Birthdays, Anniversaries, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, and Christmas. What do they all have in common? Presents! Between our 8 kids, dh and I, My parents, his parents, my brothers, now my sister in law and their soon to be 2 kids that means A LOT of presents. And thats not including the various birthday parties the kids get invited to through out the year either. Since we aren't Santa and own our own Toy Shop, this requires strategic planning.
For Christmas I start shopping in July. Its when the best sales are. I discovered this when I was 16 and have done it that way ever since. For instance I bought a Remote Control car for $5, normally $30. That will be for one of my brothers for Christmas. Not only do I save money, I miss all the crowds at Christmas time. The day after Christmas is a great day to shop for birthdays. One year I got a Fur Real Pet for my dds birthday at 80% off.
I sign up for newsletters and email lists to be alerted to special deals and coupons. Kohls is a great one for this, I get a $10 off $10 a couple times a year. Bookcloseouts.com has a huge sale every month. Right now Religious books are on sale, I will be getting some for both my mother and Mother in law. If you buy things repeatedly that have points, like coke products you can get free items from those points.
We budget and pay only cash. We do enjoy shopping for charity too. We will budget for that and let the kids do the shopping. Its really nice if you can find someone of the same age and gender for them to shop for. They know what kids like!
We like to make gifts too, they are truly from the heart. Some of my favorite gifts I have received have been ones that dh has made me. Usually this way saves money but you have to be careful. Fabric, craft items, food supplies can get expensive. Some of the gifts I will be making for christmas this year is a fleece blanket for my youngest daughter and a dinosaur blanket for my oldest daughter. I got the one fabric as a gift and the other in a stack of fabric from the thrift store. I am also giving some doll accessories to my brothers step daughter. I used fabric left over from diapers to make those. She will be getting a couple diapers, bibs and blankets and I'll buy her a doll to go with it.
Actually I kinda do feel like Santa. All year making lists, making gifts, Filing up my closet with presents, threatening kids to be good or their presents go back to the store. I'm thinking Santa just did all the heavy lifting, it was really Mrs. Claus behind the scenes making the whole operation run smoothly.