Jump Start Holiday Shopping

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By Lisa Scarbrough

I know, it’s only August. How in the world can you even think about Christmas? Well, thinking about it early is what keeps me home with my family and stress-free when the big holiday arrives.

1. Make your list ahead.
You know who the people are that you’ll be shopping for, so make that list after you’ve settled down from the holidays. Make notes next to each name of their likes or interests.

2. Start shopping after Christmas and throughout the year to save.
You have your list made, now start shopping! Those after Christmas sales are hard to beat. No one will care that you paid only 10% of the purchase price for their Christmas cards. Wrapping paper always ends up in the trash, whether you paid full price for it or not. Buy ahead for children’s attire next year. Take advantage of holiday sales and even back to school sales later in the year, putting items away to be given at Christmas. Just last week, a national chain had toys at 75% off. The sales were in store and not advertised, so the moms I know who happened upon them stocked up for their whole family.

3. When you find a good deal, take it.
About a month ago, I purchased some storage containers from a store near my home for $4.50 each. I thought they were a good deal, so about two weeks later I went back. I got to the register and found that even though the shelf price said $4.50, they had gone up to $5. Irritated, I put them back. Last week, I saw the same exact storage units in a Back to School “sale” ad for this store, listed on sale for $6 each. Now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t just buy them all at $4.50 a piece.

4. Price check online.
Everyone rushes out for Black Friday deals. I made that mistake once, and only once, about 10 years ago. Just before 4 am, I found myself outside in a line with a few hundred other people waiting to get into a store for some electronics purchases. After waiting 2 hours with my hands frozen, I got one of the last two carts and proceeded into a frenzy of bumper carts and angry mobs. It took 3 hours to check out. It was the last time I have ever physically participated in Black Friday. Now, I do all my shopping online since many major retailers offer Black Friday purchasing starting at 12:01 am. But instead of staying up late fighting a turkey coma, I shop at places like geeks.com throughout the year, where I can take advantage of sales most any day of the week at a time that works best for my sleep schedule.

5. Don’t be afraid to keep it simple.
We are all struggling in this economy. Your friends and family are in the same boat as you. Put more thought into the gift rather than just dollars. Get creative, like making a gift basket of homemade items instead of a gift card.

Christmas is not about who gets the largest or most gifts. It’s about spending time with family, something we often take for granted in our fast-paced lives.

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A big thank you to the Alee Temple Shriners in Savannah for the wonderful children’s Christmas party where my son had his first visit with Santa.

Lisa Scarbrough offers mom-on-a-dime advice for parents like her who still hold out hope that they’ll be able to afford the rising costs of college tuition (yeah, right). Course, Lisa has some time to prepare; her son, Ian, is three years old. Lisa lives in Guyton, GA, and when she’s not chasing after her little man, she serves as the Digital Properties Manager for Paula Deen.
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Reader Comments:

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You have a wonderful site here that was a quality read for me. Good info! Thanks!

By LowlGyclole on May 02, 2013

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Paula, my 10 year old granddaughter could blow those new want-to-be stars out of the boiling water. this summer she came to visit and she and I were Rachael ray and i was paula Deen. my honey videoed us playing our on episode . Someday she hopes to become a Foodnetwork Star. She gave the video to her dad for his birthday, since he taught her to cook, and i taught him when he was 9. Doing gifts together with children and grandchildren will be treasured more than any stor-bought gift. u trly have shown us how to bring the family back together-God Bless

By RoseMarie Herdman on August 25, 2011

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I have shopped yearround for yearsI keep a tiny notebook with what I buy and who it is for along with generic gifts like expensive candles and the foaming hand soap from bath & body. I store them in totes in the attic until time to wrap. It saves a TON of money and makes it easy if I need a last minute gift during the year. When I am at the mall say at Dillards and I see a nice kitchen item or nice white towels I buy it as a generic gift and have it on hand if I forget a birthday or need a wedding gift. One year I found $100 grilling sets on clearance for $20 and bought one for every guy in my family. I added some nice sauces and some PD rubs and they had an awesome gift they all liked and since they got the same thing no one felt like someone had gotten a better gift. I have expensive tastes and shopping all year helps me have those nice things at a bargain price. It also saves time so I can spend the preholiday time baking like a mad woman...

