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How to Have the Best Christmas Ever


Don’t we all dream of the perfect Christmas?  What would your perfect Christmas include?  Reading stories by the Christmas tree, listening to Christmas carols, making treat with our kids, go for a ride to see the lights, etc…  I’m afraid more often than not, our Christmas’s don’t end up being the way we pictured them.  It’s busy, busy, busy…..go, go, go…. then it’s over.  Sometimes I feel it’s as if we missed the holiday.  My Dad reads a poem at Christmas time called “Funny, Funny, Mother.”  It’s funny, but it’s also true a lot of the time.  This year will be different.  The key to making this year better is by starting NOW.  Being prepared and having a plan will help you to achieve your perfect holiday.  Let’s get started.
(picture source)

                           

First – Budgeting
Budgeting seems to work differently for everyone.  Here are my few suggestions.  Don’t use credit cards to finance your Christmas.  Create or plan a realistic budget.  Decide how much money can you set aside for Christmas without relying on credit cards each month.  It is important to have this budget in place before you start dreaming about gifts, new decor, and activities because it’s much easier to make your spending fit within your budget than it is to stretch your budget to fit your spending.
Second – Plan Your Calendar
Money and budgets may be the main source of stress during the holidays, but calendars and schedules are probably a close second!  The key to a simple Christmas is deciding which activities are really important to you and then keeping a detailed calendar.  Don’t forget to schedule the time to take care of buying and wrapping gifts, sending cards, baking, and everything else that it takes to get ready for Christmas.  The goal here is to find a way to manage your schedule so you can do the things you love without getting stressed out.

Third – Gift Giving Plan 
Make a list….Definitely check it twice.  Record everyone on your gift-giving list.  Set recommended amounts and then keep track of spending.  Remember, it really is the thought that counts!  Brainstorm ideas within your budget.  Try a family or group gifts instead of individual gifts.  My siblings and I all pool our money to shop for our parents.   This way, we don’t have to spend a fortune to get them a really nice gift.  We also do a gift exchange so that we don’t have to buy something for every single person.  We do this with us adults and with all the cousins as well.  Set a dollar limit so that everyone can plan accordingly.  
Gift Planning
Thrifty Gift Ideas

Fourth – Stress-Free Shopping
Make a list.  This way you are less likely to get home and realize you forgot the one gift you wanted to get the most and you bought something you already had.  Shop early.  You will avoid the crowds and the pressure of having to find a gift before time runs out.  Shop during off-peak hours.  Do your shopping in the mornings when the stores will be less crowded.  You will be able to find what you need more easily and you’ll be able to get help from a sales associate much easier.  Shop online.  A perfect way to find exactly what you need without having to go to 100 stores to find it.  Be sure to shop early in order to avoid paying rush delivery charges.
Holiday Shopping List

Fifth – Create Family Traditions and Memories
In the midst of a busy holiday season, it’s easy to lose our focus and forget about the things that are most important to us, but a written list of traditions helps us remember what is really important and make the time for those things.
Family Traditions

Sixth – Prepare Your Home
Declutter, deep clean, and maintain.  Cleaning and decluttering are not the most glamoursou aspects of preparing for Christmas, but by getting them out of the way early, you’ll leave plenty of time for the stuff you truely enjoy!  Make room for new toys by cleaning out the toy room.  A toy room that is overloaded and messy is not fun to play in.  Throw away anything broken.  Have your children choose 3 toys to give away.  Give away toys that your children have out grown.  Doing this early will also give you a better idea of what your kids already have and things that they could have fun with, gift ideas.
Cleaning Checklist

Seventh – Giving
One of my favorite parts of Christmas is giving to others.  Every year, including the years we didn’t have as much, we do something or give something to someone else.  Usually someone who needs it more than us.  I love teaching this to my kids.  They are always involved in our giving plan.  They see our family giving to another.  This year, I will ask my children to contribute to our giving plan with some of their own earned money.  Look for opportunities to that involve giving of time and money.  It is important to show children the rewards that come from both so that they don’t get stuck in the rut of just donating money without having to give any of their time.

