holiday sanity http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/14926/all en-US 5 Steps to Stress-Free Holiday Gift Giving http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-stress-free-holiday-gift-giving <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-steps-to-stress-free-holiday-gift-giving" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/gifts-78718164.jpg" alt="gifts" title="gifts" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What do you get when you mix a media-saturated society with easy credit and the biggest holiday of the year? Pure chaos. We talk a good game in this country about simplifying the holidays, returning to a less material-focused celebration, and reducing our holiday-induced stress and consumption habits. But around October of each year the same thing happens &mdash; advertisers ramp up their messaging, expectations slowly grow, the familiar frenzy builds, and before it&rsquo;s all over we&rsquo;re left with empty wallets, full closets, and a nervous twitch that lasts til June. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-gifts-that-save-money?ref=seealso">25 Gifts That Save Money</a>)</p> <p>There must be a better way. Maybe this year it&rsquo;s time to draw a line in the sand and embrace a simpler idea of holiday gift-giving. Instead of racing to buy bigger, better, and more, we could reset our expectations, recalibrate our standards, and enjoy what we have more completely. If you&rsquo;re ready to re-script your holiday, here are five steps to saner gift-giving. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spend-almost-nothing-on-gifts-this-year?ref=seealso">10 Gift Ideas That Cost Almost Nothing</a>)</p> <h2>1. Set Limits</h2> <p>Without real or self-imposed limits, it&rsquo;s much easier to fall victim to the pull of advertising and marketing. The lights, the music, the sales, the legions of shoppers spending like a Kardashian &mdash; it&rsquo;s enough to loosen the wallets of even the most frugal among us. Set reasonable quantity and price limits per person, and stick to them.</p> <h2>2. Promote the Idea of Primary and Secondary Gifts</h2> <p>Some kids have an amazing knack for choosing the priciest toys and gadgetry without understanding the six-figure salaries and second mortgages such annual levels of gift-giving would require. Set expectations with kids about price and allow for one primary gift and a few secondary (i.e., lower cost) gifts or stocking-stuffers.</p> <h2>3. Choose a Charity</h2> <p>Few things in life can take the wind out of our consumerist sails like seeing true need. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/giving-to-charity-is-great-but-how-do-you-pick-one">Choose a charity</a> and donate your time and money (or both) throughout the year. It will help make every gift seem precious and inoculate you against the worst of the holiday shopping madness. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/31-great-gifts-that-keep-on-giving?ref=seealso">31 Gifts That Keep On Giving</a>)</p> <h2>4. Finish Early</h2> <p>To avoid the most stressful holiday logistics, finish shopping early. Pledge to enter a mall in December only if George Clooney is manning a kissing booth or you&rsquo;ve won a sweepstakes and have to pick up your prize in person. Spend your mall-free time organizing, wrapping, or doing something completely off-the-wall (like taking a nap).</p> <h2>5. Do Things Instead of Buying Things</h2> <p>In our hectic lives, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-money-really-can-buy-happiness">time is the most valuable gift we can give</a> and one that, delivered without expectations, can make the biggest impact. Break out the board games, play charades, build a snowman, or take a weekend trip with the whole family. Time together (with the advertisers muted and mall nowhere in sight) can calm frazzled nerves and help busy families reconnect. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-own-coupons-20-great-free-gift-ideas?ref=seealso">20 Great, Free Gift Ideas</a>)</p> <p>Holidays don&rsquo;t have to be the most stressful time of year &mdash; and we don&rsquo;t have to let December be open season on our wallets and our savings accounts. This year, maybe it&rsquo;s time to choose <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-beat-holiday-shopping-stress">simplicity over stress</a>, moderation over excess, and cash over credit. This holiday season there&rsquo;s still time to scale back and take a big step away from the mall&hellip;I mean, unless George Clooney is doing that kissing booth thing.</p> <p><em>Have you scaled back your holiday shopping this year? What strategies do you use to keep holiday gift-giving in-check?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-stress-free-holiday-gift-giving">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wise-bread-gift-guide-gifts-that-save-money">25 Gifts That Save Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-frugal-gifts-for-the-person-who-needs-a-nap">9 Frugal Gifts for the Person Who Needs a Nap</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-ready-for-christmas-7-things-you-should-do-today">Get Ready for Christmas: 7 Things You Should Do Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/early-holiday-shopping-why-i-finish-by-thanksgiving">Early Holiday Shopping: Why I Finish by Thanksgiving</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-42-ways-the-7-deadly-sins-are-keeping-you-poor">Flashback Friday: 42 Ways the 7 Deadly Sins Are Keeping You Poor</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle Shopping experience gifts holiday sanity holiday shopping Wed, 28 Nov 2012 11:36:43 +0000 Kentin Waits 957727 at http://www.wisebread.com Get Ready for Christmas: 7 Things You Should Do Today http://www.wisebread.com/get-ready-for-christmas-7-things-you-should-do-today <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/get-ready-for-christmas-7-things-you-should-do-today" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5299156140_2a5a5b7c59_z_0.jpg" alt="holiday family" title="holiday family" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="145" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Take your current schedule and imagine adding Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, and holiday travel all at once. I suspect you'll thank yourself come mid-December if you use the extra time you have now to get ready for Christmas. