Friday, December 11, 2015

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

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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!

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