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Every year, I struggle with the big lump sum of spending that takes place in November and December for holiday shopping. It's not that we spend all that much per person ($20-$30 per child or per couple) but it does add up quickly. This year, I want to spread things out a bit, so I'm thinking about starting some shopping here and there, but of course, I don't know what to get anyone, and I don't want to start asking now for fear they'll think I'm nuts.
:

So, does anyone else do this? What kinds of great standby or this-works-for-everyone gifts do you stock up on?
 

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I do this all year round. I have found the best time though is the after x-mas sales. I usually stock up on candles, lotions, pj's and pj pants. Basic toys are good for kids..ie puzzles, books, blocks..etc...

I hope that helps...
 

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Not crazy! I'm thinking about the same thing. In the past few years, we've tried to do homemade gifts for each family, and then still buy the nieces/nephews a small gift each. For kids, I love to get art supplies (good time for that, w/back-to-school sales on things like markers, paper, and crayons), puzzles, games, dress-up stuff...

Giftcards are always a good option, IMO, though I know they can seem impersonal...
 

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I know from my experience that if I start too early I end up buying too much "stuff" and spend way more than I ever intended. A buck here and there really add up...especially over 6 months


However....if you have the self control that I obviously lack, then I think it's great to have that 6 months to really shop around and find the right gifts at the right price!
 

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Looking for the bargain is truly my quest in life!

i am a big fan of checking out the kitchen towels, gadgets and containers at the dollar store, then fill some with my own home dryed herbs and mint for teas and seasoning.

i also figure if I would like to receive it as a present, some one else may as well.

happy hunting
 

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I absolutely do this!

I have a friend that does almost ALL of her holiday shopping a day or two after Christmas. I mean, she buys almost all of their gifts for the next Christmas, and has done it this way for years now, so it obviously works for her.

I shopped way ahead when I was due w/ DS (now 2.5 y/o) as I was going to be hugely pg around the holidays and knew I wouldn't be in the mood to deal w/ crowds
This year we have a large portion of our shopping done, as I'm due in early December and I don't want to have to worry about it. This year I picked up a bunch of gourmet food baskets from a local store (similar to Harry and David's type of offerings) when they were doing their annual inventory around July 4th. THings were significantly discounted. I like consumables...wine, crackers, foodie items...they don't clutter up people's homes and most people like to eat LOL. We bought most of the gifts for DH's side of the family after Christmas last year...we found a great sale at an "outfitter" type of place and the quality of items for the price was amazing. Most of his family is done.

THe only snafu is that every few years, my family or DH's will suddenly decide to do a "pollyanna" (or name exchange) without warning. In my family, it never works because several family members don't like a name exchange, and buy for everyone regardless, so it becomes very awkward, kwim? If DH's family does a name exchange this year, I guess we'll save some of our gifts for birthdays, etc.

I still need to buy for all of the kids in the family (nieces, nephews), my kids, my DH, my parents and a few friends, but most of my siblings and DH's siblings (and significant others) are done


Organizedchristmas.com has good gift ideas if you are feeling in the spirit LOL
One thing I did based on a tip from there was that I stocked up on several 'back to school" type items for our gift closet (Art supplies like 15-20 cents for a 24 box of crayons, glue sticks/glue for 20 cents each for DS's stocking, etc. etc. Those things can be used to make up art/craft type kid's baskets...again, consumables are nice!!).

Have fun!
 

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You're not crazy, you're SMART!

I keep a corner of my closet for gifts I buy all year round when I find that "perfect" item on sale, marked down, cheaper! I keep a spreadsheet of birthdays and Xmas and who I buy for and then mark off if a gift has been bought, what it is and how much it cost, so I can keep to the budget. I usually have b-day presents 3-4 mos in advance and all of my xmas gifts bought before November 1.
 

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Not crazy. I shop year round for Holiday Time. As a matter of fact it is my mission to not have to set foot in a store from Thanksgiving until January 15th. Of course, every year I usually forget someone and have to run out but for the most part I am done by Thanksgiving.
 

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I really want to try and spread out the shopping this year. Most years dh and I are running around like crazy for 2 weeks before Christmas. We usually spend several hundred dollars, then end up praying that someone gives us cash for a gift so we can stay on top of our bills.


I think that kid gifts are probably the easiest to do early shopping for. Kids, and those relatives that you don't know well, for whom you'd be likely to buy candles, kitchen gadgets, bath stuff, etc.

I think it's important to keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to know who a gift might be given to either. My mother always has a stash in her basement of frames, candles, dishtowels, mugs, ornaments, etc. that she found cheap. They are often "add-ons" to other gifts that she buys closer to Christmas, but it helps ease the financial pain of doing everything at once.
 

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If you don't have any ideas, you could start setting aside money so you have a big sum when you get in holiday shopping gear. I do get things throughout the year, being very picky about quality and price. But if you buy during a shorter period, it can be easier to be more aware of how much you really are spending. I try to have a very good idea of who something is for because sometimes I accumulate gifts but decide they aren't quite right for anyone after all.
 

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Or you can do what we do. Drop out of the exchange. We were a scrooge the first year but now its a relief and more jumped on the bandwagon.

We just give a huge donation and adopt a family and buy the list they want from Catholic charities. Its still half the cost of doing gifts that by MArch end up in the closet.
 

