WFMW - Is Christmas sneaking up on you?

A few weeks ago, while reading one of my current favorite blogs, SimpleMom, she brought up the point that Christmas was 12 weeks away - WOW - and now that 2 weeks have gone by, that means that as of tomorrow, Christmas will be 10 weeks away - where does the time go???

I'm a procrastinator by nature, and tend to let significant days like this catch me off guard - not sure why - but it's definitely something I'm working to change! I've said for the past 2 years that I would not be doing my Christmas shopping in December...and both years I've done the majority of my shopping the 2 weeks before Christmas - yuck!

I am DETERMINED that this year will be different! For starters, I'll be 8+ months pregnant by the time Christmas rolls around...the thought of hauling me, baby belly & Walker through the crowds doing last-minute shopping is down-right distasteful! order to prevent that happening - it's time to take action now! And that means a plan! Start thinking now (and making lists) - who do you need/want to buy for? What do you need to buy? Who do you want to spend time with? What decorations do you want to enjoy for the season?

When we were first married, we never had super extravagant Christmases, but we also didn't do a lot of budgeting for them either. Thankfully we were typically able to cash flow them, but it can still make for a hectic, stressful holiday season. A few years back, we started a Christmas Club with our local credit union and now, every month, they deduct $100 from our checking account, and to be honest, we never miss the money. Then come Nov 1, we get $1200 to spend as we want on Christmas - and knowing that money is budgeted and available makes such a difference! (Now I realize that amount may not be right for everyone - but it's the idea that matters more than the amount - you can adjust that for your family.) It's also obviously a little late in the year to start looking at a Christmas Club for this year - but that doesn't mean that you can't go on and get started for next year! It's the planning ahead that makes the difference!

But for this year - what can you do? I have a friend who knows that they do the majority of their Christmas shopping at Wal-Mart & Lowes - so she picks up a $20 or $25 giftcard every time she goes in to help spread the load out some. Even if she's not ready to start buying actual gifts in October, she is still spreading the monetary load of Christmas and that makes a difference - and it's not too late to give it a try. You could also take some cash out of every paycheck and stick it in an envelope at home and begin to build a Christmas fund. Do you have holiday baking to do? Start picking up extras at the grocery store now. There are lots of options - the main one is just to do something and not be caught off guard come Dec 15! If you know you're going to spend money on Christmas (and most of us are) - start working on and through that now...don't wait til the last minute and think that credit is the only answer...which leads to my next point...

Vow to use only cash this year for Christmas - don't fall for the temptation to "charge it" - so many families spend MONTHS in the new year trying to recover from Christmas. DON'T DO IT! All it takes is one year to break that horrible cycle! Tell your friends and family that this year is a homemade Christmas - they won't mind and if they do...well, that's another post! We've done this several times a few years back when we were working hard to get out of debt (thank you Dave Ramsey!) and no one ever minded and we still get requests for our homemade toffee popcorn!

It's also okay not to buy your children a million gifts! Our little guy just turned 2, and honestly, we haven't bought him much of anything for the past 2 Christmases - he just didn't need it, and got plenty from the rest of the family. This year, we do have several items planned (and already one purchased!), but we're only buying things we want him to have, not gifts just to have a big stack under the tree. I have other friends whose kids (they have 3) get 3 presents from them each year (and I'm pretty sure none of them are super extravagant) - Baby Jesus got 3 gifts from the Wise Men, so their kids get 3 as well. What a great thought in this age of commercialism!

As Brad and I have been out and about the last few weeks, we've already picked up a few things for Walker - one thing that we both love is to have memorable/meaningful ornaments on our tree. We've already gotten 3 for him this year and I don't think any have cost more than $3 - he is super into tractors, and we found a John Deere one at Wal-Mart & then last week at World Market, Brad spotted 2 cute giraffe ornaments. Walker loves giraffes at the zoo (GEE-raffes as he calls them) - so these were also a natural. As we look back over the years, how neat to be able to remember what he loved and was interested in during 2008 when he was just 2. We've also picked up a bigger ticket item - this one was one I had wanted to get for awhile, and last week, found it and was able to use a 55% off coupon on it as well- woo hoo! Now that's what I'm talking about!

So all of that to say - start thinking about Christmas TODAY! Don't let it sneak up and catch you off guard. I'm trying to follow along with SimpleMom as she works through her 12 weeks of Christmas - feel free to join in! Flylady also has a Holiday Control journal that she gives away as a free download on her site - I've used it in years past and it's also an invaluable tool. I'm going to work to start posting my progress here on Mondays to help hold me accountable - feel free to come back and join in so that you too can have an enjoyable holiday season this year! For more great WFMW ideas, head on over to RocksinmyDryer! Hope to see you next week!