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Getting a Head Start on the Holidays

As we near the end of August, many things are happening. School is starting again for many parents and students. Summer is starting to come to its end to bring cooler weather, and the year is quickly (more quickly than I can believe sometimes) nearing its end. Though all of these things are happening, for some people, the holidays are still a distant thought among the general everyday chaos.

Over the last few years, I’ve made it a priority to make a spreadsheet to take shopping on Black Friday. I know it sounds a little extreme, but looking ahead at advertisements for items you are interested in buying and knowing what stores you want to go to ahead of time makes black Friday shopping a little bit less stressful.

Though some of you may be rolling your eyes reading about Thanksgiving and Christmas already, it’s because I’m starting my Christmas shopping and gift-buying early this year. Though August is not the earliest I’ve ever started, it’s something I’m constantly thinking about.

Initially, my dad’s side of the family does a blind draw where each adult gets a gift for another adult, and everyone gets a gift for the younger kids. (Of course we also get gifts for our parents separately, and our grandparents.) This usually happens mid to late summer, so everyone knows who they’re getting gifts for, and there’s time to add it into the Christmas gift budget.

This not only saves money for everyone, it makes finding the perfect gift a little easier. It’s also kind of fun getting to know your relatives a little better when you’re buying something for them and possibly have to do some of your own recon to find out what they might be interested in for a gift.

On my mom’s side of the family, we usually buy gifts for couples, ad then for the kids. Our families are ever-expanding as we all get older, so getting gifts for the kids seems to be the biggest challenge at times, although they are all under the age of 7 so that does help quite a bit.

This year, my youngest sister and I decided we would be make some of their gifts and divide and conquer the work it’ll entail. My sewing skills aren’t the greatest, but I hope that starting to work on these gifts now will make it easier to know if I’ll need to buy a gift later. (Always a good idea to leave some wiggle room in case things don’t go the way you thought they would!)

Black Friday does tend to have a lot of great deals for many different types of things, but if you’re a budget-conscious person like I am, taking the time to buy a gift here or there is the best thing to do. I know for some people, spending hundreds of dollars during the holidays is not a realistic situation.

You can also find some really great do-it-yourself gifts that are just as good as something from the store. I’m thinking about making some homemade body scrubs or bath bombs and some hot cocoa mixes. Pinterest is a great resource for all things DIY!

I hope this post has given you some ideas to start working on Christmas gifts, and hopefully will take some of the stress of the holidays off your shoulders. This year is flying by, so don’t let the holidays creep up on you!


When do you start your Christmas or holiday shopping? Does your family do something similar for gift giving and receiving? Do you like to make gifts for your loved ones? Sound off in the comments below! 


  • Mary Spangler

    Mary was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana. She currently lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband, SFC Spangler, their two sons, and one cat. Previous duty stations include Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, Rivanna Station, Virginia, and Fort Shafter, Hawaii.


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