7 Quick Takes Friday - Christmas Shopping Edition

7 Quick Takes Friday: Christmas Shopping Edition

I know. I know. It's not even Thanksgiving yet! But with 6 kids and multiple holiday season birthdays, planning way ahead of time is the key to my sanity. Of course, Christmas is not really about stuff, but stuff does seem to find its way in there. Some good planning does help prevent overbuying and overspending. Here is a little peek into my pre-Christmas brain...

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I admit...I'm about 70% done with my shopping with another 15% ready to purchase. I feel distracted and stressed if I enter Advent with too much shopping to think about. Did you KNOW that you only have 2 more months until Christmas? I refuse to leave my house on Black Friday... my shopping will be done by then!

For more about how we stay sane and Christ-focused on Christmas morning, read HERE.

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In an effort to get away from collecting too much STUFF this coming Christmas season, we have been trying to come up with special activities or lessons to give to the children that we don't usually spend money on. Some ideas that we have been considering for birthdays and Christmas:

~ Riding lessons at a local equestrian center. We can't afford this long term but we can splurge on a few lessons for a special birthday girl. She's always dreamed of riding horses (what little girl hasn't?) so this is a great opportunity to give her a taste of that dream. Grandma and Grandpa are helping with this and her godparents have purchased a pair of used riding boots. 

~ Seed money and supplies for starting up a small business. The kids always have entrepreneurial ideas but without a steady source of income, the start-up costs are challenging to come by. 

~ Laser tag. We have a very cool laser tag facility close by and the kids would rather have a day there than almost anything other fun activity or toy.

~ Short term or one-time Lessons for something the child enjoys such as cake decorating, jewelry making, sewing, shooting, etc.

But sometimes you just want to have something to wrap for someone. Here are my favorite ways to shop...

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Handmade. I'm a sucker for anything made by someone I can talk to, email, or shake hands with. I love supporting small family businesses and particularly those who use their talents to support those in need. Handmade is not usually cheap, but is often worth the expense for a special gift. Just found today on Etsy...

Violin String Necklace - A Lucky Puddle

$3 from purchase supports pro-life

Blush Rose Quartz and Pearl Sterling Pro-Life Bracelet

30% of her profits go to pro-life
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Pre-owned (aka used). And of course I do not mean nasty, dirty used stuff. Craig's list. Ebay. Online and local swapping sites. Garage sales. If there is something specific that you are looking for, chances are that someone else is trying to get rid of one. I can't tell you how many times I have been tempted just to knock on my neighbors doors and ask if they happen to have fill-in-the-blank. Don't tell Button, but I just swapped some clothes we don't use for this beautiful Christmas dress for her. She's going to be so surprised and thrilled.

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Ebay. I used to generally avoid ebay. The idea of an auction format really stressed me out and I always missed the end of the auctions anyway. I have grown... and learned my way around well enough to get some really fantastic deals. It takes some patience and planning but does pay off. It is important not to get caught up in the race for stuff; if you can separate from that mental madness, it's a great place to shop. I have learned to be patient and have been rewarded recently with several purchases for the minimum bid of $.99 plus shipping. In one case, the poor lady paid more to ship my item than I paid to purchase it!

Ebay is not only useful for used items but also brand new items. A little internet research will go a long way in saving money this way.

Most recent Christmas ebay find:

New in Package Pottery Barn quilts with shams (Karina)for the little girls. $30 for each set. Retailed at PB for $150. I cannot wait for Christmas evening when they happily make their matching beds and snuggle into their new nocturnal finery.:)

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Homemade. Different from someone else's handmade because it is made in my own home. We've got talents in this house and we like to use them! I highly recommend investing a few dollars in a pocket knitter for a crafty kid (I think it's easier for kids than a round loom)... and then watch the Christmas scarves come flying off the pegs! Get yarn on sale and this is a very nice gift for kids to give to relatives.

Food gifts are nice. Professor loves to make peanut brittle to give. If I can dig up the recipe tomorrow I'll post it. Crash made peppermint bark last year. Both fun to do as a family and delicious.

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I wish I could say that I am completely uninterested in receiving Christmas gifts but, alas, I cannot honestly say that. It is true that I don't need a single present to open in order to have a blessed and joyful Christmas. Jesus satisfies completely. It is also true that I do enjoy receiving gifts from my loved ones... especially because they love giving them. The best packages to receive are the ones lovingly given by my kids. The second best are the ones that loved ones pamper me with.

So... here are some hints... because I just want to make life easier for everyone involved. :)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Posted on October 28, 2011 .