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/early-holiday-shopping-why-i-finish-by-thanksgiving">Early Holiday Shopping:&nbsp;Why&nbsp;I Finish by Thanksgiving</a>)</p> <h3>1. Set and Fund Your Christmas Budget</h3> <p>Every year there is a segment of the population that simply charges their gifts on their credit cards and then spends the rest of the next year trying to get caught up on their payments. Before you do any Christmas shopping, you need to determine <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-rules-for-planning-your-most-affordable-christmas-ever">how much you can afford</a>. From there, decide who to include and exclude from your list. To make it easy, try setting a per-person budget. For example, you'll buy $75 worth of gifts for each kid and $35 for each niece or nephew. You're much less likely to overspend if you've predetermined how much you'll spend on each person on your list. Don't forget to check it twice.</p> <h3>2. Start Making Homemade Gifts</h3> <p>Homemade and personalized Christmas gifts are the most memorable gifts you can give. Why? Because the recipient knows that you've invested a significant amount of your time. I often think about doing homemade gifts, but realize I don't have the time to complete a project. By brainstorming homemade ideas now, you're more likely to have the time necessary to complete the project.</p> <h3>3. If You Do Christmas Lists, Ask People to Get You Their Lists</h3> <p>My family does lists, and my wife's family does not. If you do ask people for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/giving-back-to-those-not-necessarily-on-your-christmas-list">Christmas lists</a>, go ahead and contact them now. Inevitably, there is going to be one person who takes their time getting a list to you. That's less likely to be frustrating if you have an early start.</p> <h3>4. Start Watching for Sale Items</h3> <p>If you don't subscribe to the Sunday paper, you might want to pick one up over the next few months. Set aside 10 minutes every Sunday to glance through the ads and coupons. If you find an item on your list, snag it while it's on sale. Otherwise, what's probably going to happen is that you'll run to the store on the 24th and pay too much on a gift you don't want to buy.</p> <p>Our personal goal is to have all our Christmas shopping done by the last day of November. That way we don't have to fight against the holiday crowds.</p> <h3>5. Get Started on Your Christmas Cards</h3> <p>Imagine how amazing it would feel if all your Christmas cards were ready to send by Thanksgiving &mdash; wouldn't that be a relief? Go ahead and set a target goal of when you'd like to finish all your cards. Then create some type of plan to be done by that date. You could either mark off a morning on your calendar or do a little bit at a time.</p> <h3>6. Fill Up the Freezer</h3> <p>There are a lot of great meals that you can freeze ahead of time so you have food available when the holiday season gets really busy. One way to fill the freezer is to double or triple some of your recipes you'll be preparing in the next month. Serve a single portion, and freeze the extra portion. Another option is to block out a full cooking day where you make as many meals as possible and freeze them for the busy holiday season.</p> <h3>7. Practice Saying 'No,' and Offer an Alternative When Necessary</h3> <p>Most people I know spend their Christmas season busy doing things they didn't want to do in the first place. Start today by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-straightforward-ways-to-say-no">saying no to commitments</a> you know will cause you stress over the holidays.</p> <p>If saying no is hard, then offer an alternative. I won't be able to ____, but it would work if I could ____ instead.</p> <p>With an early start, you can survive the hectic holiday rush. I'm sure that in December you won't regret any of the time you've spent while the pace of life is comparatively slower.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/craig-ford">Craig Ford</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-ready-for-christmas-7-things-you-should-do-today">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chinese-money-habits-how-my-culture-influences-my-attitudes-toward-money">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-thoughtful-and-frugal-personalized-gift-ideas">25 Thoughtful and Frugal Personalized Gift Ideas</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-frugal-gifts-for-the-person-who-needs-a-nap">9 Frugal Gifts for the Person Who Needs a Nap</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-not-buy-something-just-because-you-can-afford-it">Do not buy something just because you can afford it</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-money-really-can-buy-happiness">6 Ways Money