Wednesday, December 13, 2006
You can help economize Christmas by planning now for the future. Yeah, I know, over a year out seems like a lot of forethought, but it's quite doable.
This is the time for whole meats. Hams, turkeys and other bone-in whole meats are usually on sale this time of year, and if you wait until the week before the holiday you can sometimes get a huge deal (locally, three days before Thanksgiving Safeway had 20 pound turkeys for 45 cents a pound with a $25 additional grocery purchase). Watch for these and try to buy an extra turkey or ham for the freezer.
Baking supplies are also on sale a lot this time of year. For example, baking chocolate is about half price right now. Don't go completely nuts, but a bag of chocolate chips or some white baking chocolate can make a special treat later in the year. Flour, sugar, spices, and other baking supplies tend to be on sale too.
Other holiday food favorites, like stuffing mixes, canned vegetables, and marshmallows have good prices. If it stores well, stock up! And remember to check the manufacturer's website for coupons before you go.
The few days surrounding Christmas are the best time to get next year's wrapping paper, new lights, gift tags, big decorations and holiday music. And the day after is the very best time for home decor at craft stores like Michael's and Jo Ann's. If you really found yourself lacking a seasonal tablecloth or serving platter, go December 26th. Don't wait too long, as stores will eventually pack the stuff up.
Stocking up to save does you no good if the items expire or you forget about them!
Remember, don't go completely nuts because something is on sale. I was cleaning out my pantry and discovered three antiquated cans of pumpkin pie mix. Apparently I'd gotten them on sale after some holiday, years ago. I never used them. Obviously I don't need to stock up on pumpkin pie mix!
Also be careful of where and how you store things. Store foodstuffs as the manufacturer recommends (for example, chocolate should not be frozen) so they last. Store all your Christmas wrappings and decor together so you don't forget you bought all that extra wrapping paper this year.
While we're on moderation, remember your electric bill. If you aren't using the new LED lights, your fancy holiday light displays can cause surprises on your January electric bill. The solution is simple - turn them off. Your tree doesn't need to be lit 24 hours a day, nor does your house. Turn your exterior lights on when it turns dark and off when you go to bed. Have your tree on only when people are in the room to enjoy it.