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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Christmas shopping -- yep that's what I said, Christmas
I've been amassing a pile of Christmas gifts in the closet, over the summer.

This is a great time of year to check thrift shop shelves for Christmas items. Folks are cleaning out their own closets and donating to the thrifts. A couple of weeks ago I found a few Christmas things at Value Village -- added to the stack.

Also, I regularly receive both Kohl's and Penney's $10 off coupons. Last week I spent a few hours using 4 $10 off coupons (1 $10 off/$10 to Kohl's, 1 $10 off/$25 & 1 $10 off/$10 at Penney's, and 1 $10 reward I didn't even know I had at Penney's from the suit I purchased last spring). With these coupons/rewards, I bought 5 gifts for this coming holiday season, and spent a grand total of $12 out of pocket.

Add these items to the stash of after-Christmas clearance gifts I bought in January, and my pile is growing. I'll still have a couple of large ticket gifts to buy. I'll begin hunting those down soon.

Am I just crazy, or have you begun Christmas shopping/crafting already, too?



Live and Learn said...

I do do a little Christmas shopping early, if I specifically know something to get. However in the past when I've gotten things earlier because I thought they might be nice, they are no longer appropriate when Christmas comes. The person really needs or wants something different or is out of the phase that I bought for. However, it is time to start the handmade gifts which are usually something more generic with the same thing being given to several people.

BTW, I am still getting you posts very late--I just checked in today to see what was going on. And now I see that a comment you made on my blog two days ago, just showed up today. I hope Blogger fixes this problem soon, because you're not the only tardy one on my list.

Linda said...

Many of my gifts are homemade and yes I've begun working on them, if not literally, then at the very least the ideas have been forming in my mind. I give all of my grandchildren (14 in all) Christmas ornaments each year and usually a decoration of some kind to the adult children. For the past several years I've been making them crocheted ornaments and I am pretty sure what I will be doing this year. Right now I'm working on fall decorations...crocheting a little squirrel for a wreath...but I expect I'll be heavily into Christmas crafting before September arrives!

With 7 children and 14 grandchildren there's no way I can manage "typical" Christmas gifts. Making gifts has been my go-to method almost from the git-go.

I get coupons like you mentioned too and they really help to ease the Christmas budget! You have to be creative when you love to give gifts but the funds available are thin!

Cat said...

I haven't begun any shopping yet, but have started a bit of crafting. With five kids in school this year, I know I'll need some items for teacher gifts so have started knitting dishcloths for that purpose. I also recently made myself a set of pretty market bags and was thinking those would make some nice gifts. If I could figure out the monogramming on my (older) sewing machine, I'd actually like to make some for my own children as gym/library bags. These came out looking like a rather pricey brand of popular bags using a nice cotton duck fabric with muslin lining, but with our Joann's and Hobby Lobby coupons (the only places that sell fabric in our town), I think I can make them very inexpensively-$2-3 apiece as opposed to $25+.

And while these aren't for Christmas, I'm getting ready to make a set of burp cloths as a baby gift. I love choosing fabric to match the mama's theme and giving a set of 5 or 6. Very inexpensive (again using sale fabric or a coupon) but they are "custom" and usually very well-received.

Another item which I will be making this fall when apple season arrives is apple butter. People love to receive homemade and canned apple butter. And then I use the peels and cores to make apple jelly as well.

Amanda said...

Me too! I aim to be finished before Thanksgiving every year so I can truly enjoy the holiday season rather than stressing over shopping. I wrote about one purchase here that I bought because ornaments are always on sale in January. I also won a gift card to a book store in May, so I used that to buy books for Christmas presents as well. Meaning my Christmas shopping is almost complete! :)

Anne in the kitchen said...

I start Christmas shopping on Dec 26th each year, and continue it throughout the year. Usually September 1 is my serious start date. By then fall/winter merchandise is in the stores and I can get a lot done quickly. In theory I would like to be done by Halloween, but practice and theory rarely meet for me. I still get it done pretty early.
My husband and I go to the mall each Christmas eve morning and have a cup of coffee while watching everyone scurrying about.

