Thursday, November 15, 2012

How to Save Money by Planning for Christmas Early

Red Snowflake Crunchy Candy Cane Dark Chocolate Truffles 6 oz. Box: 1 CountLetting Christmas sneak up on you pretty much guarantees that you’ll be shelling out money for a lot of last minute items but likely a lot of products and services with jacked up prices as well.  You’ll probably be trying to stretch a Christmas fund you’ve taken no time to save for and budgeting will seem like a lost cause.  With a little advance preparation you can avoid the blind panic that comes with scrambling to put together a lovely Christmas at the very last minute. 

Make Lists (Lots and Lots of Lists)

Make a list of everyone you need to buy a gift for. Then, figure out how much you can spend on gifts and assign a value limit to each person.  If your budget starts looking like it’s going to be a $2 per person kind of Christmas, get out the Santa pen and start crossing people off your list.  We would all love to get a present for everyone we know but when money’s tight it’s important to prioritize your spending and avoid going into major debt over the holidays just so you can appease your nagging commercial Christmas spirit. 

Your list making doesn’t end with the gift giving one.  You’ll need to make another list for expected expenses.  If you buy a certain amount of decoration at Christmas keep these expenditures in mind.  Not only will this give you time to start saving enough for what you think you’ll spend, it also gives you the opportunity to keep your eyes open for gifts or necessities that are on sale earlier in the year. The more gifts and expenses that can be purchased and crossed off your list early in the year, the better off you’ll be when Christmas rolls around.

Homemade Gifts and Decorations

If you’re a crafty type of person and you’ve given yourself enough time to prepare for Christmas, you can save quite a bit of money by making some of your Christmas items by hand.  A good idea is to hit the sales right after Christmas and buy up all that garland and left over ornaments in the discount bins.  Throughout the year you could probably come up with some pretty spectacular set of decorations for a fraction of what you’d spend during the holiday season. 

With plenty of time to make homemade gifts you should investigate for gift ideas from your friends and come up with personalized and heartfelt gifts.  Putting together a scrapbook of your favourite memories with photos is an incredibly thoughtful gift that usually would take quite a bit of time but can be easily finished in time if started earlier in the year.

Start a Christmas Savings Fund

Thinking about Christmas early enough in the year will give you a chance to put some money aside.  Making a budget early will give you a clear idea of how much you’ll need so you don’t feel like you’re getting slammed with Christmas expenses all at once come December.  Factor in all the dinners, parties, and presents that you’ll need to buy and don’t forget to add a little extra to the budget in case of surprises.  Having a Christmas fund ready will make a huge difference with the standard holiday stress and panic that comes with shopping, preparing, and planning for Christmas. 

Prices tend to go up around Christmas and popular toys and other products sell out.  Planning early gives you the opportunity to hit all the big summer sales and will save you a ton of money, stress, and grief.  Sign up for email notifications from your favourite stores so you can be alerted to any upcoming sales.  You can even feel safe shopping online for better deals since you’ll have plenty of time to wait for items to be shipped and even return anything that doesn’t satisfy you.  Getting a head start on Christmas will give you that much more time to relax and enjoy the holiday season when it finally arrives.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Creating a Budget for the Christmas Holidays

Indoor Christmas Decor Props Pkg/5The holiday season can be incredibly sneaky with its overlooked costs and last minute presents.  The best way to take control of your Christmas spending is to create a budget and keep track of your expenses as you go.  Purchases may still sneak up on you but at least you’ll be ready with a realistic budget to help you squeeze in any little extras when needed.

Make Lists for Everything

Make a series of lists, or even a spreadsheet, of everything you will need to spend money on this holiday season.  Gifts alone will be a major category and once you have an idea of what you can spend, a limit should be assigned to each gift.  You should also prioritize this list in case your budget is too tight and some gifts need to be less expensive or eliminated entirely.

Parties and entertaining will be another major list.  Estimate how much you’ll be spending on food, drinks, and party supplies.  If this list gets too out of control you may need to cut back on some of your Christmas parties, have someone else host them, or start hosting potluck parties to save on food costs.

