Sweatshop wrapping gifts. I didn’t have time to make cloth gift bags during the Christmas season when I first saw the idea. I made them after the holiday for the following year. This tip Changed. My. Life!  I have gifts wrapped and under the tree 10 minutes after they hit the door to the house. I didn’t miss any of my favorite activities this year and my sister in law ooh’ed and ah’ed over my gift wrap because I used velvets and brocades I had in my costuming stash. For me this life saver was a freebie. 

This tip may not work for you if you have a gift peeker in your house. Fortunately, we do not.

6. Buy holiday food (turkey, ham, cranberries, etc.) at a discount and freeze for later. Husband and I grocery shop after every major holiday to buy Thanksgiving turkeys, Easter hams, St Patrick’s Day corned beef, etc. at a significant discount because the stores are trying to get rid of their holiday stock after the holiday. I have a discounted duck in my freezer right now!

7. Make or print next year’s gift tags. I hate buying gift tags because I lazy, cheap, and hate tossing/recycling one use items. I make gift tags using scrapbook stencils and punches to cut circles, ovals, squares (whatever the design allows) from old Christmas cards.  Sometimes I make gift tags from old business cards. This year I just printed and cut out a bunch of free printable gift tags I pinned to my Pinterest Gift Wrapping board. I stick them in my gift wrapping paper and bow box for the following year.

Learn how to make my Put a Bird on It Portlandia gift tag here.

8. Start an idea list. If I am not Christmas shopping for gift year round I am shopping for gift ideas. Read my tips here. This is a time, money, and sanity saver!  I can use cash to buy gifts as I see them (sometimes on sale), have time to make them before the holiday rush, and have some of my shopping done by the time Black Friday rolls around where in perfect years I’ve finished my shopping – with cash because I used my Christmas Club savings.

9 Make all those Christmas crafts you pinned on Pinterest and didn’t have time to make for this year now during a boring snow day for next year.  I pin. You pin. How many of us actually DO the projects and recipes we pin? Do them now while you have the time! My Christmas Winter Holiday Pinterest board has a bunch of ideas. Follow me on Pinterest and I’ll follow you back!

What do you do to for a stress free holiday?

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Mary said...

Thanks, Lisa - these are good tips to have on hand. I love your phrase "Santa's Little Sweatshop" - funny and so appropriate! I'm starting work now on gift bags for next Christmas. I'm going to make several of them out of old blue jean denim (which I have lots of) because I won't get them back but hope they'll be reused since they'll be sturdy and more multi-purpose than a Christmasy bag. And will help bust my used denim stash :)

Jessica @ A Humble Creation said...

Thanks for the ideas. Just wanted to let you know your click on link in this post for following you on pinterest doesn't work. Looks like there may be a comma that snuck into the URL.
Happy New Year!

Amycha said...

Thank you, Lisa. You really hit the nail on the head with this one. Every year I have a similar melt and I don't like it at all. I will definitely try some of these tips for next year.

Paula Parrish said...

Great Tips! Thanks for sharing. ;o)

Debbie @DewdropGables said...

Lots of great tips and ideas here, thanks so much for sharing! I'll be pinning this so I can find all the links too.
Saw you sharing at Transformation Thursdays.
Debbie :)

Suzanne@thriftstoredecorjunky said...

Thanks for the great tips! I have decided to commit to at least the first one...I always stress about finances around Christmas time, and it spoils my Holidays.

Anonymous said...

My children are both adults now so this year I decided to cut back on the wrapping paper as it is really a waste of money and not environmentally friendly. I found creative ways to present my gifts w/o paper. My son loves books so instead of wrapping each book separately, I put them in a pile and secured with a wide burlap ribbon-I also tucked in a little piece of cedar from my yard. It looked great and saved the time and expense of wrapping paper. I will reuse the burlap ribbon next year. I wrapped about half the gifts and found creative ways to present the other half w/o wrap. This saved me tons of time, labor and money. They looked great under the tree too. I will try this method again next year.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

That's a great idea! This year we had two gifts wrapped in paper under our tree because I didn't have a gift bag that was large enough. Let me tell you Husband complained a blue streak about the time it took to wrap them because they both were to me!

Katherines Corner said...

Great tips. I do try and keep money stress low around the holidays by buying gifts throughout the year.

Steph @ somewhatsimple said...

Great tips! I bet Christmas will be here before we know it! Which is good, 'cause I already miss it! :) Thanks for linking to my link party! :)

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