That happened to me yesterday.  I was sharing the joy of the season with a friend and she asked the question, “How can you be so calm at Christmas?”

My secret?  I get the majority of my shopping done before December 1st!

Last year’s tree and gifts

 We usually make a list before Thanksgiving and get ideas from people.  Then we buy the small stuff when we’re out and about getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner.

I usually get to clean up after our Thanksgiving festivities, which I don’t mind, because I make Michael go out on Black Friday (the day after Turkey Day) and buy the bigger stuff that’ll be on sale.

Fair?  I think so, considering how much I clean up from the day before and how much I detest big lines and shopping congestion.  And Michael likes it, cause he gets to take along his sister, who shops for her kids that day.

Besides, there’s usually a good college football game on in the afternoon, so I’ve got just enough time in the morning to clean the kitchen, wrap the gifts we’ve already bought and make a nice lunch so that Michael and his sister (and me!) will be well-fed after a long day of shopping.

(Good recipe for after-Thanksgiving shopping:  cut a leftover roll in half and layer on stuffing, turkey, cranberry sauce and a smear of sweet potato casserole.  Sounds awful, but tastes delicious!)

One of the great things about getting all the shopping done by December 1st (besides getting to enjoy the season) is that you don’t have to fight with other people about what to get your loved ones.  If my sister wants to know if dad might like a specific toolset or DVD collection, I can tell her that I already bought it.  Hey – make her search for the perfect gift; I already got the best one!

Michael and I usually go shopping together, so buying gifts for him is especially difficult.  But that was no problem this year, since I bought all his presents on the Internet!

Another good tip:  buy next year’s wrapping paper, bows and gift bags after Christmas this year, when you can get a big discount.  Yes, you can be like me and Michael and choose a yearly color scheme and buy paper that goes along with it (um… that might be a bit too OCD for everyone) or you can just get a coupla big rolls.  Take this home and store it with your Thanksgiving or Halloween decorations.  That way you’ll be sure to find it before you buy a whole bunch more stuff next year at full price.

And don’t forget to stock up on some lights when they’re marked down 50 – 75% off.  Why?  Because at least one strand of your lights will die in storage.  It’s a rule (trust me, I looked it up).  And who wants to stand in line during the holiday season to buy a $3.00 strand of Christmas lights.

Of course, after-Christmas sales are also a good time to stock up on decorations.  Expensive yard displays, trees and ornaments will all be marked down.  Just don’t wait until it’s all marked off 90%, because the selection will be picked over by then.

Since I’m done shopping, I’ve been spending time getting orders out for our cot cover business (our new designs have been selling very well) and making some small gifts for Christmas.  I’ve just finished the fourth quilt I’ll be giving this year and I’m working on number 5.

While this may seem so very organized and pulled-together, remember this:  I’m going to shop for gifts anyway.  Why not do it early (when the stores are less crowded) and get it out of the way? 

Oops… I forgot to get something for the dog.  Guess I’ll be hitting the store one more time before the big day!