In Other Words: How We Do It
1. Shop sales year round. Store booty in bins marked "beans and rice" in the cellar.
2. Get to know the sale and clearance cycles to know when best to buy. For instance, buy sweaters, hats and gloves cheapest between Christmas and Easter; ham, in the loss-leader sales right before Christmas; toys, either right before or right after Christmas ~ in the 75% off bins...
3. Don't be afraid to say "thrift store." In recent weeks I've found either brand new or barely worn items from the likes of Banana Republic, Land's End, and Osh Kosh for under $5 each. Washed, pressed, boxed up and wrapped in tissue, the children won't know (and frankly, won't care) where I bought them.
4. Plan, organize, keep lists ~ to prevent buying one child 10 gifts and another only 5.
5. It's a nice philosophical motto, that "quality over quantity" idea... but try explaining its subtleties to four children in the under-ten category who could either share one $50 toy from Willow Tree or five gifts each gleaned from thrift stores and the Dollar Tree. (Mind you, we would dearly love to be able to get our children the wonderful toys at Willow Tree and its ilk, but we'd rather have our last 5 or 6 children than the money to spend on such things.)
6. Center the season around expectation for Jesus' birthday. Midnight Mass (or Christmas morning Mass) should be the crescendo of the season! Sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus in front of the Nativity set on Christmas morning.
7. Make events more important than presents. Here are some practically free things to do with a kazillion people: sledding, caroling, sing-along parties at home, game parties, Christmas light drives, cookie baking parties and exchanges, "elving" soirees, where you sneak up on friends' and loved ones' houses and "secretly" leave baskets of goodies ~ or gags...
8. And, finally, for greater ease and efficiency in the North Pole manufacturing plant, make sure the children know that in December, a magnetic shift at the poles, caused by Christmas carols and essence of peppermint, transform Mommy and Daddy's room into a southern outpost of the North Pole. That understood, you can put this on your bedroom door:
And, it helps us that our kids know that Mommy and Daddy are Mr. and Mrs. S. Clause, in disguise the rest of the year. &:o)