I was making my semi-monthly trip through Costco and what did I spy everywhere I looked? Christmas items! Christmas foods, Christmas wrap, Christmas decorations, Christmas gifts, even Christmas Kleenex. (Okay, let’s be honest, what do you think is going to happen to Christmas candy that you bring home in September? Uh huh, that’s what I thought.)
Well I’m here to tell you – it’s too early to shop for Christmas. I am convinced that the earlier you start shopping, the more things you buy – both for yourself and for others. You buy a book for your child and by the time Christmas rolls around, that little genius has already outgrown that reading level or has checked it out from the library or borrowed it from a friend. Â I can’t tell you how many years I planned and purchased in advance only to have my efforts thwarted.
In addition, you shouldn’t be buying so much that you need three months leading up to The Big Day. Now if you’re making homemade gifts, maybe you should start now. But I’m talking about purchased (impulsively purchased) gifts. Don’t waste your time and money and build clutter in your own house or someone else’s by purchasing too much, too soon. It can wait. I promise.
Today’s Mini Mission
Eco Tip For The Day
It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow
Amen to that, Cindy!!!! Also, to purchase now, gives these big retail chains the “OK” to put Christmas out long before Halloween and Thanksgiving! I am furious when I see this, and decide that I won’t support them, no matter how much I might want an item!
My shopping is really easy now. I just buy gift cards and send them with a card in the mail. No lines at the post office to mail gifts any more! It is easy for me and I don’t have to worry about giving people things they don’t want or need or will have to try to take back after the holiday. I do buy baking goods when they go on sale during the holidays, but I buy it for my year round baking. I have tried not to bake too much during the holidays any more since we just eat it and gain weight. We also get a lot of baked goods from other people. Less clutter and less fat for the holidays!
I’m certainly not ready to think about Christmas and I don’t like to see Christmas items in stores this early. I like to take some time to enjoy Fall. I’ll start pondering gifts for my mom around the first of November. It’s hard for me to find that “just right” gift for her. I like to make a list and then rework it as needed. My brother is so easy – I just get him a nice gift pack from Omaha Steaks every year. LOL My in-laws are very difficult and it’s always something last minute for them. Not smart, I know, but ugh! Hubby is a little difficult to shop for too. 🙁
Deb J says
Cindy, this is good. We started seeing Christmas decorations for sale in July at the craft stores. I get so frustrated with places when I see them putting things up so early. Since we don’t buy for each other and anyone else we don’t have to worry about gift shopping. It’s nice.
We’re very fortunate to have been able to opt out of the tyranny that enforced gift buying can be. We tend to get a few eatables for family we will see on Christmas day and I buy (with great pleasure) a gift each for the 2 children in my life. But that’s it. Husband and I don’t exchange presents – such a relief. There’s the rest of the year to treat each other spontaneously if we wish.
I do appreciate it is much harder if you have kids though, or an extended family full of expectations.
If your budget is shot to pieces in these hard economic times, or if you just wish to break a endless consumer cycles, then now is the right time of year to tell extended family you won’t be buying for them this year and are very happy not to receive. Or suggest a low financial limit on each gift. I know it may sound a bit bah humbug, but as we know, there are many ways to have good times and show love to folks at Christmas, it doesn’t have to cost so much you’re paying off your card for 6 months after.
Hi Doodle! I really think your comment is spot on for me. Not so much on the children’s front, but the extended family. It is a bit overwhelming and I tend to get carried away on the shopping, because it is kind of expected. I did say, in a comment, early this year that I just point out what I want and they buy it for me. Well, this year I don’t really need anything. Last year I lowered the bar, I had a budget and I was sticking to it (and I did, but I still thought I spent too much). These year I am lowering the bar even more: they will not be allowed to buy so much stuff for the children. So I have a budget and I have some requirements. I am going to suggest a Secret Santa for the adults. Let’s see how my suggestion will be taken….
That sounds really good Andreia – a less abrupt, slower change can be far more affective for some. Good luck with the secret santa suggestion – I think that it sound much more fun than everyone buying for everyone.
I wonder if there is any chance with your children of people buying experiences for them in the future, rather than things, particularly for birthdays.
I think if anything in life makes us feel a sense of ‘overwhelm’ we need to look at what and why so we can break it down into smaller doable bits and make changes to feel back in control/able to cope.
