Christmas shopping is a task that stresses me out each and every year. But this year is by far the biggest for our family. Because of the downfall to the recent health insurance changes we have had to pay a mortgage payment each month for my family to have health insurance. And it isn’t even good health insurance. Well it is a lot better than what will happen next year because we probably will not even have it! Super great considering that I will be delivering my baby next year and need it more than any time in my entire life. C-sections are not cheap and I find that we will be shelling out a lot of money next year. Money we do not currently have.
Because of this we have taken a very VERY conservative approach to Christmas. As a family we never went crazy with presents anyway. Our son always has plenty to open and was thankful for everything he received. He has never been a child to look at material possessions as something to be a brat over, unlike some kids I’ve seen, and I am very thankful for his kind and generous heart. Usually most years he would receive a big present (that was way too expensive to purchase throughout the year) and then little presents to open.
Well this year, I have been shopping for him in a way to maximize our budget and still have things to open. I inherited both my mother’s great love for Christmas (She would go wild with decorations and presents) and my father’s struggle with giving a child too much. He was the complete opposite when it came to Christmas, he always thought my mother went overboard but at the same time never stopped her because growing up he did not get much for Christmas and I think wanted me to have the same joy of Christmas as my mom did. Seeing both sides I can pick out the parts I want to do and at the same time not go overboard. A great thing I remember my mom doing was she would wrap every single item she bought me separately even if it went together. That way I had lots to open and enjoy. She would stay up late Christmas Eve and wrap away. I find myself doing the same thing for my son, except I wrap as I go, lol! This way it is done and all I have to do is set it up the night before.
Santa is something else we as a couple have discussed and came to some decisions. You of course can have your own opinions on this and I am by no means telling you what to do but we find the whole idea of Santa a little unnecessary. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE me some Santa spirit. I love the idea of children realizing the magic and wonder of what Santa represents, but when it comes down to presents, I find I do not want to give the old man all the credit for giving my child presents that we have to pay for, lol. So instead we invoke the idea of Santa, take our son to see him, ask for special things, and enjoy the Christmas spirit. But when it’s time to open presents, Santa gives our son the stocking with small gifts and a few special presents. This year it will be one of the bigger (around $30-$50 item) toys and a few smaller toys to unwrap. Everything else is from Mommy and Daddy. This way when my son does come to the conclusion that Santa is just a story it won’t be (hopefully) that big of a deal.
Honestly, I found out Santa was my parents when I was about 4 years old. Yes, 4. lol. I noticed that the same Christmas wrapping paper that were used for my gifts from Santa was hanging out in the basement. My mom played it off like Santa left the paper there so my Mom could use next year….ok… lol. Then a little while later I found the wrappers (that she left in the basement too) that were from my little presents I received in my stocking. Yes, I had an investigative mind at a young age and figured it out. When I told my mom, she did not lie to me, but told me not to say anything because I had cousins who still believed. I understood and did not say anything but still enjoyed the magic of Christmas. Now, I hope my son does believe for a very long time. We finally got him to sit with Santa last year and tell him what he wanted, which was SO awesome because he was terrified for years, lol. But when he comes to us and ask we will be honest because like I said, Santa is not what Christmas is about. Christmas is about the birth of Christ and the magic that Christmas brings to not only families around the globe but it brings families together in a way that only Christmas can. You can also say that about any religious practice that you partake in.
Now to the deals!
So far I have been slowly buying things for my son so that I am not scrambling the week before to get everything I want. We went out to a few stores last night (yes a Friday but hello, it’s over a month until Christmas) and it was CRAZY! It honestly felt like it was after Thanksgiving with the amount of stuff people were buying. So I decided if I want to buy, I will when my son is at school, during the morning working hours, lol. Here are some tips for shopping and maximize your budget:
- Do not shop mainstream department stores UNLESS they are offering some awesome sales and/or coupons, etc. Never pay full price for something unless it is a hot ticket item that you know you will not find again. I have been receiving emails from Toys’R’Us and Target telling me about their one day sales and coupons. Target will put a new toy item every single day on their Cartwheel at 50% off, so if you can wait until you find something then. Be careful to watch out when the offers will expire, so you do not miss out.
