I raised enough eyebrows with my comment that my Christmas shopping is almost done -- I figured I'd better 'splain how I do that!
I absolutely love going to the store the day after Christmas. Now, I know it's crazy out there and there are horror stories by the kazillions of shoppers pulling out Uzis to fight over the last half-price microwave. But I've never had an experience like that.
For the most part, Wal-Mart is a pretty considerate place at 7:00 am on December 26th. It's crowded, but people manuever their carts and let you through. Everything Christmas-related is 50% off, and if you wait about three days, the discount goes to 75%. You would not believe the beautiful things I've found there, but I can't tell you, on the off-chance that my parents or in-laws decide to wander by. Let's just say, it's good stuff and I'm excited.
I also got a bunch of new Christmas tree decorations. I like to give my tree a different look every year, and this is how I do it, by getting the decorations when they're 75% off. I can redo my whole tree for $10, no lie. And then every fourth year or so, I mix up the decorations from the three previous years. I even got my artificial Christmas tree for $10, if you can believe that, and every year that I use it, it gets cheaper. I got it five years ago, so this year, it will only have cost me $2 a year. It doesn't get any cheaper than that.
Now, throughout the rest of the year, I pick up things when I see them on sale. You never know if that item is going to be cheap or not when Great Aunt Betty's birthday comes around, so you get it now because it's the perfect item for her and it's on sale.
As far as organizing all this goes, I keep a list of the important people in my life and next to that, a list of holidays. Then as I find and purchase something that's just right for them, I mark it down on my list. This way, I know I've already purchased something for Betty's birthday, but I still need her Christmas gift.
It all goes into the deep recesses of my closet to be pulled out when needed. And how do I keep the kids from seeing their gifts? I wrap them when I bring them home. And since they're marked down on the list, I know what they are. I'd sure rather spend five minutes here and there to wrap than three hours in December.
This all sounds pretty organized and even a little compulsive. I have to say, though, that it has saved me hundreds of dollars and it's also saved me scads of time. I can sit back and enjoy the holidays because I know I only need to go find four gifts, instead of the whole ball of wax for everyone, in-laws and grandparents included. It's worth a little extra effort on my part now to keep me from feeling the holiday stress later. Plus it's fun.