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I'm done with my Christmas shoppoing.
: I'm addicted to being finished by summer. I was last year, wrapped presents in Aug. before DH went back to work, and had the most relaxing holiday season. We didn't step foot into a store, besides the grocery. It was amazing!
 

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I do the same thing as sarasprings.....done by summer, wrapped by late summer / early fall, absolutely no shopping during the holiday season other than groceries! It's fabulous, absolutely fabulous, and stress free regarding money, stress free regarding my sensitive and spirited DD who hates shopping, stress free because we have family time when everyone else is running around wasting time with all the other late shoppers. We have "Christmas" worked in to our budget system, and save money each month for it, and we know exactly how much we're going to spend per person. Then, whenever I find something, the money is there, and I get it! I found brand new Robeez in May for our new nephew for only $8 / pair (regularly $26 or so). So, of course, I got two pair.
You really find fabulous deals when you shop throughout the year. We don't purchase gifts for more than our immediate family and very close friends, so I don't stock up for them, as I know what I want to get them or what they'd need or like. For neighbors and aquaintances, I bake holiday goodies, so I am on the look out for cool packaging during the year. Red plates after Valentine's or 4th of July can be dressed up with green bows and look Christmas-y. And, I usually run to the local paper outlet after Christmas to stock up on wrapping and packaging for next year. Happy holiday shopping in summer! It's liberating.....
 

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I buy things on clearance year-round. Especially for kids. Currently in the birthday box, I have 10 dinosaur bone models that were $3, marked down from $15-25 at the learning store. I also have a huge mound of knitting that i have made over the year, with no particular recipient in mind. Really, who doesn't want hand-knit stranded pattern mittens?
I also hoard art supplies, cars (mostly boys, you see) models for my brothers and other things like that
 

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One thing I do sometimes is to buy gift cards to stores I know either I buy lots of gifts at, or lots o fpeople like. Might not save the hassle of holiday time shopping so much, but it's a good way to set little bits of money aside and not have the feeling of it burning a hole in your pocket. So for example, I buy lots of gifts from the bookstore. Next time I go there, I'll probably purchase a $20 gc. As th eholidays get closer I can use it to buy a book, music cd, or game for someone, or stick it in a card as a last-minute, don't know what to get kind of gift. I like Target for this too, wrapping paper and stuff.
 

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And I wanted to say I am completley in awe of the mama whois already finished
Here I thought I was doing so well even thinking about it before fall!
 

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My MIL has a box that she keeps presents in. Not sure that it's really based on frugality but when she finds something she likes--a kitchen implement, a great book, beautiful music--she'll buy several copies and keep it in the box to have on hand for gift-giving time.
My SIL and I always laugh when we see we have all the same stuff given to us!
 

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I have been thinking about the holidays, but no actual shopping yet. DH's family always draws names, so we haven't done that yet. As soon as we do I will start my shopping! I try to get stuff on-line alot, as we are 3 hours from a mall! We do have Wal-Mart, but it's CRAZY crowded durring the holidays. For the women, there is one family owned store that I always buy gifts from (either in Oct. or early Nov.) for all of the women! If I can't find the perfect something, then I get them a giftcard. There are also good jellies, honey, ect. and you can buy a basket and they gift wrap it all for you! I take a couple of hours and when I come out I usually have all of hte woment checked off my list, packages wrapped, ect. I am not into tons of presents for the girls, so I try to only get a couple of things. It's not the most frugal (although I do buy flowers and make arrangements sometimes) but I love the store and the family who run it, so I feel like that is a good use of my money! I did stock up on art supplies last week, and those will go into stockings and Easter baskets thru the year. I also try to get stuff that people will USE. Meaning food, candles, lotions, consumable things. For the girls I get toothbrushes, socks, underwear, pajamas. STuff that they need anyway, and that I would be buying anyway, and then just wrap them up
IT might still cost money, but it's not exaclty "extra" money. We just save $$ all thru the year, there is a special savings account that my mom uses, you put in $50 or $100 every month, and then draw it out in October. One other thing I have done is to have an Usborne book party. It does cost some money, but all the kids got good books that year, and they were discounted quite a bit! I also got some for DD's easter basket, birthday, ect. and put them up for later. This year I am drawing a blank as to what to get the kids??? We have little room for anything big, all I can think of is the little things? I do try to have a general lsit of ideas started by September, and then I like to have all of my shopping done by Deer Season (early november).
 

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I just started this this year. I have already bought a few presents. My goal is to be done shopping by Thanksgiving. In my family we do an exchange so I bought a nice laundry basket, put in some new dish cloths, soap, and misc household stuff I figure if no one wants it I'll grab it back. We play a game swap instead of exchanging names. I also will keep a few $3 gifts on hand for last minute ideas or if I'm in a pinch. I don't think DH and I are going to exchange, I think we will probably splurge on DD since she will 14 months and should be excited.
 

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I would like to get done early this year, but I do have the problem the previous poster mentioned with starting early - I have a hard time stopping, so if I was done in September, if I saw something someone would really like, I'd have a hard time not buying it in October, etc.

What is also hard is the way my family tends to trade gifts. My brothers will come to me to see if they can buy a gift off me for my mom since they haven't though of anything. My dad will ask me to buy things for mom if he doesn' thave anything, etc. I have bought gifts off my mom before (she tends to overbuy)

We have been putting christmas shopping in our annual budget though.
 
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