Christmas is just around the corner leaving mothers everywhere getting on their game face. Because on top of the normal every day stuff we do, the stuff that fills our every waking hour and leaves us flopping on the couch in exhaustion at the end of the day, we now have to shop, wrap, craft, decorate, plan, ship, write, mail, list, cook, clean, bake, party and visit.
The kids may love the holidays, but when you’re a mom, it’s less festive, more stress-tive.
Before you read any further, there are three things you need to know about me:
1) I’m practical
2) I’m "frugal"
3) I pretty much live at Walmart (my friends can vouch for this. So can the Walmart greeters)
In keeping with my sadness at parting with my hard earned money and ability to guide myself through Walmart wearing a blindfold, I’m going to share my tips to stuff your stockings, shop without breaking the bank, presenting the perfect hostess gift and the surprise stocking stuffer that'll add Joy To Your World.
1) Follow Your Kids’ Lead
Before buying stocking stuffers or gifts, I take the kids shopping and let them wander about pointing out all the stuff they like. Then I go back and buy those things for their stockings. It takes the pressure off mom and you’ll find they choose stuff you’d never have picked out in a million years. Take these spinning lights.
Both the kids didn’t put them down the whole time we were shopping. Guess what they’re going to find in their stocking on Christmas morning?
Added Bonus: Their amazement that Santa “knew” they wanted the spinning light and it wasn’t even on their official list.
2) It’s Okay To Double Down
And by double down, I mean it’s okay to put some of the same gifts in your kids’ stockings (see lights above), especially stuff they’ll fight over. The last thing you want on Christmas morning is a meltdown because only one stocking had the coveted Rubik’s cube.
3) Practical Is Okay
In our house, Santa gives the kids socks, underwear and toothbrushes. Sure, the kids kinda toss them aside in the frenzied present opening, but they can also point out every pair of undies Santa ever gave them. Santa’s magic like that.
4) There’s a Time To Spend and There's A Time To Save
Son No. 1 wears a dress shirt and tie to school every single day. He also plays and eats in the same shirt and tie. Guess who’s not getting 100% Italian silk and made to order? The fact is, he outgrows or stains his dress shirts in a ridiculously short amount of time. I got him these two white dress shirts for a grand total of $14.00. He’s happy to receive the shirts from Santa, I’m happy it didn’t cost me and arm and a leg. ‘Nuff said.
5) Check The Clearance Aisle
This past summer, my kids got to try out a make your own chalk kit by Crayola. They loved it, then bugged me and bugged me and...you got it...bugged me to get them one. I didn’t. But Santa is! And Santa found it in the clearance aisle for $4.00 a kit. Rock on Santa!
I’m an adult and have little restraint, overloading on holiday treats and egg nog, so I’m certainly not going to get on my kids for eating some. In our house we go small, because they get sweet stuff at every house they’re at. This year they’re getting chocolate balls filled with Smarties and a pack of tic tacs. And yes, we let them eat the chocolate on Christmas morning. It’s Christmas for crying out loud.
6) Don’t Wreck It With The Wrap
Like many moms, I’m out there on Boxing Day picking up cards, tags and wrapping paper at ½ price. Unfortunately, my kids are with me and every mother knows a child may have to be reminded to pick their clothes off the floor and put them in the hamper every single night of their life, but they WILL remember the wrapping paper you bought on sale last year and note that Santa used the same wrap this year.
So every year, I go out without the kids and buy one very large roll of wrapping paper they’ve never seen. And see this box of tags here? ($3.00 by the way)
I’ll remove the tags with Santa's picture on them and hide them away with the Santa wrap. The kids are free to use the rest of the tags for their gifts and are none the wiser.
The magic of Santa lasts for such a short time in their lives, don’t mess it up with the wrapping, ‘kay?
Bonus Round For Saving Your Sanity!
I’m going to leave you with these three little sanity saving tips. The first one is the stocking stuffer that’s guaranteed to elicit smiles from your kids Christmas morn. It’s been a hit in our house for three years running and it’s only $4.97. Are you ready?
I know...you’re thinking...it’s just mini boxes of cereal, the kids won’t get excited about that.
Trust me, they will.
You can thank me with chocolate.
Hostess Gift Dilemma
My hostess with the mostest gift is wine, they’ll either drink it, serve it or use it as a re-gift. Either way it’s win/win/win. But I like to be environmentally friendly and am not a big fan of wine bags. Some people re-use them but all too often they’re tossed in the garbage. Instead, I buy tree ornaments and tie one onto the bottle with a gift tag and voila! Perfect presentation.
(I got 20 of these snowflake ornaments and a roll of ribbon for $6.00)
Shop When You Can
If you read my blog, you know I’m an early riser. Last year a couple of weeks before Christmas, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep. Instead of laying there staring at the ceiling for two hours, I got up, got dressed and went to Walmart (close to Christmas, they open 24 hours a day). With my Timmy’s in hand, I managed to do holiday shopping and pick up a few groceries, all before the kids woke up.
It wasn’t ideal, but as someone who’s constantly juggling work, friends, life and the multitude of extra stuff thrown my way during the holiday season, I do what I can when I can.
Just like you.
And if you don't get it all done, don't beat yourself up. Christmas is all about the magic and being together.
Plus a chocolate ball filled with Smarties will gain you a lot of grace on Christmas morning.
p.s. I stuffed my kids stockings to the brim (and then some), bought some gifts, wrapping paper, gift tags, tree ornaments, wired ribbon and coffee for $106.82. Finding bargains puts me in my happy place.
Have you checked out the rest of our Yummy Holiday Guide?
It’s all proudly sponsored by our friends at