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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Gift & Christmas Shopping Without Panic

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Gift & Christmas Shopping Without Panic


You are thinking, "who is this nut talking about Christmas shopping in August?". Well, first of all, I'm not a nut, and second of all, if you follow these steps below, you are going to have the most restful, peaceful and stress-free holiday in your entire adult life, whether you celebrate Christmas or something else! You might as well also get a handle on your general gift-buying techniques too while you're here. I'm guessing I have your attention by now.

One thing that has always unnerved me, is how our Christmas list tends to grow exponentially every year. Not only are we making more friends, but there are more children, nieces, nephews, teachers and everyone in between!...Arrrggh, we'd have to be printing our own money to get something for everyone! Here are some ideas on how NOT to break your bank!

  • Decide in January, who you are going to be buying a gift for; make a list; for my family, I buy things on-sale throughout the year (and hide these things in a closet); no last minute shopping
  • If you don't mind crowds, let me suggest that the best deals can be found on Black Friday; DO NOT go shopping on this day until you've read the Gotta Deal site along with their forums; die-hards start discussing deals up to two months early on this site
  • Visit woot.com, a site with a cult following, offering up one item (most are electronic) per day at truly rock bottom prices, and once they're gone, they're gone
  • Throughout the year, do buy some generic-type gifts, such as candles, albums, books for females and yard, car, sports or BBQ stuff for males; you'll always have a small stack of gifts to choose from last minute when needed (not just during the holidays)
  • Do buy all your wrapping paper right after the holidays; preferably solid colors, such as green or red that can be used for other occasions
  • Save money on greeting cards by buying cardstock and printing cards online, try American Greetings and Blue Mountain; or get the kids to make homemade ones to send out; also have some generic (blank inside) store-bought ones (buy them on-sale) and keep them on-hand; my kids love doctoring up the artwork on the front and adding their own writing inside
  • If you are going to be shipping your presents, get them packed up early to take advantage of lower rates; Collect boxes out of dumpsters behind gift or party stores; I get all my boxes behind our local Tuesday Mornings store (nice, sturdy and clean boxes) and the girls there even help me pick out the best ones (I do always ask first when I find a new dumpster and have never been told "no")
  • Get the largest roll of cellophane that you can find, cause it's cheaper (try eBay or a local craft store) and then buy some inexpensive baskets at yardsales, Goodwill or another resale store; you'd be amazed at how pretty even ordinary objects look on a bed of crumpled newspaper, in a basket and then tied up with cellophane and a bow (I've made some beautiful baskets that contained such simple items as magazines, Kleenex, soup, candy, cough medicine and a DVD - as you've already guessed, this was for a sick friend)
  • If you have relatives or friends who collect things, how about going to a local estate or antique auction? You can get some real deals on some very pretty things; I regularly visit Auctiontecs to get a list of Florida auction companies; you can also google "auction" and your city or state to find them online; also check your newspaper
  • And if you are REALLY cheap, visit this FREE Sterling Silver Jewelry site; it looks like a scam but I personally know a few ladies who order from this site regularly...yes, almost every week (they are jewelry freaks themselves), and they swear by the quality; you only pay for shipping and they change the deals every few minutes
  • Instead of buying an individual gift for a teacher or coach, take the initiative and contact other parents in the class or team to each pitch in a few dollars: then go buy a giftcard from a store in the area, like Blockbuster, Wal-mart or Target; you can make this easy by typing up a note to the parents and asking the teacher if you can drop them off in the kids' mail slots or if you can put them in their homework folders (I've done both)
Please share your ideas. I'd love to hear them!

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