Helpful Links:
Christmas….Your Way (The best resource of information shared here today.)
Christmas….Your Way Printables
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Christmas Ideas For Your Husband

Are you thinking about Christmas yet?  I sure am!
A couple weeks ago we had a special request from one of our AWESOME followers!
She was wondering what to get her husband for Christmas and wondered if we had any great ideas.
The answer is “YES” I do have several ideas, but I didn’t know anything about her financial situation and let’s be honest….that makes a big difference.  So I’ve broken this list up into 5 different catagories.
1.  FREE
2.  Practical Gifts
3.  Under $20
4.  Under $50
5.  For the BIG SPENDER!
                                                          
#1.  Free

  • Isn’t this quilt amazing?  I LOVE this idea.  My cousin, Natalie, made this quilt out of all the old T-shirts her husband wore when they dated at BYU.  I put this under the free section because if you had some extra fabric to use for the back, this would just basically cost you some time.
  • Coupon Books are also fun to receive.   The Dating Diva’s have a great post where you can download yours for free OR they give you a tutorial on how to make your own.  You can make it fun for staying home, going out, or leave it blank and let him fill it out!
  • A night at home with NO kids!  Let’s be honest….we all LOVE our kids, but isn’t a little break every now and then the greatest thing?  Arrange for someone (i.e. your mom, sister, friend, or neighbor) to keep the kids for a night and you just stay at home! 
  • A massage, pedicure, facial, or scalp treatment!  I know not EVERY man is into these things, but maybe if they tried it, they’d like it.  They can be very relaxing and make someone feel very loved and appreciated!
  • Make a CD -Remember when we used to make mixed tapes?  Why not burn a CD for your husband? Put all of “your” songs on it or all of “his” favorites!

                                                              

Practical Gifts
I know some people do NOT think that Christmas is a time for practical things, but sometimes it’s nice to give someone something that you already know they need and would like.
  • Gear for Hobbies – hunting, hiking, running, cooking, camping or fishing?
(A new camp chair!) 
  • Items for Work – Brief case, shoes, watch, or office supplies?
  • Socks/Underwear – How great are new socks?  (My husband likes the really thick, nice ones from Costco!  =)
  • Iron –  or other useful item that your husband uses all the time!  (My brother is VERY particular about how his shirts are ironed, so one year he asked for a brand new iron!)
  • Batteries – Does your husband use a lot of batteries?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Costco size package of every size of battery?
  • Fire Safe Box – not super dooper fun, but very useful!
                                                                  

    UNDER $20

    (Yes, he is in his work clothes.  He’d just gotten off work when the kids noticed Santa had been there.  They weren’t waiting!)

    • TOOLS – (or tool box/bag) My husband LOVES tools.  Harbor Freight is a great resource for cheaper tools.
    • Kitchen Tools – How about a new hot chocolate maker from Bed Bath & Beyond? (Grill, Smoker, Apron, Griddle)
    • Books (regular, downloadable, or audio) (Financial, cookbook, church, or Self Help?)
    • Outdoor fun – Frisbee Golf, Lasso Golf, Croquet, or Bocce Balls. (You have to get these on sale to get them under $20, but it can be done! 🙂
    • Gift Certificates to favorite fast food places (i.e. Subway, Burger King, or Arby’s).  My husband hates to take money out of the checkbook for things like this, but it’s nice to stop and get something every now and then and not feel guilty.
    • Games – We like 5 Crowns, Skip bo, and Phase 10. Handheld games are fun too!
    • Itunes gift card!
    • Magazine Subscription
    • Movie Tickets
    • Car Wash Gift Certificats – Not fun to buy, but what man doesn’t like a clean vehicle?
    • A candy bar letter like this one we did for Fathers Day!  YUM!

                                                        
    Under $50

    • Movies – Does your husband have a TV show he liked as a kid?  Sometimes on Amazon or Walmart.com you can find good deals on full season of shows.  Like we posted here.

     


    • Clothes – Ties, Dress Clothes, Casual Clothes.
    • Basket of favorites – (Favorite gum, chips, sunflower seeds, soda, candy bar, or breath mints)
    • Car Wash/Detailing Kit
    • Remote controlled car, plane, or helicopter.
    • Tickets to a concert or sporting event! 

    (We’ve gone to REAL soccer game, Utah Jazz game and now Wicked, the musical!  SO FUN!!)

                                                               

    For the BIG SPENDER
    (This is definitely not our category, but it’s fun to dream!  If this is your category, here are some fun ideas!)

    • A weekend getaway!!  Fly to Arizona, California, or Vegas and have a warm relaxing time!
    • A GPS runners watch
    • A Big Screen T.V.
    • An iPad 2
    • Garage shelves or tool organization system.
    • iPhone 5 (on sale 10/14)
    • 4-wheeler, snowmobile, or camp trailer
    • iPod, iPod dock/speakers , Apple TV, or Blue Ray player

      So, what about you?
      Do you have any great ideas you could add to my list?

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