Lili said...

Hi live and learn,
Yeah, I understand that. You buy something, then needs/wants change. I'm waiting on a "big" item for one of my daughters because I'm just not sure she'll still want this item come December. But I have been able to pick up things like sweater tights, socks, belts, scarves and hats which are always appreciated.

Hmmm, I just don't know what to think about Blogger these days. Whenever I google a particular problem with them I find many others are having the same issue. I hope they get their act together in a hurry, too.

Lili said...

Hi Linda,
what a nice tradition, to give your grandchildren an ornament every year. They'll treasure these, as I know my own kids treasure the ones that my parents gave to them.

Can't wait to see the finished squirrel that you're making for a wreath!

Lili said...

HI Cat,
oh yeah, the teacher gifts. We did a lot of baking for teacher gifts when my kids were in high school. Your knit dishcloths sound very lovely, and will surely be appreciated.

Apple butter sounds wonderful! What spices do you use? I've only made apple butter a couple of times. I may have to try that again.

Lili said...

Hi Amanda,
Good for you -- for being almost done!!!!
I just peaked at the ornaments you bought -- how cute! And what a great way to use the gift card that you won! Books always make wonderful gifts, IMO.

I use Thanksgiving as a cut-off date in my mind, too. Most everything I have to mail, so I try to avoid long lines at the PO at all costs. That's good incentive for me.

Lili said...

Hi Anne,
This is so awesome to read all these comments that others are Christmas shopping/crafting early, too! What a fun tradition to go to the mall and watch all the crazy people on Christmas Eve.

I remember going to the local drug store with my mom on Christmas Eve day, and having to circle around the parking lot dozens of times to find a spot, then waiting in line for an hour to buy a roll of gift wrap. It felt exciting as a kid, but I wouldn't want to find myself doing that now.

The Prudent Homemaker said...

I have put aside some Christmas gifts, too. Some were purchased earlier this year at garage sales. Some were purchased with Amazon credit. A few were purchased with referral credits to an online place (if you refer a friend, and the friend makes a purchase, they give you a credit to spend at their store). I had enough credit to not have to pay shipping, which was nice.

I also bought a birthday present for a child whose birthday is in December. I already knew it was a great deal, but when I got it up to the register, it scanned at 60% off!

Lili said...

Hi Brandy,
Great work!

We have a late fall birthday in our family, and I also have to plan for his gifts (as you do your child's December birthday). That adds just a bit more of a challenge to the Christmas gifting season.

Awesome! I love when you get to the register and the item is much less than expected.

With one of my $10 off coupons, the item I picked out was just over the $10 minimum, or so I thought. It turned out to be one of Penney's doorbusters (just no sign on the display) and was $5 less than I had thought. So, I ran back to the display and picked out a second one of same item but in another color (for the other daughter). For about the same amount of money I had intended to spend, I got 2 gifts!

The Prudent Homemaker said...


I have a recipe for apple butter:

Lili said...

Thanks, Brandy! I'll come look. Our apple trees did really well this year. Apple butter would be a nice change of pace from our usual crabapple jelly, cherry preserves, and plum and blackberry jams.

Anonymous said...

I always stock up on presents for birthdays or special occassions, most of them are unusual items from flea markets. In the beginning of the year we have a lot of markets here and I buy for my whole family presents. Only... I am always so excited of what I found that I give the presents whenever we meet (we don't live close so we don't see each other often). We don't celebrate Christmas really. I most of the time get a book on the wish list of my children.
Just yesterday I found a lego bottle and a lego bread box in pink for my little niece who is going to school for the first time after the summer holiday. I also found a new pink stuffed fabric rabbit and I will wrap the three. She will be visiting next week, just in time for school. The items were *brand* new because the original price tags were even on it. I also found a fantastic book for my mother with recipes, stories and beautiful pictures of Spain. My parents go there for at least 6 months every year and she loves to cook and learn about the Spanish cuisine. I am going to give that to her also next week, can't wait to see her reaction:)
So, to make a short story long: I am always on the look out for presents, but I have the wrong timing giving them ;)

Cat said...

