Monthly Archives: November 2008

Christmas Strategy


Every year I have intentions of getting my shopping done early. But I wait for the sales and see things to add to peoples’ gifts and inevitably put off the hard to buy for people until the last minute. Then I end up shopping on the day before Christmas.

This year I vowed to be done by December 1st. Several months ago I started a spreadsheet listing ideas for each person on my list. And earlier this fall, I started purchasing gifts. In October we set a budget for gifts (both for each other and everyone on our list).

I made my detailed shopping list with a specific gift assigned to each person. This should help me avoid wandering around the mall looking for something that “so and so” would like. Before I head out shopping, I know exactly what is on my list and what I’m looking for. I do a lot of online shopping too. My gift-giving strategy is:

  1. Ask the person for ideas
    I know this ruins the element of surprise sometimes, but this increases the likelihood that we all actually get something we like, right?
  2. Consumables over plastics
    When in doubt, I buy consumables. Consumables are things that can be “used up” or thrown away after being used. Edible gifts are a great example of consumable gifts. A children’s coloring book can be thrown in the recycling bin when all the pages are colored. Many plastic toys hold the kid’s attention for one hour and then sit in a pile with all the other plastic toys.
  3. Homemade
    I am not very crafty, but I have friends that are and I love receiving their crafty gifts. Homemade cookies and the baking mixes in a jar make great small gifts for co-workers and neighbors.
  4. Personal
    Any family member would love a framed piece of artwork done by you or your kiddo. And I think all grandparents love those picture calendars, photo mugs and photo albums that you can find good deals for online.

This weekend I plan on finishing most of my shopping and being done by… December 1st! Hopefully I can spend a more relaxing December wrapping gifts, baking, watching fun Christmas movies and spending time with my family and friends.

I’ll update you on how this goes and if I successfully finish on time! What’s your Christmas strategy? What do you get for the person that has everything?


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Filed under Organizing, Planning

Black Friday Shopping

Being a newbie to all things internet-deal related, I’m amazed that all of the store ads for Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving shopping madness) are already scanned and posted online.

Check out for several store ads (Target, Best Buy, Circuit City, etc). Scroll down and see the stores listed on the left-side bar.
I’m not sure if we will be shopping on Black Friday or not. We are not purchasing any big-ticket items and I want to avoid the temptation of stuff we don’t need (like $2 DVDs). I should be wrapping up all my Christmas shopping by then. I’ll let you know if we end up braving the stores or not. What about you.. are you planning on shopping on Black Friday?

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Filed under Coupons, Deals

Menu Planning Monday

I have planned weekly menus on and off for the last year or so. This consists of spending a few minutes on Sunday going through the groceries we have on hand, looking at what is on sale and considering what sounds good. Then I make a list of what we will have for dinner each night of the week and write my grocery list from the menu based on what I need to buy to complete the ingredients for each recipe. Sometimes I consult hubs on the menu, but he will eat almost anything. Usually he says “that sounds good.” I do use him as my tie-breaker if I can’t decide between two different meals.

I don’t menu plan for breakfast or lunches. Breakfast usually consists of any combination of eggs, muffins, hot or cold cereal, pancakes, yogurt, cottage cheese and fruit. We keep most of those things on hand all the time. Lunch consists of leftovers, soups, sandwiches… you get the picture. In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that my husband brings his lunch from home every day. More often than not, I go out with co-workers or eat from the cafeteria on-site at work.

When life gets especially hectic menu planning falls out the window. Trying to decide what to eat on the fly only adds to the chaos. I’m trying to be more consistent with planning and also have a few “emergency” type meals (frozen pizza) on hand.

Without further ado, here is my menu plan for this week:

Monday: frozen pizza (I’m sick so this was subbed in)
Tuesday: Skillet Lasagna (America’s Test Kitchen recipe) and side salad
Wednesday: broiled salmon and baked sweet potatoes
Thursday: Hubby out with friends and something on hand for me
Friday: tacos (ground turkey)
Saturday: dinner out
Sunday: Chicken Pot Pie with Cornbread Crust

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Filed under Menu-Planning