Would you hate me forever if I told you my Christmas shopping has been done for several months now? I bet you’d forgive me if I explained that statement.
I don’t just limit my Christmas shopping to those crazy weeks right before the holiday. I keep my eyes open for deals all through the year, and when I find something I know someone will love, and it’s on sale, I pick it up right then, not relying on it to be on sale later. I pay for it with cash, not my credit card—a sale price is not really a sale price if you’re paying interest on it!
I also 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, Walmart is a pretty considerate place at 7:00 am on December 26th. It's crowded, but people maneuver 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 gifts I've found there.
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 $20, 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. I got it six years ago, so this year, it will only have cost me $1.66 a year.
To organize this, 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 Aunt 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 presents than three hours in December.
I admit, this does sound a little compulsive, but it has saved me hundreds of dollars and also 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. I’m able to focus on the joy of the holiday instead of fighting traffic, skidding on the snow and ice, and stressing because I can’t find exactly what I want for Aunt Bertha.
It’s no wonder that our attentions get pulled further and further way from Christ during this time of year. The pressures are immense, from planning the parties and the special meals to cleaning the house to prepare for guests. If we could do one thing ahead of time to help lessen that stress, it would be invaluable, and that’s the benefit I get from looking ahead. I can’t store a cooked ham in my closet, but I can tuck away the gifts and pull them out as needed.
I encourage you to look at all your holiday traditions and think of ways to simplify. Neal A. Maxwell commented that we have a tendency to get bogged down by distraction, and I agree—how many of these little things get in the way of our true enjoyment of the holiday? Let’s do what we can to put the focus back where it belongs, on the Savior, and keep ourselves from going totally insane with preparations in the meantime.
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