Keep a miscellaneous list as well and leave yourself a little room to add things you may have forgotten.  Many people use the same decorations every year but you may need a new tree or want to add to your winter scene collectibles.  Adding these extras to your budget will ensure nothing sneaks up on you and will remind you to avoid purchases you don’t really need if money starts getting too tight.

Keep Track and Stay Updated

Making a budget and burying it away in the back of a drawer will do you absolutely no good whatsoever.  Keep it on hand so you can check back on a regular basis.  Post a copy on your fridge so the whole family can be aware of expenses.  Take your budget with you when you go shopping so you can cross things off your list as you go.  If you keep your budget up to date you’ll be able to track your spending to ensure you aren’t going over your limits.

Using a cash-only system is a great way to be more aware of your spending.  Keeping your Christmas budget funds in an envelope or separate wallet will remind you how much you’re spending when your stack of cash starts feeling thinner.  A separate Christmas account can be a good idea as well so you can easily keep track of holiday spending versus your other regular bills and expenses.

A Christmas budget not only helps you determine how much you can spend over the holidays, it also reminds you to be aware of your spending.  It’s all too easy to get carried away with the excitement of Christmas and the spirit of giving but a strict budget can steer you away from unnecessary purchases.  Keep track of even the smallest items you buy as those are often the ones that add up and come back to haunt you on your January credit card statements.

Host A Christmas Party On A Budget (Without Looking Cheap)

Iced Christmas Gift Sets: 12 CountEverybody knows at least one fabulous socialite who hosts amazing parties during the holiday season, every year, without breaking a sweat. For the rest of us, Christmas parties tend to be a lot of work and cost way too much money at a time of year when the family budget is already spread too thin.

But what if this year you could step into the shoes of Christmas Party Host Extraordinaire and plan your own holiday soiree that knocks the knickers off of all your guests – without breaking the bank?

Hosting a fabulous Christmas party on a budget just takes a little thought and planning ahead of time.

Here are a few ways you can get started on a stress-free, budget-conscious, Christmas party path.


Start With Your Guest List And Budget

Making a list of how many people you will be inviting to your Christmas party will allow you to budget for food, alcohol, and space. If you have a list with a modest number of people, you may be able to afford putting on a fancy meal and providing wine for all your guests. But, if that list starts to grow into a number that your budget is not capable of handling (you set a firm budget, right?), then you can start to make adjustments to the party planning in order to save money.


How To Cut The Cost Of Food And Alcohol

Two easy ways to quickly cut back on the cost of your Christmas party is to turn your feast into a potluck and add a BYOB note to the bottom of your invitations.

A fully catered Christmas dinner party can be impressive when you are comfortable to do that financially, but if you’re not, is it really worth it once the panic sets in after the credit card arrives in the mail a few weeks later?

Encourage your friends to bring along their favorite dishes or desserts that they love to make. Remind people to bring their own alcohol and while you’re at it, why not suggest that everyone bring a different type of wine to the party and create a casual wine tasting atmosphere?

If you really want to have an alcoholic beverage on hand for your guests, you could choose to have some inexpensive mulled wine or hot apple cider available for everyone to try.

Save Money On Decorations

Even though your house is likely to be decorated with Christmas decorations already, it might be hard for you to resist adding some party-specific decorations that may eat into party planning budget.

So, why not consider adding some homemade ornaments to your holiday party d├ęcor?
 
Fresh pine boughs can be easily transformed into beautiful wreaths with a few velvety ribbons and a hot glue gun.

Ribbons, bells, and other festive knick-knacks can be found at any dollar store for next to nothing.

Christmas paper plates and napkins can also be purchased from the dollar store which will not only add a little color to your potluck buffet table but they will also save you from an overwhelming mountain of dirty dishes at the end of the night.

Christmas music is another way to create an atmosphere and set the mood with cheerful sounds of everyone’s favorite Christmas classic. If you don’t have any yourself at home, it is very likely that you can borrow some from friends and family.


