It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….everywhere, literally everywhere you go. Is it just me or does it come earlier and earlier every year? It seems like Halloween isn’t even over and you start seeing Christmas decor. So this year instead of turning my head and thinking omg, I am so not ready. I decided to embrace the thought of decorating early. (See pic, this is my house, not bad for $60 spent at the Dollar Tree right?) Yes, our tree is already up!!!! since November 8th! I did this for several reasons. First of all last year was really hard emotionally and financially. I just left my husband after being Married 16 years. Just getting thru everyday was more of a priority. I put everything off but in the end with a little help I was able to have a great Christmas for my boys. Secondly, I feel like I’m just In a better position this year emotionally as well as financially. More reasons I wanted to get it out of the way because I am going back to school and working hard on a lot of projects. My boys love Christmas and my oldest son’s bday is Dec. 22 so I also have a bday the same week as Christmas…then mine is two weeks later. All of the best Christmas decorations are fully stocked. Waiting really limits the possibilities of getting what you want. As soon as Thanksgiving is over it is game on! And shopping becomes like wrestle mania! You have to fight for what you want. (Wait isn’t that true for really anything? Lol) I was able to get some awesome decor at the Dollar Tree, all of it fully stocked!!!! And super cheap got everything for $60! They really have stepped it up and got better quality items too. It would be a tragity to buy this stuff anywhere else. I think we saved around 75 percent by shopping here compared to maybe Target or Walmart Ok enough about decor…back to having an amazing Christmas on a tight budget. Here are some tips and tricks. #1 set a limit per child. Obviously older kids are going to want more expensive gifts so they may only get a few while the younger ones will get several smaller cheaper gifts. I only have young kids ages 2 and 4 so they don’t understand prices or brands which makes shopping easier. #2 Think outside of the box. Shop other stores you may have overlooked before. Ever thought to Christmas shop at Walgreens? I shop there every year to get toys. Now I don’t get all of the toys there but I finish my shopping there. I have been able to get two carts full of toys for less than $100 buy utilizing there sales with the buy two get one free or buy three get two free toys! Be on the lookout for those sales! #3 Use layaway. I usually only use Kmart for Christmas layaway but this year I think I will use Walmart and see if I can save more. The down side is not being able to put clothes on layaway so I may go to Kmart as well. Layaway is awesome because you can pay in payments and you don’t have to worry about hiding the gifts, you can pick up the week of Christmas wrap it all and find a temporary hiding spot. #4 If you are on a very tight budget and you are going through hard times and don’t see how you are going to pull off the holidays here are some ways you can get help. Call the Salvation Army and sign up for food baskets and toy giveaways. Call churches and see if they offer any help What organizations are you involved in? So many organizations offer help. My son’s school offers all kinds of resources (head start) a great program for low and moderate income kids and their families. Cal for referrals to other programs and resources. I don’t think you necessarily need to be homeless. It doesn’t hurt to call and ask. Social services can offer resources or give you some suggestions # 5 Plan early. Start as soon as possible, setting money aside and planning your Christmas budget. Also, prepare for unexpected guests and have little gifts on hand for gift giving like boxes of candy, lotions, small gift baskets, etc. #6 Start a change fund for Christmas in Jan. (While this won’t help this year it is an idea for next year so you won’t stress out last minute). How this works is put all of you change in a big jar or five gallon water jug. All of you change at the end of the day is put in it. If you save all coins you could have around $3000 on average at the end of the year. #7 Cut your budget per gift in half if you spent $20 on each giftlast year try cutting it to ten. There are so many good deals that this is easy with a little planning and you may have to shop several stores and have a little patience. #8 Does it have to be new? If you have really little kids to buy for, do they really care about the box? No, they just rip into them. They want the toy! If there is a toy your child wants that’s out of your budget you might be able to find it used on eBay or craigslist, or even a thrift store, yard sale or consignment store. Just make sure all the pieces are there and it’s clean and in good condition. You could even trade old toys for store credit to get new ones at some children’s consignment stores #9Sell old items like toys and clothing on capitalist and eBay for extra Christmas money. #10 Make gifts. If you are crafty you might be able to make things like leg warmers, scarfs, gloves, hats, blankets or jewelry. Try reusing materials. You can repurpose old clothes to make a quilt. For jewelry you might be able to redesign old costume jewelry and for leg warmers, think old sweaters. #11 Black Fiday and Cyber monday. If you can brave the long wait, crowds snd chaos uou can get some great deals. I personally like cyber monday better, it’s less stress for sure and a lot of stores offer free shipping. #12 Gift wrap cards and postage. Use flat rate priority for everything. This is a money and time save for several reasons. No weighing, if it fits it ships. Try redesigning the box to fit more. The flat rate envelopes can hold more if you make the bottom flat. Another plus, free tracking and insurance and drum roll.please, no stress, just schedule a pick up. The post office will come get it. Just print your labels at usps.gov and schedule a pick up. They will even drop the boxes off, just go to usps.gov to order supplies. Cards and gift wrap can be purchased at dollar stores. Why would u want to shop anywhere else? And spend double or even triple. You can even use fabric scraps and old ribbon to wrap gifts. Hope these tips helped relieve a little holiday stress! Wishing you and your families a wonderful holiday season!