I realize school is just starting but it is also a great time to start your holiday planning if you haven’t already. Here is a blog post I wrote last year about saving money and time by planning ahead for holiday expenses.

One way to purchase items over a period of time is with layaway. Walmart is offering holiday layaway beginning September 16 and running thru December 14. Items that can be put on layaway include toys, electronics, small home appliances and select sporting goods such as trampolines and large exercise equipment. Each item must be at least $15 and the total layaway purchase must be at least $50.

A down payment of 10 percent or $10, whichever is greater, is required and will be applied to the purchase. There is also a $15 fee to open an account. If the order is cancelled or not paid in full, the $15 is not refunded. Shoppers who make their final layaway payment get a refund of the $15 fee in the form of a Wal-Mart gift card.
Layaway plans are also offered by Kmart, Sears and ToysRUs.

Even though with layaway programs you avoid credit card debt and fees, you still need to monitor what you are spending so you are able to make the payments as they are scheduled.

I hope you are having the opportunity to enjoy the holiday with your family and friends.

Here is a post I wrote last year about buying holiday items you use year to year at after Holiday sales.

This is part of a 90 day Holiday Countdown, previous posts can be found here

I saw a recent post on how to make a Pottery Barn type candle with mainly items that can be found at the dollar store.

When I was looking at the Pottery Barn website I found a couple of other items that could be made for a fraction of the price. Check out the hanging mason jars and hurricane lanterns.

This is part of a 90 day Holiday Countdown, previous posts can be found here

One activity that many families do as part of the holiday season is to make or decorate gingerbread houses. You can buy kits that have the gingerbread already made and decorations ready to make the houses. Or you can make your own from scratch.
Here are some ideas and recipes for making your own gingerbread houses.

There are also patterns and ideas for making them from cardboard and other things so they will last from year to year.

One thing about the holidays is sending Christmas cards and/or letters. For many people this is one time of the year that they hear from some family and friends.

If you don’t feel like you have the time or money to send traditional cards, Crystal from Money Saving Mom has some ideas such as email messages and others.

In some cases, people send cards after the holidays when they have more time.

There are varying thoughts about giving gift cards as gifts. Some people think there is not enough thought given when purchasing gift cards. But if you can purchase gift cards for a store or restaurant that you know the recipient is interested in it could be a better gift, they can use it to buy something they want. Also, if they get multiple cards from different people they can possibly purchase something more expensive that they would not normally be able to purchase.

If you do give giftcards, it may be possible to combine them with other items to make a gift basket instead of just the card. Some examples are bookmarks with a giftcard from a bookstore or coffee mug, cookies with a coffee gift card.

Here are some ideas for packaging gift cards and other gift wrapping ideas. One idea is to make a snow globe from a jar. One note mentioned in the post is that if you put a gift card in a jar like this, to not leave in the water for longer than a week. They tested a gift card after a week and it still worked but did not recommend to leave it in the water for much longer than a week.

Roo Magazine is a new online magazine for women recently launched by Candace Cameron Bure. You may remember Candace as DJ from the show, Full House. Topics covered in the magazine are Mother, wife, home, life, heart and everything else.

One of the recipes that caught my eye was Winter Berry Wreath Salad. The salad appears easy to put together and looks like something different than ordinary salads. You can easily change the ingredients to match the ingredients you like if you do not like some of the items mentioned.

Another article is Clutter Free Christmas gift ideas from Crystal from Money Saving Mom.

This is part of a 90 day Holiday Countdown, previous posts can be found here

Nancy Kvamme

With the holidays coming up you may have more guests. Jessica from Good Cheap Eats gives suggestions about having items on hand to prepare a Snack tray and also a beverage box.

If you are able to have these items on sale, it may save you a trip to the store and if you can find some of the items on sale you can save some money too. Also, by having items to make snacks and drinks easily you can save the expense of buying prepared items from the deli or store. By taking a few minutes to chop vegetables, meat or cheese can save the added expense of buying these items already chopped.

This is part of a 90 day Holiday Countdown, previous posts can be found here


Gift ideas

Last week I wrote a post with gift ideas for boys.

Yesterday, Jessica from Life As Mom has gift ideas for girls.

Crystal from Money Saving Mom wrote a post aboutClutter free Gifts. There are also several other posts on Money Saving Mom about gift ideas and ideas you can make yourself.

This is part of a 90 day Holiday Countdown, previous posts can be found here

In a previous post I wrote about ways to save on holiday expenses.

In the current ads for CVS and Walgreens there are holiday items on sale such as wrapping paper, cards and decorating items. There should be sales at both of these stores and more until Christmas.

Walgreens also has a variety of toys on sale and at most stores there are collection sites for the Toys for Tots program.

Walgreens is also running a Jingle Cash promotion. If you spend a certain amount this week, Dec 4 – Dec. 10 you will get a coupon for a certain amount to spend next week Spend $30 earn $5, Spend $50 earn $10, Spend $75 earn $15 and Spend $100 earn $20. Use the earned Jingle Cash on a qualifying $30 minimum purchase.

This is part of a 90 day Holiday Countdown, previous posts can be found here