Think Outside The Gift Box (Host A Cookie Exchange)


Instead of a typical Christmas party, why not do something different than most people, like maybe host a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party? Forget exchanging store-bought gifts and invite all your guests to bring a few batches of their favorite cookie recipe to taste, trade, and send home with one another.

All you really need for this type of party are the ingredients for your own favorite cookie recipe and a stack of disposable take-out containers for your guests to load their goodies into.

Hosting a great Christmas party doesn’t have to be expensive as long as you make the time you are spending with friends and family both fun and meaningful. Don’t get hung up on trying to do everything yourself. Let your guests help you and you’ll have more fun planning your party with loved ones, while enjoying a stress-free holiday season (especially knowing that it didn’t cost you a fortune).

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

7 Ways To Celebrate Christmas on a Budget

Original Hand-woven and  High Quality Ceramics Bracelet(China Style, Christmas Gifts)Christmas is supposed to be a joyous and merry time of year but all too often it ends up being a stressful hassle that has us worrying too much over our wallets, bank accounts, and credit cards.  Forget the financial stress this year and celebrate Christmas on a budget so you can spend less time worrying about purchases and more time spending the holidays enjoying the festivities with your friends and family.

Cut the Card Costs
A few dollars for a greeting card might not seem like a lot but when you send out a large number of them to all your friends and family they can really start to add up.  One way to avoid shelling out $5 a pop just to say Merry Christmas is to switch to e-cards.  A cute, funny, or elegant animated winter scene shows your friends you’re thinking about them over the holidays without wasting money on a card that will get buried in a junk drawer or the recycling bin within a few weeks.

However, if you’re a traditionalist with a soft spot for paper cards or like to put all your cards up on display you can still save money in two ways.  One option is the big discount box of cards with a generic winter scene on the front.  These can be classed up quite a bit by writing your own heartfelt greeting inside.  The second option is to make a series of homemade cards.  You’ll still need to buy the supplies to make them, but you’ll still cut the overall cost and you can’t get much more personal than making your very own cards.

Feed Your Guests for Less

A huge cost around the holidays is all the expensive Christmas parties.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the Christmas spirit and feel like you want to provide everything for your friends and family, but taking on too much yourself might ruin the holiday experience for you and your bank account.  Let your friends help and throw a potluck party rather than a huge Christmas feast that you arrange on your own.  Gently remind people to bring their own alcohol, as that can be one of the most expensive things to provide.

You Aren’t Santa Clause

 It’s a great feeling to give everyone you’ve ever met a present for Christmas but it doesn’t make you a Scrooge if you need to cut a few people off your list.  Suggest a name draw with your friends so everyone still gets a present but no one has to shop for a huge list of people.  You can do this for every circle of friends, family, and co-workers you have so a list that might be around 40 names can be cut down to about 5.  Everyone saves money and nobody feels guilty.

Give Presents Without the Price

Making homemade gifts or offering out your services are excellent ways to give something to your friends without spending a lot of money.  Hosting a cookie exchange can be a great way to send your friends home with a bag full of treats while spending only the amount it costs for some baking ingredients.  If you have any special crafting or knitting skills, use those to your advantage this year and save money while giving gifts with a very personal touch.  If you specialize in a specific service like photography, computer repair, child care (or a million other possible things), give coupons offering out a few hours of your time as a gift.

Inexpensive Entertainment

The holiday season is a wonderful time to enjoy free entertainment anywhere you go.  Strolling through any and every mall in your area is a great way to enjoy some fantastic Christmas displays and different holiday scenes like Santa’s workshop.  Grab a steamy cup of hot chocolate in a to-go mug and take your family for a walk or drive through any neighbourhoods that have really gone all out with their Christmas light displays.  If you have a group of friends with lovely voices, or at least just love to sing, go carolling throughout the streets or at a local mall. 