By linda cline on August 09, 2011

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I try to put food baskets together for people. Instead of an expensive basket I use a dishpan from the dollar store. I make "breakfast" baskets with pancake mix, syrup, jellies, muffin mixes and buy one item a week to go in the basket. That way it doesn't cost a lot at one time. I do "snack" baskets with canned nuts, pork rinds, chips salsa etc. Do a "cheese and cracker" basket and purchase different gourmet crackers. All you have to buy just before you give the gift is the cheese. If you buy a block from the store you can cut in half and make 2 baskets. It is a really nice gift and what did it cost but one extra item a week in your groceries.

By nancy on August 09, 2011

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Yes, ladies and gentelmen, I love doing my shopping throughout the year. In my Mind I call this CLEARENCE CHRISTMAS you find some great things, maybe not to what they really want, this is the best part of being a friend, aunt, uncle, etc... you can get alittle crazy with the ideas, and sometimes finding things someone wouldn't normally buy for themselves but would want to have,, even out of season, like tiki tourches for a yard, or yard decorations. And for men, WEEDEATER STRING HAHAHAHAHA prank gifts, well BBQ things are always on sale, with the chef hat, aapron stuff like this, even go to get some bottles of out of dated wine, (use for cooking only,... guess you can drink it if you can stand it..lol ) and other cooking equipment and yes off clearance only... you have to be creative, you have all year (well now only 4months.) get start NOW... Try it, MOST OF ALL HAVE FUN WITH IT!!!!!

By Cheryl on August 06, 2011

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I love to cook and i would like to know if paul deen going to m another cook book i like church cook book to can anyone tell me how i can grt them

By rosemota on August 06, 2011

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Last year for some reason I decided I was going to get the Christmas shopping done early. I was on it! Good thing. I got a call from my daughter in Stuttgart, Germany. Her husband is in the military. They have 3 girls ages at the time 5, 3 & 1. My daughter had to have surgery and would have to be off her leg for 6 weeks. Two days before Thanksgiving I flew to Stuttgart and didn't return until January 7, 2011...with a broken foot, but that's another story. But thank heavens I had all the shopping done and left it in labeled bags for my husband & daughter to wrap. This was the first year I had ever done this. The Lord works in mysterious ways!!! Great points Paula! I'm getting ready to start again!!! P.S. Paula....we just love you and your whole family! Been to the Lady & Sons 3 times when the kids were stationed at Ft. Stewart. You are the best!!!

By Debi Ward on August 06, 2011

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Girlfriend, I am glad I am not the only gal thinking Christmas. I am thinking, as fast as time fly's, I'd better take notice of special's out there and try and save me some money on the way to Christmas..countdown..I would really like to make home~made gifts..but..I need some new ideas. Lv U~R show, and all the great foods and planning .. Pat

By Pat Barr on August 06, 2011

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Lisa, Like always love it! GREAt advice and very well written.... Much love!!

By Andrea Lepinske on August 04, 2011

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I always mean to start my shopping early and this year I am really trying to stick with it! LOVE the idea of home made gifts and will definitely be using some of those ideas in the link for my sister-in-law and some friends! I'm going to be taking advantage of some on line sales this year as well! Especially if they include free shipping when you spend a certain amount! Thanks for the tips and inspiration!

By Robin on August 04, 2011

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Lisa - You give the best tips! I totally agree with you about keeping it simple and putting thought into the gift. Too many times, I think we are all guilty about buying things because it's a good deal, instead of buying because we saw something we just knew the person would love it! And....what a cute Santa picture....who couldn't love that?!?!?!

By Pamela Meagher on August 04, 2011

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I find myself every year in Target a week before Christmas trying to figure out what to get everybody on my shopping list. I would love to take these tips and start shopping for Christmas now instead of a week before Christmas lol.

By Tanya on August 04, 2011

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O Lisa. I always love your advice. I was just thinking about this the other day. Since we will have two kiddos this year- I really need to get started on it! Thanks for the tips!

By Jessica Weaver on August 04, 2011

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Paula Deen
Paula Deen
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Lisa Scarbrough
Lisa Scarbrough
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Mom on a dime advice from Paula's Digital Properties Manager. See Posts

Andrea Goto
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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 10:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 8:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 4:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm