MARQUETTE - While it's seemingly too early for a lot of people to even begin thinking about Christmas shopping, experts say starting early and planning ahead are good ideas if you want to save money on your holiday gift gathering.
Many people don't enjoy the Christmas holiday because of the stress involved in last minute gift shopping or trying to get cards written and sent as the Christmas countdown clock keeps running. Setting a date to begin your card writing and doing Christmas shopping in segments is easier in terms of stress and often cheaper than trying to binge buy at the last minute.
Some experts suggest signing up for email notifications from companies that you often buy from. The notifications can include information on special savings days for shopping, non-advertised sales or other savings opportunities.
A Google search for ideas on getting ready for Christmas can set you off in the right direction. Use more specialized searches to find exactly what you want. This will save you time and energy and can reduce stress.
If you don't already have money set aside for holiday shopping, try setting at least a few dollars aside now, every bit helps.
But one of the greatest ideas continues to be homemade gifts, including those that are crafted, artistically created, baked, canned or bottled. Homemade gifts continue to be among the most appreciated and memorable gifts given and received during the holiday.
Making your own holiday decorations can be a fun idea for families and those items can also be great gifts. Thrift stores can also be good places to find decorations or other holiday items at reduced prices.
Getting a permit from the U.S. Forest Service to cut your own holiday tree from specified areas can save a lot of money and cutting your own tree is a lot of fun. It's a great event for families to venture into the woods, select the tree, bring it home and decorate it.
Making your own holiday cards is another fun and cost-effective thing to do at Christmastime. Printing out self-stick return address labels for your Christmas cards is a way to make the process of sending out cards easier and an idea that be done very attractively with the help of some decorative computer labels or on-line resources.
Ribbons, bows, wrapping paper and other items can also often be found at thrift stores, along with supplies you might need to craft gift items.
Believe it or not, a lot of local stores already have Christmas decorations stocked in their aisles. If you're looking for something particular, shopping early gives you the best chance of finding what you need.
While it's best to enjoy each holiday as it arrives-and it's not even Halloween yet-if you take some time now, at a relaxed pace, to work on your holiday preparations, Christmas-when it does get here-may seem a little bit brighter this year and a lot more stress free, giving you more time and energy to focus on enjoying the season with your family and friends.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.