Do It Yourself Decorations

Making homemade decorations not only lets you decorate your house without spending too much, it also allows you to spend some time doing something fun and crafty with your family.  Popcorn garland is a classic and tasty decoration that requires only a needle, thread, and big bowl of popcorn.  Of course, you may want to hold the extra butter for this batch to avoid greasy stains on your furniture.  Homemade wreaths with fresh pine boughs are a beautiful addition to any door and will give your house that festive Christmas pine scent.  Construction paper snowflakes and collages made from old Christmas cards also make great Christmas decoration projects.

Give Time Instead of Gifts

Volunteering at a local soup kitchen, animal shelter, or charity of your choice is great way to get into the spirit of giving.  Providing your time for those who really need it won’t cost you a dime but you’ll be providing an invaluable service that helps others.  You may even find volunteering so fulfilling that you choose to continue helping out even after the holidays.

It’s easy to get distracted with advertisements and marketing during the holidays, but be sure to remind yourself that Christmas isn’t about what you buy.  Focus on spending quality time with your friends and family while worrying less about what you’ve bought them and you may find yourself enjoying a more rewarding Christmas this year that doesn’t leave you struggling with credit card bills come January.

Monday, November 12, 2012

7 Ideas for a Romantic Christmas Date

Original Hand-woven and  High Quality Ceramics Bracelet(Classic, Christmas Gifts)If you’re looking to take your partner on a romantic Christmas date or two this year, but don’t have a lot of cash to work with, you could consider some alternate date ideas that don’t include dinner at fancy restaurants or luxurious getaways. The Christmas season is a great time for taking in the scenery and just enjoying the overall happiness and good will in the air.  With the right mindset and a little planning ahead of time, you’ll find you don’t even need to bring a wallet to have an awesome date.

Go “Lightseeing”

Take a long walk or leisurely drive through your neighbourhood and around the city to check out all the light displays and Christmas scenes.  Wait until the dim evening hours when all the lights are glowing bright and bring along a thermos of hot cocoa to keep you warm. 

Go Christmas Carolling


Listening to Christmas music is a fabulous way to get into the spirit of the holidays and singing them to others will only make you feel all the more merry.  You can go carolling with just your significant other or get a group of other couples together for a double, triple, or quadruple date. Carolling throughout your neighbourhood or around a local mall to spread the most amount of cheer possible is spectacular way to connect with your partner and spread some joy to others in your community.

Go Ice-Skating


Ice-skating with your partner is one of the most classic and romantic Christmas dates.  Skating around and holding your loved one’s mitten-clad hand will put you in the Christmas spirit while filling you with some romantic warmth.  If there are any frozen lakes nearby you could even clear a rink and enjoy a more private and intimate skate together.

Enjoy a Romantic Dinner at Home


You don’t need to make a reservation and pay for an expensive meal at a fancy restaurant to have an amazing dinner date at Christmas.  Surprise your partner by serving a lovely holiday meal for them set with Christmas themed dishware.  To spend even more time together, get your Christmas aprons on and cook the meal together over a glass of wine.

Share a Winter Picnic

Pack an extra large thermos of hot cocoa or warm apple cider, grab a stack of blankets, and head to your nearest park for a romantic winter picnic.  For a cold day, pack yourselves some hot soup or steamy chilli and cuddle up on some blankets to keep warm.  Be sure to bundle up to ward off any wind and snow that tries to sneak up on your picnic.

Make a Decorating Date


Spend an entire day hauling all your Christmas decorations out of storage and transforming your house into a winter wonderland.  Put on some Christmas music and turn what you might consider a bit of a chore into a wonderful Christmas date.  Have fun with it and be sure to take a few breaks with your partner underneath the mistletoe.

Watch a Christmas Movie Marathon

Pick a Saturday or Sunday to do nothing put watch old Christmas movies. Snuggle on the couch in your pyjamas and have a stack of your favourite holiday DVDs on hand with a few black and white classics or animated Christmas movies in mix for good measure.  Stock up on popcorn, liquorice, and all your favourite movie watching treats.  This date idea is even better on the colder wintery days because you can stay cuddled and cozy with your significant other and shut out the miserable weather for an entire day.

