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Helpful Tips As You Get Ready for the Holidays...

  • Give yourself a reason. According to a recent poll, approximately 65 percent of us spend the majority of our free time doing things we don't want to do. For the holidays, take a step back and consider how you really want to spend your time. Make a list of four non-shopping wishes, such as ice skating or a horse-and-carriage ride downtown. Jot these four items onto your calendar as your inspiration to get your work done.
  • Set a budget. Simplify by setting spending limits on family gifts at $25 or even $10, drawing names for extended family and making your holiday party a potluck.
  • Shop early. When you shop early in the season, the selection is better. Shop early in the day to avoid the crowds. Make it fun and save money by rising early to take advantage of "early-bird" hours. Completing your shopping early will give you peace of mind to enjoy the holidays.
  • Combine trips. Save gas, money and your sanity. Before you head out, comb your gift list and create lists for each type of store: department, home improvement, specialty (books, sporting goods or electronics) and chain retailer. Follow your lists and resist the urge to throw in extras, as this can add stress and blow budgets.
  • Get creative and give memories Think creatively and be sensitive to the person's needs and likes. Maybe homemade coupons redeemable for babysitting for the young couple who cannot afford a night out; a day of housecleaning for the overworked mom or care for an adult's elderly parent for the day so the caregiver can get out of the house.
  •  Simplify and save with green gifts. Buy reusable canvas tote bags for friends and family. These can be personalized with images on photo sites.
  • Wrap in green paper. Save time and resources by using materials on hand or reusable boxes or bags to wrap presents. Use the comics, coloring book pages, maps or scarves. Greeting cards also can be recycled into gift tags.
  • Skip spontaneous shopping. When you are done, relax. Enjoy yourself and your family. Don't give in to the notion of adding on just one more gift.

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