Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Christmas list!

A new list!

Time to get ready for Christmas?
Oh yeah, wayyy late! Start stocking up on things that were hard to find last year. I started ordering Hello Kitty stuff on ebay months ago.

1. Get the kids to make a Christmas list.
2. Make your own list of things you would like them to have.
3. Talk to other people who give gifts to these people and give them ideas. Try to get them to settle on something they are happy with. For instance, my grandmother will not buy toys. Usually she sends money and I buy clothes for the kids. If you tell them what you are going to do with the money they send that is best.
4. Plan your sales! Look online. Look often to see what's going to be available. Check the Black Friday sales!
5. Check to see who price matches. This can save you a fortune at Christmas. Circuit City price matches + 10% so if Best Buy has it for 100 bucks, you can get it at Circuit City for $90.00. Sometimes even better. Last year we got Zunes for two kids that were a better price than you can buy them for NOW-- a less popular color, last two in stock... clearance!!
6. Check out Ebay. Ebay is attractive because your item comes... already wrapped! I thought about putting everything under the tree as is, and then reading out the sender's names for each kid, kind of a scavenger hunt too! It also is a great place to get good prices, especially on used games your kids haven't played yet. Check around, the earlier the better, as when it gets closer to Christmas people will pay anything (remember Jingle All The Way?") Conversely, selling things on Ebay is very profitable in November and December. Plan on a fast shipper.
7. If you ship overseas, plan waaayyy ahead. Beg friends for wrapping paper if you can not find it in stores. Remember the longer you wait the more spendy it will be. If you ship domestically, the same principle applies. Get it done asap and in the mail and out of your hair.
8. Gifts for the kids are usually easy, but what about grandma? She has everything! Except enough pictures of your kids. Next list will be some ideas for you there. Takes some planning ahead sometimes, but if you just take a pic of the family, blow it up big enough for her to see it (8x10) and a card, that's a terrific gift too (frame it!) You are supposed to be photographing this time of year anyway!
9. Do as much ahead as you can. When you have some spare time make desserts to freeze. When you're home alone, wrap presents. If you have something special in mind, you can order it now and have plenty of time.
10. Mail the cards out! This gets tougher to make time for every year... but if you are smart, technology can help. Type up your Christmas list (does it change often? Probably not) in a database or format that your labels will take (if you're not sure, buy the whole sheet labels and cut them up, don't spend hours trying to line them up!)
and print it. It is already done for next year (with updates when someone moves).
11. Plan relaxing evenings at home. So many Christmas parties and events (concerts, performances) are scheduled around this time that we sometimes don't get a chance to have marshmallows by the fire with hot cocoa. Your traditions are what your family remembers... make some that last (and take pictures!!)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Secret Hurricane Preparedness

Ok so there are a few other little things I like to do to make sure my electricity-free or electricity-lite environment is still pleasant.
1. Buy a cooked ham. Can sit out on the table for munching for long periods of time.
2. New things for the kids to do. I get stuff on clearance - kits, supplies, raw materials - and save it for summer and if we didn't use it for summer we have a hurricane box to raid. This time I got and oversized coloring book that had 3 even larger posters inside. Then new "eraseable" crayons. Fun!
3. Eating by candlelight is fun. Make it a treat.
4. Buy munchies you don't usually spring for. I got some Pepperidge Farm assorted cookies and some snack mixes that sure brighten up a dark day!
5. Crank flashlight/radio for music.

We also had the bonus of having friends over who brought a kitten. Instant entertainment in that!!