If you're a TV or movie buff, you probably know the best old movies
and TV series that might have escaped someone on your gift list. If
you have cable TV, you may have access to channels that show those
old gems during the day. You could start a tape for each person, recording
only the movies and shows you think each would like, but might not
know about. This idea also works for educational, how-to, and cultural
programs. Set the timer on your VCR, if these programs are on when
you're asleep or at work.
Another idea is a family cookbook. You could be sneaky about asking
family members for their favorite recipes, add a little humor and
some pictures, and "publish" the results next Christmas. Laminating
and spiral binding are not expensive (especially if you know someone
who has the machines and will let you use them, for just the cost
Books and Videos Used books and videos make another good
gift. You can often find good books at a fraction of their new cost,
at garage sales and thrift shops. Video rental stores off great bargains
on their old stock.. If you're embarrassed to give something used
as a present, wrap them in newspaper, tie them with string, tear a
piece of cardboard for the tag, and make it a gag-gift.
We've been shopping thrift shops and garage sales for years, just
because it's fun. Our kids and grandkids are used to getting used
presents mixed in with the new. Last year, we found some golf toys
for our son. We were afraid he wouldn't have his putter with him at
Christmas, so we bought a used golf club for $2. It was an adjustable
club, that we thought was funny. It turned out that he'd been looking
all over for one of those adjustable clubs. It was his favorite present.
Pick out a "no-brainer" project to knit, crochet, tat, embroider,
latch hook, etc. The idea is to keep it handy, to work on during commercials,
long car rides, while waiting at the doctor's office, etc. My "no-brainer"
this year was hand-knit guest towels (see p. __ for directions). Even
if you don't have the time or inclination to start these right now,
this is the best time to decide what to make, while last Christmas
is fresh in your mind. Think back to what everyone got for Christmas,
which presents they liked best, what colors, sizes, and styles suited
which people. If you visited their homes, think about their decorating
styles and colors. Now is the best time to write down your impressions
of what you could make for them for next year. You'll have plenty
of time, later, to choose patterns and materials, but now is the best
time to make plans.
DO THIS MONTH
away last year's decorations, keeping out anything that needs to be
repaired or replaced. Also keep out the Christmas cards you received
for use in future projects.
Gift cards don't have to be boring. Attach them to a jar of cashews, a package of socks, or any other small gift, and it turns into something special. All year long you can search for free gift cards online and save them for Christmas gifts.
Create a Christmas kit, with replacement bulbs, ornament hooks, and leftover decorations. Add the items that need repair and the Christmas cards you saved. Keep it in a handy place, so when the mood strikes, you can jump right in.
Keep envelopes from anyone with new addresses,
or from people who weren't on your list. Later this year you can use
these to update your Christmas card list. Buy Christmas craft, yarn,
and fabric items on sale. Buy timeless gifts during after Christmas
sales (like socks, towels, etc.) Cut back the poinsettias and repot
for next year. Repot live Christmas trees and put outside. Determine
what you spent on Christmas and start a savings plan for next year.
A detailed list of what you spent last year (which was only last month)
could be very helpful in breaking the habit of running up credit card
debt that has you still paying for last Christmas next December. Be
sure to factor in the extra cost of food, travel expenses, decorations,
and long-distance phone calls. Sometimes it's the hidden cost of Christmas
that breaks the budget, rather than the gifts you buy.