There are plenty of wonderful things to do during the holidays that you don’t require you to spend any money.  Christmas can get expensive enough as it is with all the presents, dinners, and parties that are mandatory with the family, so think up some new and exciting things to do with your partner that won’t impact your Christmas fund.  Anything that gets you in the Christmas spirit and let’s you spend some romantic time together can make a perfect date during the holiday season, and you’ll avoid the holiday stress knowing you didn’t go over budget.

Reasons to send your child a letter from Santa

North Pole Santa Letter Now that the holiday season has finally come, it's time to think about Santa coming down the chimney and giving your child gifts and cheer all the way from the North Pole. One thing that many parents have discovered recently are letters from Santa. These amazing letters can be the perfect way to make your child's holiday even that much more special. Below are some reasons why you should send your child a letter from Santa.

The first reason is that they will love it. It's true that if a child already looks up to Santa, you will be able to really wow them. It will be fun to see your child light up as they open the envelope sent directly from the North Pole to them.

The second reason is that a letter will be a way to bring personality and a face to Santa. It's true that movies and books bring a face to Santa but it's not always enough. Being able to see “the big guy” sign his name to a letter is just wonderful.

The third reason is that it was really make a child learn to read so much more. Getting any kind of mail can do that to a child but when it's from someone they look up to , it's even better. Having a child love to read is very important and a letter from Santa can really promote reading even more.

The fourth reason is a reason that is all about you. It's simply easier and better to buy a Santa letter online than making your own. The main reason is you don't have to stress about keeping the secret and you also get to save a ton of time and ideas. These services have their letters typed out perfectly and allow you to just select what you want and then order and wait.

As you can see, there are tons of wonderful reasons to buy a Santa letter. As it gets closer and closer to Christmas, you'll be happy to have this special gift something to look forward to completely
.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

How to Rekindle Your Romance at Christmas on a Budget

Original Hand-woven and  High Quality Ceramics Bracelet(Ethnic Fashion, Christmas Gifts)Christmas time always has a certain amount of quiet romance and mysterious magic, which makes it the perfect season to spend some extra time with your significant other.  The days grow dimmer but all the bright lights and decorations have an unexplainable way of keeping people’s spirits high.

Sometimes your mood can be tested during the holidays though, and often it’s from the stress of spending extra Christmas cash that doesn’t fit into the family budget. Fortunately, there are ways to eliminate that stress, or at least drastically reduce it, while still enjoying the Christmas season just as much, if not more. 

Make the decision to not let money be an issue this Christmas and rekindle your romance during the holiday season by making a pact to not buy anything for each other that is outside of a strict budget that you agree on. Instead, plan some wintery fun with the one you love and enjoy the frosty season together without spending a dime on the expensive things that matter the least.

Trim The Tree

The tree has to go up, so why not plan to spend the day together digging out all your old Christmas decorations and leisurely decorating the tree for an afternoon?  Put some of your favourite Christmas music on, set out a plate of gingerbread cookies, and have some hot cocoa heating on the stove.  Tree trimming is usually one of the first Christmas tasks that need doing so start your Christmas season off on a romantic note by spending that time with your partner.

Play in the Snow

Fresh snow brings out the big kids in even the best of us so get goofy with your significant other and go play outside.  Make a snowman complete with a top hat and carrot stick nose. Lie in the powdery snow together and make his and her snow angels.  If you’re feeling particularly cheeky that day you could even start a mini snowball fight. 

Make Homemade Ornaments
Even if you’re not the most creative couple in the world, spend an evening putting your brains to work by making some homemade ornaments.  You can find plenty of good materials either around your house or at a dollar store such as pinecones, pine boughs, ribbons, and little bells.  You should be able to find some great ideas from Pinterest.com or any Christmas crafting websites. 

