I hate the commercialization of Christmas, but I love the season itself, and I always try to make it special for my family, like my mother always made it magical for us. By keeping her eyes peeled for good deals all year round for the next Christmas, my mom was able to make it so that even though we didn't have much money when I was growing up, we always had a generous Christmas. I don't know many people who have their Christmas shopping completed by summer's end (or earlier), like Mom does, but every year I try to do better at following her example. I know I save money when I shop earlier, watching for good deals. Normally she and I both like to do this as we go "yard saling" during the summer. But this summer I wasn't able to go as often as I hoped and when I did go, I didn't find much in the way of Christmas presents.
I'm not willing to waste money on something we don't need or that nobody would want or appreciate--even if it's only $1. And I like my gifts to be thoughtful and appropriate to the person. So lately I have been turning to ebay and etsy. As with anywhere, one has to be careful when shopping online to be sure the item really is a good deal--including shipping--and it takes some searching, comparing, and calculating. But I have recently found some things I felt were very worth purchasing, at prices I felt good about, and it makes me excited to give them.
And it also feels good to know that with this planning ahead, we won't be spending more than we can afford when December rolls around. It's no fun to get behind in your finances just before the new year begins!