What I’ve learned this month

  • I’ve learned that sometimes you just need a break from the blog and even if you don’t write for almost a month, people will still come to the blog. You guys amaze me and I love you all for it.
  • I’ve learned that you can rebuild relationships.
  • I’ve learned that spending a little extra on really good food saves me in the long run because I don’t crave crappy fast food as much.
  • I’ve learned that I will never knit Christmas gifts as fast as I think I can.
  • I’ve learned that even my evil black cat can sense when I’m sad and will come comfort me.
  • I’ve learned that you don’t need to decorate for Christmas to have a festive holiday.
  • I’ve learned that I hate Christmas shopping for my husband and from now on we’ll just go shopping together, even if it’s not a surprise.
  • I’ve learned I can make a damn good turkey dinner and that oven roasting bags are AWESOME!
  • I’ve learned that I can pull off a successful holiday meal with a bit of planning and a husband who cleans (Thank you Jeff).
  • I’ve learned that all you need to get your friends out of the house is bacon, cheese and chocolate (I’ll explain soon).
  • I’ve learned that I can’t always do it all and sometimes I need to accept that.
  • I’ve learned that it’s not about how much you spend on a Christmas gift but how much thought and effort you put into it that counts.
  • I’ve learned that I still hate shopping, except at Stew Leonards.
  • I’ve learned that a hot cup of coffee and some good kinmates make the season bright.
  • I’ve learned that turning 30 is not nearly as bad as turning 29.

While it may not be evident on the blog, it has been a very productive December for me. I’ll catch you all up soon. What did you learn during the holidays?

WARNING: The holidays are coming!

Today is the last day of September which means that tomorrow is October first. Soon it will be Halloween, then Thanksgiving and Christmas is right around the corner. Now, I’m sure you all know that these holidays are the same time every year. Yet, every year we all start to panic. We didn’t save as much as we wanted. We didn’t start making gifts in May like we promised ourselves we would (my yarn was shipped today).

It’s not too late to start a plan for the holidays. There are still a lot of things you can do to make sure you don’t have to whip out those credit cards to make the holiday great.

  • Make a budget. If you haven’t been saving up all year for this, you need to figure out how much money you can scrape up for all your holiday obligations. Don’t forget Halloween and Thanksgiving. You have to pay for these things too.
  • Once you have a budget, make a list of everyone you need to buy gifts for. Don’t forget teachers, babysitters and other people that we tend to forget until the last minute. It’s because of those purchases that you end up over budget. Also jot down some ideas for each person. When out and about, look at your list to see if there is anything on sale that you could pick up early.
  • Allocate your budget between everyone on your list. If this seems impossible, maybe you need to have a family meeting at Thanksgiving and propose a secret santa instead of trying to purchase gifts for everyone.
  • If it looks like your budget for your kids is out of control, it probably is. I always think it’s funny when people buy gifts for kids and the kids end up playing with the box. I’m not suggesting that you give your kids a box but think of other things you can do instead of spending money. Consider giving the kids your time. Most of us are so busy that the one thing the kids really want is more of mom and dad’s time. Give your kids movie night with mom and dad or bowling night. Make up a cool looking coupon on the computer and wrap it up. Make up a cooking class and give that to your kids. Be creative.
  • Make things. Consider taking family photos and framing them with inexpensive frames. Create a family cookbook. Make cookies or candy. I love homemade gifts. They are cost effective but the recipient appreciates the effort you put in.
  • Be realistic. Don’t plan to make 800 pairs of mittens between now and Christmas. It’s not going to happen. You’ll stress yourself out and then end up going over budget as you rush to the mall at the last minute.

Start thinking about this now. Start budgeting for this now. Put the cards away and pay cash this year.

Sundays are for distractions

Since we are in the middle of a deep discussion of budgeting, I thought Sunday would be a good day for mild discussion. A few days ago, it hit me. We are nearing the end of September, which means it’s almost October, which means the holidays are right around the corner. I can see some of you rolling your eyes, but I start thinking about gift giving early.