- Try shopping at stores like Ollie’s, Big Lots, TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshalls, and 5 & Below for small gifts and things that might be older to today’s market of toys. My son is in LOVE with Tsum Tsums. They are tiny little pot belly Disney characters and honestly they are SO cute. I secretly want them so of course I get them, LOL! If you look at the mainstream stores now, most of the original Tsum Tsum toys are out of style. They have made so many that now there’s Marvel ones and things my son does not really care for so I had to look at other places to get them. A great store for me was Ollies. It’s a closeout discounted store that has great toys, books, and art activities for kids (also SO much more at great prices). Well I ended up finding him a Tsum Tsum hardback book, a PJ mask book, a box full of Tsum Tsum activities (and a big collector guide that he is going to freak out about – yes my child is SO into booklets that show all the characters of things, lol), a group of stackable Tsum Tsums – all for $10! The book alone would have been $10 at a regular bookstore.
- Make sure to utilize your coupons! I am super excited because my neighbor and I are going to get together to start couponing! Now, we are not going to go crazy, but this way we can put our coupons together and get deals without having a hoarding stock of supplies, lol. My major need is getting diapers and wipes at the best possible price. Well, I received some good coupons from Kohl’s this week. I had a $5 off coupon (any purchase), a $10 off $25 or more, and a 20% off total purchase coupon. A great thing bout Kohl’s is you can stack these coupons together, so my goal was to find something around $25-$30 and get the best return for my coupons. The only catch was I could only use the $10 off coupon yesterday. So we grabbed dinner out last night (since I live far away from any Kohl’s or Target, or really any good main stream store, lol) and on the way home I stopped inside. Not knowing what to buy, I figured I would try to get something for our son for Christmas.I found Tsum Tsum toys, YAY! The original mini ones! I was super excited, the only problem they were like $6.50 a piece, ugh. Normally at like Target they are $4.95, but these were the original ones – Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Dumbo! I also found another stackable pack for $3.99 which isn’t bad for those as well. So my total came out to about $30 (before tax) and with all my discounts, I ended getting everything for a little over $12 – technically around $2.50 for each item. Score! The only place I have really found that carries the originals is the Disney store online, but I would have to pay for shipping (because I wouldn’t buy $75 worth) and it would end up being even more so this way I don’t have to worry. They do have them on Target.com as well and I have a RedCard so I wouldn’t pay shipping but they are still $5 a piece.
- Create a shopping list on your phone so when you are out you can check off what you buy. The biggest struggle people can have is forgetting what they buy and end up buying way too much by the time Christmas rolls around. I keep an ongoing list of what I would like to get, if I find it check it off, and then keep a running total so that if I reach the max of our budget for Christmas, then no more spending. This way we are still within our means.
- This year we’ve decided that handmade gifts are the way to go. We want to stress to everyone that we do not need any gifts this year (or any year for that matter) and to really just enjoy spending time together. A good friend of mine stressed in her invitations to her daughter’s birthday – to not bring a present, that our presence was the greatest present of all. Which I thought was not only cute but very considerate. Because I know my son will like to give something to his family members, we are making presents this year. This not only is affordable but also gives my son the chance to contribute and feel a part of the gift giving. We also have a week off for Thanksgiving, and a whole week off before Christmas so this will give us something to do. Of course I’ll blog on my art activities and share it with you guys! Handmade presents are not only more from the heart but will fill your small children with pride that they made this for you! If you’ve ever had a child give you something that they made you – you know what I am talking about.
Something that I want to unofficially do is an activity that has been passed around Pinterest for a while. Giving a child for Christmas – Something they want, Something they need, Something to wear, and Something to read. We will be doing this as our family gift. Especially with the arrival of another child, we cannot go over board and want to make sure everything is as equal as it can be within siblings. So for our son this year it will be – the play set race thing he wants, something he needs is a little tricky because he really needs shoes, LOL, so I look for if I can find shoes $20 and below – I refuse to pay more than that because his foot grows so fast, if I can find him some cheap big headphones he will be super excited (5 & Below is a great place for that), something to wear will be underwear, LOL and maybe a fun shirt, and to read will be the Tsum Tsum book and any other books I find. I know the point is to purchase one item for each category but when I am very conscience of our budget I find you can buy a little more for the same price you would spend on something you would pay the full price for.
So sorry for the rambling of this post. I woke up this morning with a lot of thoughts and wanted to write them down before I forgot, lol. I realize that I am not the greatest writer, I write as I talk and sometimes can be a little confusing. I will try to be better, but in the mean time that you so much for taking time of our your day to read this post, especially if you got this far down! I have been feeling very emotional lately with everything going on and I feel better writing my thoughts and ideas down because at least I am sharing it with someone. If you have any other good tips for shopping smart this Christmas, please leave a comment I would love to hear them! Have a wonderful weekend! *Much love*