Andreia I would love to hear how this goes. For me I found that no matter how I try, there is no subtle or kind way to change the rest of the extended families; so I let them keep up their ways and just change mine. For example if they ask what the children want, I ask for something small. If they don’t want me to tell them, I let them pick. If we don’t want it, it goes either way, but I don’t tell them that. Over time, they see how we live and I do mention that I am overwhelmed with STUFF and decluttering constantly especially now that we have another baby! So others can still exchange big gifts, but I give small gifts unless I find something that is really special and worth it once in a while. I often express that I do not need anything, but if a gift is given I am gracious. I feel for you because you mentioned that the excessive gifts are EXPECTED, and I know the feeling since gifts are expected by some of our extended family, but at least by now they know that we can only give small ones and they accept it…even if they would prefer to have more. They have learned to give smaller gifts to my children, and I suspect even smaller this year since I have showed the full toy shelves and lightheartedly commented on how whenever we get more toys, something has to go to make room. My oldest is 10; so I have accepted I cannnot change them, but things have certainly changed a little…just not enough for me!
Tammy R says
I think that is a great idea! My husband and I don’t buy each other gifts for any holiday – even birthdays. I don’t need anymore things! We take little trips instead. We also buy gift cards so that family members can buy what they want instead of what we want them to have!
I like this! We recently went on a rare trip, and I suggested instead of gifts, we start saving up for more little trips. The children can still get Christmas PJ’s and things they need and have family gifts to open. I think they will like this!
Since my budget is usually tight, I plan in advance and start making things. Better yet, I start making things out of supplies I already have, so the gifting is part of the de-cluttering! This year Mum and Dad get a quilt made from scraps Mum gave me years ago!
I have a commitment every year to provide some sort of gift type thing at a pastors’ party about 80 small gifts. So I have already bought about all of the gifts, when in the States. I was able to find beautiful gauzy bags at 2 for .01, right after Christmas and then had quite a few months to find 40 pieces of jewelry on sale to go in these bags for all the pastors’ wives. Then I had to find stuff for the children, just small stuff. I was buying hot wheels cars since the little boys LOVE them and they are expensive here, for about 1.00 each when I decided to look at thrift stores. I found like new ones for .25! This is a huge weight on me every year (for the past 20 years) so I have to start early or I will get overwhelmed.
We exchange in our immediate family only a few things that are REALLY needed, (limit is 3 to represent the gifts of the Magi). A lot of times these are homemade (calendar that my art major daughter’ makes, a leather crafted something or other). Everyone usually makes a small list out so no one has to guess. Since we don’t buy a lot during the year this is a chance to really tell others what is needed and we each enjoy picking that out for them.
I do hate the clutter of Christmas decor so I am never tempted to buy more. This year I heard a friend that all they put up is a manger scene. Oh how I longed to do just that too! May be some year when the kids don’t expect a tree.
Hi GracefromBrazil! I was curious when you said it was a “huge weight” on you. Wouldn’t be easier to just buy for the kids?
Do you have a obligation of some sort (just you), or does everyone exchanges gifts (as in you get 80 gifts in exchange for all the ones you bought)? Sorry to be so nosy, but it must be really difficult to buy gifts for so many people and, even at small prices, it is a stretch on any budget…
Andreia, thanks for your question! I appreciate your interest and possible ideas. I realize that I do need to re-think this. When I began 20 years ago I did not have so many families to buy for but it has grown. I do think it is time for a change. I have thought about the possibility of a gift exchange. It is interesting, though, how every year somehow it works out. Since we get groups of North Americans who come down and have a heart to help families they some times bring school supplies or dental supplies. These go a long way! But I can’t always know. So I think you are correct, to focus on the children is probably more sensible. (But I also love giving some little thing to the wives of these pastors who work so hard and get little recognition!) So you see I am hopelessly stuck! : )
Hi GracefromBrazil! Yes, I understand what you are saying, sometimes we just want to do sommething nice… 😉 Why don’t you do a Secret Santa amongst the wives, with a set price? It would be fun for them to have a celebration after all that hard work…As for your fellow North Americans that go over there to help, why don’t you send a “suggestion list” of gifts? It would be great for them to bring things that will be really useful. It is always money well spent. Where do you live in Brazil?
Hey, Andreia, we are in Manaus, that state of Amazonas. Yes, I will take to heart your idea of making a list for folks to bring down since some school supplies don’t translate well (different paper size for example). One year I had a bunch of travel tooth brushes and small purse size dental stuff that got left behind and it went over big since most Brazilians are much more conscientious than most Americans that I know about brushing after every meal. Purse size toothbrushes and tooth paste are hard to find in this region anyway. This was purely by chance that I discovered how much these items were a big hit. So I have a daughter coming in May with a big group so I will have my list ready….talk about starting Christmas shopping early next year! : ) Thanks again for your practical suggestions.
