Friday, December 11, 2015

6 Tips for Finishing Your Christmas Shopping & Wrapping Before December 1st

This post contains affiliate links.

It's two weeks before Christmas. Are you sitting by the fire, sipping cocoa and nibbling cookies while Eartha Kitt lilts through the air? Or are you still making lists and dreading the all night wrapping session on your bedroom floor on Christmas Eve?

I'm ready. You could call me and say "let's do Christmas gifts tonight!" and I'd say, "BRING IT! (and an appetizer.)"

Aside from the arrival of gifts ordered on Black Friday and Cyber Monday on Amazon, everything for 19 different people was wrapped and tucked under the tree before December 1st.
It's a Kraft Paper & Gingham Christmas this year

I've been asked several times how I do it. It's shocking to the people that know me to think that I can be two weeks early for the Big Show, the Dance, the Holiday to overachieve all other holidays, when I'm generally about 10 minutes late for everything else in my life. I suppose I should apply the principles I use  for Christmas wrapping to the other areas of my life. (glances to the star-topped tree and strokes chin thoughtfully).

It wasn't always this way. There was a time, not too many years ago, you would find me up all night Christmas Eve, sitting with legs splayed out on my bedroom floor, exhausted, back breaking but still bent over unwrapped gifts. But I've developed a system since then that I'm hopeful will help you be able to relax and enjoy your Christmas holiday.

1. Keep a list in your phone all year with names and ideas for gift giving. I use the Color Note app and create a "locked" list. It requires a short password to open so sneaky eyes don't see your ideas. Whenever that special person mentions something they'd like  or I think of the perfect something, I note it.

2. Buy ribbon and wrapping paper on sale as soon as it's available, sometimes right after Christmas, but more likely in the early Fall. Frequently I buy my ribbon in the springtime - this year it's a red gingham that was out for Valentine's Day. The best ribbon is at Costco or Sam's club - 50 yards of wired ribbon (the wired part is essential) for less than $8. My favorite paper comes from Hobby Lobby - "Brother Sister" brand. It's heavy and doesn't easily tear over box corners and my favorite feature is the 1-inch grid lines on the back side making it super easy to measure and cut quickly. It's usually on sale 50% off long before Thanksgiving.

3. Buy and reuse a collection of sturdy, nesting, gift boxes. I have at least four sets and a couple of them that are more than 20 years old and still in great shape. They speed your wrapping time, keep gifts a secret, and make a beautiful presentation. I've always gotten them at Sam's or Costco, but didn't see them either place this year. You can find some nesting gift boxes on Amazon here.

4. Keep your Christmas wrapping supplies, (boxes, paper, ribbon) in sturdy plastic tote boxes. I use the long rectangular type that easily hold the nested boxes and wrapping paper tubes. Store them in an accessible place so when the giving season begins you can get to wrappin'. I usually start in mid October.

5. Start wrapping as soon as you start buying. Keep your shopping list in your phone current so you don't forget what you've already purchased, but start wrapping and keep wrapping as more gifts enter the house. Maybe set a goal to wrap five gifts an evening. You could probably finish in a week at that pace.

6. Keep the process enjoyable for yourself. 
Nobody wants to sit alone in a room with the door closed while everyone else is having fun elsewhere. Put together a cute little basket with your wrapping essentials like sharp scissors, tape, (I prefer the Scotch Satin Finish Gift tape - less shiny tape spots to look at...) gift tags, pens, and ribbon. Do yourself a favor and get a heavy tape dispenser - big time saver.) Box your gifts in your nesting boxes and wrap on a sturdy table, (I LOVE my Lifetime 4 foot adjustable table for this...) while watching Christmas movies with your family. They won't know what's in the the boxes and you won't have to go it alone.

That's it!

The benefits to this process are multiple. Yes, you get to enjoy the season more and stress less, but you'll likely also spend less. When you're done, you're done. Don't be tempted as I was on an all day shopping trip with my BFF this week... now I have several things to return because I just don't need them. I was right in budget and I need to STAY there.

Merry early Christmas!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Does a Bear Blog in the Woods?


What's it like to come off a two year sabbatical from blogging?
I guess we'll see. Maybe a little like a bear coming out of hibernation. Where's the tree to scratch my back on...? and the berries... dipped in chocolate?

A lot has happened around here in the last two years...not all of it good...some of it really pretty stress inducing... like sending my first homeschooled kid off to a boarding high school (for awhile), sitting bedside for a month then eventually losing my mom-in-law, taking on the role of caregiver of my father-in-law, dealing with some pretty serious teen rebellion, getting our firstborn done with high school and off to college...then back again six weeks later... Dorm Room Makeover
Academy Dorm Room After Comfort of Commitment
54 Years of Comfort and Care Mom's Celebration of Life
Mom's Celebration of Life
  But there's been some pretty exciting and joy inducing stuff too. There have been lots of church activities and opportunities for service, some major holiday and birthday celebrations with the people I love the most, a pretty significant diy kitchen remodel for a ridiculously low price, a few wallet friendly weddings and showers for friends, lots of budget conscious travel, several tasty new food concoctions, some major room makeovers on a dime, a new puppy, and even our own 25th wedding anniversary and vow renewal just this summer. Rustic Vintage Backyard Wedding Reception
Rustic Vintage Backyard Wedding Reception DIY Kitchen Makeover on tiny budget
My DIY Kitchen of My Dreams on a tiny budget Surprise Funky Vintage Teen Bedroom Makeover
Surprise Funky Vintage Teen Bedroom Makeover Burlap & Mason Jar DIY Wedding with Paper Flower Accents
Burlap and Mason Jar DIY Wedding with Paper Flower Accents Wedding Cake with Paper Flowers for 125 guests for less than $100
Wedding Cake for 125 for less than $100 with Paper Flower Accents 25th Anniversary Vintage Vow Renewal
25th Anniversary Backyard Vow Renewal Aqua & Orage Lunch with the Author of Mama Needs A Do-Over
Mama Needs a Do-Over Luncheon with Author

I've put off returning to blogging until I had things "just right". Trying to decide whether or not to dip into my tiny savings and hire a Pro to redesign my blog, frustration over the elimination of the offline blog editor I had been using successfully, reserving a spot with another blog host, but then not knowing how to make the leap, so it was just easier to put off the re-entry. Until now. I just can't pass up a good anniversary date. And all hibernations must come to an end. Black Bear siting at Cade's Cove in Tennessee
Out of hibernation looking for a back scratch.
So... if you don't expect it to be pretty and flashy maybe you won't be disappointed. My hope is that you'll find at least a few Pin-able ideas and how-to's in the near future. I'm just here to help.

Thanks, mom and my other reader, for sticking around and not deleting this bookmark. (Do people bookmark sites anymore???)  I'll try my best not to disappoint.

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