Bake Cookies

Bake up a few batches of some Christmas themed cookie recipes such as gingerbread, shortbread, or sugar cookies.  If you get carried away with all that baking excitement you can always freeze a few batches to pull out for when friends and family drop by for their holiday visits.  Make a whole day of it by shopping for all your ingredients together, mixing and baking the cookies, then decorating them all with icing, sprinkles, and little candies. 

Go For a Romantic Drive
If you live in an area that gets snow over the holidays, you’ll know what an incredible transformation takes place once that snow falls.  Go for a romantic drive together to admire all the frosty trees and powdery snowdrifts.  Even if you don’t get snow for Christmas you can drive around and admire all the decorations and Christmas scenes set up in front of the homes and stores in your area.

Wrap Gifts Together

Spend a romantic evening wrapping presents with your lights dimmed, tree lit, and Christmas music playing softly in the background.  Clear a big space in your living room and set up a little wrapping station in the middle of your floor.  Of course, keep the presents for your partner hidden away elsewhere to avoid any prying eyes and ruined surprises.

The holiday season is a great opportunity to spend more time with the one you love.  Shop together for gifts and decorations or enjoy some hot cocoa while you watch the snowfall.  Hang mistletoe everywhere and steal as many kisses as you can!  You don’t have to spend a lot of money just to spend some romantic time together if you look for new ways to enjoy what this frosty season has to offer.

Explaining to your child why to write to Santa

Christmas  PVC Showcase Sticker Of Santa Claus With Many GiftsIf your child has started to want to know more about Santa, it's time for you to explain the importance of writing Santa a letter. Of course, the letter will be a huge help for you since you will know just what your child really wants . The hard part now is explaining why your child should write the letter in the first place.

The first way to show them why to write to Santa is to show your child movies about Santa and also read them books about it. Normally starting in late November you can find a large amount of Christmas themed books. The best part is new ones are released every year and many are amazing.

The second way to promote your child to write to Santa is by explaining to them the reasons you like Santa. You can do this by showing them your memories of Santa, talking about the letters you sent and about the gifts you got after sending those letters. This can really help your child know first hand that their parent enjoys Santa just as much as they do.

The third way to promote your child to write to Santa is by asking other members of your family to help promote Santa as well. It can be hard for a younger child to know the importance of writing the letter if their older siblings aren't writing at all. So ask your family to explain their love for Santa and even the many memories they have from their childhood with Santa.

These three ways are the easiest ways to promote how to help your child know the fun of  writing to Santa and what can come from it. Taking the time to explain this holiday tradition will save you a ton of time and build amazing memories for you and your child.

Help the little ones Write A Letter To Santa this year! Click Here!

How to really select a great company to mail the Santa letter from

North Pole Santa Letter Shopping online is hard and when Christmas comes , it becomes even harder. This is even more difficult when you add the need to buy an amazing Santa letter on your list as well. The problem with buying a Santa letter is that there are so many websites that can provide you with letter. However, not all companies are the same. Picking the right company to send your letter doesn't have to be hard. This article will help you find the best Santa letter to use for your family.

The most important factor to remember is the prices. Starting in November, you should start looking at  the prices of all the Santa Letter companies online. You should know your budget and what you can get within your budget. There is no reason to spend a lot of money if you don't want to.

Another factor is to know where they ship their Santa letters from. Many companies now are able to mail letters directly from the North pole. Some still are not able to do that. If you want to have your letters sent from the North pole then look for those companies.

Another factor is to remember to look at their reviews. Many of the websites place reviews from the previous holiday. Take the time to look for those reviews and read them. It's best to also compare reviews from one site to another. Some might be trying to share reviews and claim them as their own.

Once you've done the thing things above, you need to ask questions that you can get people to get the answer from. It's important that you ask realistic questions to keep things easy going and also professional.

The most important element to remember when buying Santa letters is that it's best to buy your letter as early as possible. You should know how soon you'd like to send it out and how much it will cost as well. Now that you know how to pick a great Santa letter, it's time to get busy and pick the best one for you and your family.