50: Day Fifty Checkup

Today, let’s take some time to check our progress. How are you doing with the first 50 days of preparation for Christmas? Do you know where you’re spending Christmas this year, or are you playing host/ess? Menu? Guests?

Have you scheduled a family portrait sitting and selected/ordered Christmas cards?

Are you handmaking gifts this year? Knitting projects? Soap? Exploding cards?

Have you tried at least one new cookie recipe? Please say that you have! Everyone loves cookies!

Make your lists and check them twice! Put them all in one place: a notebook/planner or PDA/smartphone. Stay on top of it this year and don’t be caught by surprise a month from now.

Photo courtesy of Adam Smith

60: The “Buy Nothing” Christmas

This is a novel but necessary concept for many people in this economic climate. Forced by circumstance (lay-off, bankruptcy, foreclosure, health problems, other catastrophes,) many Americans will be having a “Buy Nothing” Christmas, or at least a “Buy a WHOLE LOT LESS” Christmas this year.

Even if you aren’t under tremendous economic pressure, there are many ways to save or spend very little this holiday season.

  1. Holiday meals – In your meal planning, go a little lighter on the calorie load. If you want to splurge on Christmas, but stay within your normal budget, plan extremely frugal meals around the holidays. Breakfasts and lunches can be your real money-savers. Learn to make real oatmeal! Flavor with milk and jam or honey. For lunch, pasta dishes are some of the most low-cost meals you can make. Burritos or wraps are great lunch alternatives, too. A great dinner is homemade soup and homemade bread!
  2. Cards – Make your own. It’s just silly to spend $3-5 on a card at Hallmark!
  3. Wrapping paper – Use brown craft paper or plain white paper to wrap gifts. Use twine or raffia to tie up the package. If you are a stamper, let your imagination run wild! Make a matching card! Kids love to decorate gifts with markers and stickers, too.
  4. Have a potluck dinner with friends. Spend what you would’ve on dinner anyway.
  5. Adopt a “no gifts” policy for the adults and focus on the kids.

You can still have a wonderful Christmas without blowing your budget! Start planning now!

Photo courtesy of Joshua Davis. Thanks!

88: Family Picture Prep

Start thinking about having a family photo taken for your Christmas cards. What will you wear? Do you like to coordinate colors or have matching clothes for the kids? Start thinking about what you want your photo to look like so you have plenty of time to really shop the sales, knit matching scarves, or sew dresses and bowties.

Family photo ideas:

  • black turtlenecks and jeans
  • winter scene in the snow with matching scarves
  • beach scene with jeans, white shirts, and bare feet; scatter shiny red Christmas balls in the sand
  • get the family dog in the picture with a matching sweater
  • choose three colors and have everyone stick to those colors for a unified look

Do you have a favorite photo idea? Share it with everyone in a comment!

92: Custom Christmas Cards

Holiday Cards
I love to get Christmas cards! I’m not so great at sending them every year, though. I think the motivator to actually sending them out is to have a great card that you are proud of. My favorite option is to upload a photo somewhere and get cool stuff printed using that photo.

One site that I love is VistaPrint. They have all kinds of crazy specials all the time and lots of templates. If you want to try something out, you might only have to pay for shipping!

I’ve used them for printing save-the-date magnets (these were awesome!), post-it notepads, and TONS of postcard projects. They also have yard signs, car magnets, t-shirts, business cards, notepads, and notecards just to name a few. Get a custom yard sign for your next party or a car magnet for your kid’s high school band!

Give VistaPrint a try! The price is right!