I can see your point Cindy, but I do prefer to pick gift items up months before I need them as I find them. I don’t find that I over buy or make gift mistakes this way. I keep them all in one spot too so I never forget about them or lose them. I happened to find the perfect birthday card for my grandmother 3 months before her birthday so I purchased it when I found it and then sent it for her birthday (which was yesterday). She called not only myself to tell me how wonderful it was that I found such an odd and perfect card, but she also called my entire family to share it with them! Since I tend to buy gifts only when I think they are a perfect match I feel I need to pick them up when I find them. I don’t buy gifts just to buy a gift, but since I do like to share gifts at Christmas I like to pick things up as I find them.
I think I will avoid stores for now, I’m not ready to think about Christmas yet!
This is the first year that my family is doing a round-robin Christmas. I’m excited and curious about how it will work out. It is really nice to not need to worry about a whole slew of presents. Well, my entire family has fall birthdays, and there is a baby and a wedding so I still have a slew of presents, but only once. I’m switching mostly to food gifts and homemade.
Decluttering Diva says
It took many years to work down to this, but we now give small money gifts to our grandchildren and our adult children, and other than that–no gift buying. It’s great, especially in these hard times.
I read an article recently that talked about retailers doing so poorly this year that they’ve really rushed the season, even more than they usually do, in hopes of getting people to open their wallets.
That gambit won’t work on me though. Put stuff out this early and all it does is make me tired of seeing it.
I agree Cindy, except about buying books for my kids:-) Because I don’t buy them books during the year (usually), they request certain special (ie expensive!) books for their Christmas Book Stack. For example my 10 yo son adores Lego, so he has asked for The Cult of Lego, and The Lego Book, so when I find them at the cheapest price I’ll put them aside. My newly-formed bookgroup is organising a baking day to bake all our gifts for teachers/colleagues, etc, and I’m much more excited about that than actually going into the shops.
Jo H. says
I think it all depends on what kind of shopper a person is. If you are careful, organized, and avoid impulse shopping (have a list and stick to it), shopping early makes a lot of sense. You have time to look for something “just right”, and watch for sales on the presents on your list.
However, so many of us are here at 365lessthings because in the past we shopped beyond our needs, and if we still have a tendency to do that, this advice can be helpful.
Nooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It cannot be almost October and time to be plagued with carols in the shopping malls already! Surely not!
This year we have decided that we’ll all put in for one gift for each family member, rather than each of us, and something from that person’s wishlist. Better to get one useful gift that several not useful gift. The kids and I have decided to do a yummy platter and some ‘designer’ beers for my hubby. Hubby doesn’t have a wishlist but I know he’d enjoy this.
Cindy I. says
Actually, we don’t buy anything for Xmas, birthdays, or any other things of that kind, and we don’t celebrate them either for various reasons. Personally, I’m too difficult to buy present for, and at the same time I don’t want to celebrate them (birthdays/Xmas/…).
Most of the time, just because it’s “this time of the year” people feel like they HAVE TO buy something to others, whether they feel like it or not. In my opinion, a present should be meant to the other person, not just because we feel obligated to.
I do start my shopping now but that is because I want to be done before Thanksgiving when the stores start getting packed. I’ve pretty much just moved my personal shopping season backwards a month and only shop at the grocery store between Thanksgiving and New Year. I think it works because first, I don’t drag shopping season out and spend more, and second, I have the time and headspace to enjoy decorating and seasonal events with all the shopping, wrapping, and shipping out of the way. This didn’t happen last year and I didn’t enjoy the season half as much. My list is started, the first gift bought, and hopefully a serene Christmas is in the works.
Heh. My shopping is mostly done. If it isn’t mostly done by now it’s a frustrating and expensive Christmas because I have to go to Real Stores and pay Real Prices. There are a few things that wait–legos for the October sale, books for my uncle til he knows how far he’s gotten in his series.
The taste of adults is pretty steady, and my family has no problems with second hand gifts (in some cases, that’s the ONLY way to get the items, in fact). So it’s off to rummage and garage sales in the summer. Even if something I decide not to give, it’s still a lot cheaper of a way to do it. I have a spot in the basement where all the gifts go, and every birthday and Christmas down I go, and usually there is something waiting. It takes a lot of stress out of the time.
I have had to learn to be strong at rummage sales and only buy things I’ll use or give, but I’ve gotten good at it, so it works to my benefit rather than to my clutter now.
I buy or make throughout the year so I don’t have a big expense in December. 🙂