Christmas in July – Really!

by: Amy Hannold 247Moms Frugal Living Editor

I was not surprised to see school supplies already in stores last week. It seems that retailers have noted that the sooner merchandise is in the store, the more of it they can sell in advance of the “holiday”. Back-to-School shopping; consider it your warning that fall and winter holiday shopping will be here before you know it. Smarter consumers will recognize this – and prepare now – here’s how.

Inventory: Sort through closets, pantries, and other corners for holiday supplies and gifts. The summer is a great time to sort through what you have, what you forgot you had – and what you no longer need. You’ll lose “weight” by de-cluttering, save money by finding supplies at home and know what you really need to shop for in the coming months. I did this just last weekend and found stores of school supplies we’ll be able to use this year – money saved!

Love Your Neighbors: Food banks would be thrilled to get your donation of edible pantry extras – and you can use the summer as a time to experiment making new recipes with your kitchen stockpiles. (Tell your family it’s “camping” food!). When school supplies are a great deal, buy a few extra for projects such as “Operation Christmas Child”. Pens, crayons and the like make great gifts too! Sort through closets, so that you’ll know what your child needs for colder seasons. (Consider hosting a clothes swap so that everyone can get some new fashions – and save money!

Make a list and a Holiday Budget: Determine who you need to shop for, what homemade gifts you’re going to make, and how much will be spent on each of these. Begin to take note of the likes and hobbies of your loved ones – for gift ideas. Talk with family and friends now about gift exchanges and group gifts.

Build a Holiday Fund: Begin saving your change or a certain percentage of your spendable money towards holiday expenses. Kmart has an inspiring program where you can earn a small return on funds you load onto a holiday shopping card. Avoid holiday spending hangovers. “Gift” yourself with the funds you need later on, instead of resorting to credit – it’ll become a profitable habit!

Research the Holidays Now: During those lazy “have time to read” days or while the kids are enjoying the public library, read up on crafts, homemade gifts or new traditions you’d like to try. List and budget for the supplies, and get a group of friends to join you. Homemade holidays will be so much more fun when you have the time to enjoy the creative process – instead of last minute “get it done” stress. Before or while your social group is creating homemade gifts, talk about traditions you enjoy – and get ready to enjoy a few new ones at your house.

Invest some time into upcoming holidays – it’s a great way to connect with your family and friends. Welcome new neighbors with invitations to “Crafting Time” socials and other fun events. Inspire one another – and you’ll have so much more than gifts to share for years to come.

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