I use cinnamon and cloves. It's the Sweet Apple Cider Butter from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. We love this particular recipes. I try to mix tart and sweet apples when making it, but it also depends on what varieties are readily available at that time.

Sharon said...

Great idea, using those coupons for Christmas gifts! I usually throw them away thinking I don't really need anything. Thanks!

Lili said...

Hi Sharon,
At the very least, I use the Kohl's or Penney's coupons for things like socks and underwear. We can always use a few new pairs of either.

Lili said...

Thank you, Cat! I will check out that recipe, as well. Tart and sweet is what we have here. :)

Lili said...

Hi Maria,
I've done that, too, a couple of times! I get so excited and just don't want to wait until the holiday or event. What you found for both your niece and mother sound perfect for their interests. That's what makes a great gift, I think.

Belinda said...

Buying Christmas gifts year round is always a good idea. I do the same thing here. Who wants to go into January in debt? I certainly don't want to do that.

Kris said...

How do you get $10 off a $10 purchase from Kohls? I get them frequently from Penneys but never Kohls.

I don't purchase "big" gifts for the kids for Christmas super early anymore, for the reason live and learn cited--their interests change--but I always look for hats/mittens right after Christmas and put them away for the following year. I also typically add in a new long-sleeved shirt as a gift. And little doodad-ey stocking stuffers. Sometimes I have stumbled on great gifts for my kids in the summer--last year I found a tabletop hockey game for my son for $9 and I think it was his favorite gift (even more so than the "big" gift).

Right now I'm trolling the ads for a bike for my son--he's outgrowing his old bike and since he rides a lot, I think we'll splurge and get him a new one for his birthday in a week or so. Since he has an end-of-the-summer b-day, hopefully I can score a good deal on one. We've always done garage sale specials for his previous bikes in the past.

Lili said...

Hi Belinda,
you bring up an excellent point -- no debt after Christmas! I just couldn't imagine having to still pay for gifts several months after Christmas. And I'm sure no one that I give a gift to would want me to spend myself into debt on their behalf..

Lili said...

Hi Kris,
somehow, I just got on their mailing list. And now about 5 or 6 times per year, I get a postcard from Kohl's with a $10 off $10 purchase coupon attached. I know that if you sign up for their email and rewards prigram, they'll email you 1 $10 off coupon. But I've never done that (I didn't want my inbox filled with ads and notices).

Good luck finding a bike for your son, at a good price! I think you're right, end of summer, you should be able to score a good deal someplace.

Precious People Preschool said...

Good job on the Christmas shopping .:) I have several gifts already I need to access and go from their. This is totally off topic but when I was reading your amazing July grocery shopping. I was going to let you know that you can make your own powdered sugar if you run out. You probably already know this but just in case. You put a cup of granulated sugar in the blender blend until it turns to powder then add 1 tablespoon of corn starch and blend again. Some homemade things need a binding agent that is what the corn starch is for . Great job on staying in your grocery budget. Learning so much
on your blog.I am going to try your brownie bites sound wonderful and GF stuff is so much money.

Lili said...

Hi Patti,
I've used my coffee mill to make powdered sugar, in the past. Mine comes out just slightly grainier than store-bought, but it does work in a pinch. Thanks for the tip on the cornstarch!

Liz @ Economies of Kale said...

I've started thinking about Christmas presents but because most of them will be food I haven't started making them yet. Also, my sister is getting married in November, so I've been wracking my brains for a present for them!

It's never too early!

Lili said...

Hi Liz,
Never too early is right! Your homemade food gifts will surely be appreciated. Will you do the same items you made last year, or are you planning all new items?

cathie3914 said...

I'm glad you are getting a nice stock pile together.

I have a few presents -- not many though - need to get on this!

I am hoping to splurge and buy my family some to do together kinda presents this year, instead of "things" - we will see how the budget actually feels about that though - hahahaha ;)

I need to make a list of how I need for --- like ASAP :)

Be Blessed,

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