Really Can Buy Happiness</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips Lifestyle Shopping Christmas holiday gifts holiday sanity Thanksgiving Tue, 30 Oct 2012 10:24:34 +0000 Craig Ford 955133 at http://www.wisebread.com Early Holiday Shopping: Why I Finish by Thanksgiving http://www.wisebread.com/early-holiday-shopping-why-i-finish-by-thanksgiving <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/early-holiday-shopping-why-i-finish-by-thanksgiving" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/holiday_mall_crowd.jpg" alt="Holiday mall crowd" title="Holiday mall crowd" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I&rsquo;m not the busiest guy on the block. Many of my peers are true multitaskers who juggle families, career, side businesses, and various twisty-bendy Pilates and yoga appointments. I&rsquo;m not that guy. I enjoy my downtime, and I defend it ruthlessly &mdash; even during the holidays. To make sure I dodge that the distant roll of holiday thunder, I do my shopping early. I usually target Thanksgiving as my personal deadline for having every last gift wrapped, bow tied, and holiday card artfully addressed. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/36-green-gift-wrapping-ideas">36 Green Gift Wrapping Ideas</a>)</p> <p>That final month is just for me, and I&rsquo;ll admit it &mdash; I mock the maddening crowds as I relax with my eggnog. I chuckle at the stressed shoppers, the traffic jams, and the long lines as I dig into my first cheese log and plan my re-gifting strategy for last year&rsquo;s fruitcakes.</p> <p>Why am I so focused on early and efficient holiday shopping? First, shopping early lets me relax about the entire process. I start gingerly &mdash; picking up that perfect gift during some random sale in July or August. Then I ramp up gradually and find a few more gifts in September and October, I&rsquo;ll arrange a few gift baskets in early November, and wrap things up by the time the grocery stores are pushing Butterballs and cranberry sauce.</p> <p>Planning ahead and starting early lets me take my time and find exactly the right gifts, too &mdash; without all the competition and cold sweat. I&rsquo;m sure I&rsquo;m not the only person out there who subconsciously shops for holiday gifts all year long, secretly collecting and storing just the perfect thing for mom, dad, or the kids. It&rsquo;s an art, isn&rsquo;t it?</p> <p>Getting a head start on the throngs of over-caffeinated shoppers (are they foaming at the mouth or is that just a bit of latte on their lips?) also lets me enjoy the holiday season. That hard-won week or two off of work is for sleeping in, reconnecting with friends and family, having snowball fights, sledding, deciding how much holiday weight gain is acceptable (five pounds), and burning at least one apple pie. Why would I want to trade a night of watching <em>Miracle on 34<sup>th</sup> Street</em> for an evening of living <em>Nightmare on Elm Street</em> at a mall or big box store?</p> <p>Finally, at the risk of getting flamed, I still believe the best deals aren&rsquo;t found during the holidays. I don&rsquo;t care how vast the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-shouldnt-buy-this-black-friday">Black Friday</a> crowds are, how desperate the retailers are, or what the economists say about consumer confidence. If the concept of supply and demand holds any water at all, the best bargains are found right after the holidays or at any other time of year. When you factor in the logistics of battling the crowds, the stress, the credit crunch of buying everything at once, the last-minute splurges just to push through to the finish line, holiday shopping during the holidays is a budget-buster.</p> <p>So, let&rsquo;s put a bow on this idea &mdash; shopping early lets you take a more leisurely approach to the holiday season, gives you time enough to find just the right gifts, keeps you a safe distance from stressed shoppers wielding sharp credit cards, and even gives you a running chance at scoring better deals.<span> </span>Isn&rsquo;t it time to reclaim the holidays and snatch December from the jaws of the mall escalator?</p> <p>Just imagine yourself reading by the fire on December 20 &mdash; no panicked online buying at 3:00 am, no catalogs spread out on the dining room table, no Scotch Tape stuck in your hair. Listen &mdash; the honking horns off in the distance almost sound like bells ringing.</p> <p><em>How early do you start your holiday shopping? Are you a year-round shopper and if so, what advice do you have for readers who might be trying to get a head start this year?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/early-holiday-shopping-why-i-finish-by-thanksgiving">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-frugal-skills-you-need-to-survive-black-friday">8 Frugal Skills You Need to Survive Black Friday</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/december-deals-that-are-better-than-black-friday">December Deals That Are Better Than Black Friday</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/all-about-black-friday">All About Black Friday</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-30-brilliant-ways-to-survive-black-friday-madness">Flashback Friday: 30 Brilliant Ways to Survive Black Friday Madness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surprising-ways-to-save-even-more-on-black-friday">Surprising Ways to Save Even More on Black Friday</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping black friday holiday sanity holiday shopping Wed, 26 Oct 2011 10:24:22 +0000 Kentin Waits 760250 at http://www.wisebread.com