HDYDI: Christmas Shopping

I know, you’re thinking I’m nuts talking about Christmas in July when it’s like 135 degrees outside.  But, you asked how I do it, and this is how I roll.

Christmas has traditionally been a season full of activity around here.  Mostly the good kind.  I find, however, that I enjoy the season even more (if that is at all possible) when I take some of the stressers out of it.  Namely, gift buying.  Here’s how we do it:


1.  We’ve adopted the one gift per child rule.  Between grandparents, aunts/uncles, Godparents and us, my children are not lacking in the gift department.  We ask each of them to give only one gift and we follow the rule ourselves.  Even Santa only brings one big gift – he’s a rule follower!  The reindeers happen to sneak in a few stocking stuffers when he’s not looking, but they’re forgiven.  What we’ve found is that we’re able to really focus on each child – to take some care and put some real thought into their gift.  It has been a wonderful experience.  Our children are always delighted by the gift, our wallets are not empty and we all feel that there wasn’t Christmas gluttony.  Because I really hate that feeling.  Gorging on gifts.  Truly, that excess makes me sick to my stomach.

2.  I have an ongoing list on my phone.  When I see something or a relative or friend mentions something they love or want, I write it down…right then.  It makes the gift selection much easier instead of just buying a gift off the rack with a week left to shop.

3.  I shop early.  Like now!  In fact, I’ll be buying a gift next week when it goes on sale.  We’ve found that spacing out the purchases make the pinch not so much come December.

4.  I don’t charge it if I can help it.  And, if I do, I pay off the balance the next month.  Nothing is worse than the January credit card hangover.  Been there, done that, not doing it again.

5.  The day after Christmas, I hit the sales.  Believe it or not, I actually do have a few gifts tucked away for this year already.  But, I am purposeful in the buying.  A sale is fantastic – trust me, I love them as much as the next person – but I am learning to ask myself this very important question:  Am I buying this just because it’s on sale or because it’s what I came in to buy?  Always go with the latter folks.  This lesson is a work in progress for me.

6.  We stay away from Black Friday like the plague.  Just like we skip “tax-free weekend”, too.  It just isn’t worth it.  Half the time (well, maybe more than that) you can get the same “sales” on the internet.  I like shopping in my pajamas.

7.  The internet is my friend.  I have a few tried and true stores that are on my internet browser history permanently.  I’m also their follower on Twitter and I like them on FB.  All that adds up to savings when they post a sale.  And, as my dad says, “9 out of 9 times your favorite thing will go on sale.”  Shopping with littles in tow is usually a recipe for major stress.  Doing it all during naptime while listening to Casting Crowns?  Way more fun.

8.  I try very hard to buy local, buy from a self-employed vendor or make it myself.  Yeah, it’s good for the economy, but I love the personal factor, too.  I’ve bought and made some great gifts this way.

9.  We always participate in the tree of giving at church.  There have been several years, Scott and I opted not to buy gifts for one another and bought for an entire family instead.  The kids really enjoy the shopping for other kids!

10.  Mostly, I just try to remember why we buy gifts.  Why we give.  It is so stinkin’ easy to get caught up in the stuff.  Peeling away the reason why is much harder.  Every year, we try to do another activity that refocuses our minds and hearts on the reason for the season.  And every year I am grateful we make the effort.


  1. Leanne on September 7, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    I just knew if I searched through your archives, I’d find an awesome post about staying sane while Christmas shopping!! Thank you!

    Did you adopt the one gift per child rule from the very first child? I am really struggling and striving to be a good steward with my money this year and to really focus my heart and my family on the true meaning of Christmas. Perhaps that’s why I’m searching for this topic at midnight in September! 🙂 We only have a 3 year old (he’ll be 4 at Christmas) and a 16 month old (she’ll be 20 months at Christmas). So far, we haven’t really been “overboard” with presents, but we’ve definitely done more than one present for them! This seems like such a bold leap. I am certainly convicted to do so, but it will still be kind of hard.

    And if this isn’t too personal, do you have a price range that you like to stick to per child? Just curious. I know every family is different, too! I’m just trying to figure all this out! 🙂

    Anyway, thanks again for your inspiring words!

  2. Kathryn on September 8, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Leanne, we didn’t adopt the 1 gift/child until a few years ago. The gift giving was spiraling out of control between g’parents, aunts/uncles and godparents. However, this year, we plan on purchasing each of the kids three gifts going with the whole three gifts from the wise man analogy. Gold – for the gift they really want; frankincense – for something spiritual and myrrh – something for their body (lotions, etc.) Santa will still make an appearance and leave some small goodies in their stockings, but nothing major. I collect that stuff all year. As for a dollar amount, we set a budget for the shopping, but it’s not the same for every kid. Our biggest challenge, hands down, is reigning in family. We also adopted the “for every gift that comes in, two have to go out” rule. That has helped tremendously and the kids learn a lesson in stewardship.

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