I like to knock Christmas shopping and wrapping off of my "to-do" list before Thanksgiving. There are so many reasons for maintaining this practice year after year. The rewards include: peace of mind and the ability to enjoy December, sleeping in on Black Friday, more savings left over from the budget since late fall has many great store and online discounts, the ability to avoid lines and crowds in the store, more time in December to bake goodies for neighbors, friends, the elderly, and even our local firehouse or police station. I used to think that my mom was a little nuts for Christmas shopping in September and October. Now that I have my own family and have done this for five years, her wisdom endures as I enjoy its benefits. Try it once, It'll take a bit of planning and forethought, but if you start with a list in your purse and keep your eyes peeled from August on, you will be surprised how painlessly shopping is complete.
This year, I have created little themed gift baskets based on their personalities/interests of couples or kiddo's on our gift list. The first three I have (nearly) complete I will share below, along with some tips for grouping items and finding savings in the store.
#1 The Kitchen Lover's Basket (or Gourmet Basket, or Cook's Basket)
For this one, I picked up a crate on clearance at Michaels (who frequently has 50-60% off of baskets) since the recipient is into wood and metal decor. The idea came from the couple's love for being in the kitchen together. One loves to cook and one loves to bake/clean (a match made in heaven). I started out with some dishtowels, mugs, and their favorite tea at Target. The next stop was Homegoods for some waffle mix, himalayan sea salt, gourmet seasonings, soap dispenser, and french baking sheet. I will also include a few recipe cards with heirloom family recipes that I have hoarded over the years. When I am ready to deliver, I will fill the bottom with some kraft paper shreds that will create a nice complete look, tuck in the card, and tie a big raffia bow on the handle.
#2 Keepsake Crafts for Littles
For the mama and kiddos that love to do crafts together. Put together some papers and paints, stamp pads and crayons or maybe clay, as well as safety scissors, and glue sticks to help them create memories and keepsakes together. Handprint crafts are a huge deal with many of my girlfriends who love to track their kid's growth from baby to grade school, so I will also print off some ideas for seasonal hand and thumbprint art. My suggestion for this basket is to shop a Hobby Lobby or Michael's sale on crayola, or go to Wal-Mart for everything. Also, when the recipients are under the age of 8 PLEASE help moms out and only buy washable everything ;-)
#3 Rainy Day Basket (Cozy Day Basket)
With threats of El Niño looming in the coming months, I thought this theme might be apt for the coming year. I included things that remind me of cozy days when it's dark outside and the sound of pouring water drowns out thoughts and ambitions of errands and chores. Slipper socks, aromatic tea, cocoa mix, soy candles, vintage I Love Lucy DVD, vintage graphic jigsaw puzzle, books, and adult coloring book/sudoku book (with colored pencils and pen) I will throw in a Costco mini mag-light for sudden power outage and wrap up in cellophane and a pretty bow.
This theme can be changed up to suit anyone's taste or hobbies. If you buy some of these items at Costco and make multiple baskets, you will save money and spread the love. If you want to make this cheaper, you can include home-made cookies and some more food items. I also suggest card or board games for families (again, this one all depends on your recipient)
Happy planning and cheers to a peaceful season focused on the gift that Jesus was and is to us all.