May Rudolph Club Meeting

Rudolph Club

Catalog Shopping Tips

Welcome to the Rudolph Club: your once-a-month meeting to simplify your holidays and get organized for Christmas!

At Organized Christmas, we know that the holiday season can be fast and furious. Solution? Take a day once each month throughout the year to plan and prepare for a more-organized holiday season.

On the 25th of each month, we'll bring simple assignments and easy tips to try now for a simpler, more joyous season. Over the year, you'll tackle planning and preparations to make the season lighter, brighter and less stressful come December.

May Assignment: Catalog Shopping Tips

Summer is coming--but summer catalogs are already here. Crammed with bargains, gift ideas and inspiration, the season's mail order catalogs can be a true ally in the quest for a stress-free and organized holiday season.

Set aside summer issues of catalogs for these purposes:

Save Money

Summer is a slow time for catalog vendors, so they court business with clearance sales. Look for substantial price cuts on gift items, seasonal clothing and holiday decor items. Yes, that Pottery Barn reindeer is the same one you saw last November, but at a much lower price--and gift items like holiday sweatshirts are marked down to rock bottom during summer catalog sales.

Check gift lists and buy while prices--like the season--are hot. Use a free printable Catalog Order Tracker form to record purchases.

Control the impulse to overbuy ("Gosh, these leather key chains from Levenger are only $4? I'll buy 5 of them!") by planning and recording gift giving on a your Master Gift List form.

For more tips for catalog shopping, see our article, The Three "C"s of Catalog Shopping

Gift Ideas and Decor Inspiration

Even if you don't buy, catalogs can be a great source of gift ideas and inspiration for homemade gifts. Tear as you read catalogs, and drop the pages into a file folders marked "Gift Ideas", "Decor" or "Gifts to Make".

Inspiration can come from many quarters. Floral catalogs show models for swags and centerpieces that are easy to duplicate with silk stems from the craft store. Spotted in a public radio catalog: easy-to-copy felt puzzle mats that can be rolled up to store and protect puzzles-in-progress. Add a puzzle and some snacks for an easy family gift.

(We did one, too! Check Make A Puzzle Mat for instructions for this family-friendly craft.)

You may spot one-of-a-kind gift ideas for that hard-to-buy-for family member. (My favorite gift from Christmas 2001, a "Dogs Playing Poker" shirt for poker-loving husband, Steve, came from a summer catalog.) Food gifts and their presentation spark ideas for creating and packaging your own kitchen gifts.

Summer catalogs are a bonanza for an organized holiday planner. Tear 'em out to save time, money and mental energy for the coming holiday season!

May Rudolph Club Reminders

Craft check! Have you planned craft gifts and decor items? Summer vacations, kid sports practices and lazy summer evenings are a great time to add crafted gifts to your stash, so haul out April's Gifts to Make printable planner form and get crafting.

Reminder: Holiday Letter Entry

In February, those of us who write holiday letters began a Rudolph Day activity: noting the month's high points in a notebook or computer file.

If you're a letter-writer, take a few minutes today to add to your holiday letter file. What special moments, jokes or accomplishments have occurred during the last 30 days? Don't worry about style--just note any happy or interesting events to jog your memory come November, when you'll write your holiday letter

Keep Up With The Gift Closet

In January's meeting, we dedicated a "gift closet"--a closet shelf, deep drawer, or an under bed storage box designated to hold bought-ahead holiday gifts.

Time for a quick inventory check! Have you added gifts this month? Record them on the free printable Gift Closet Inventory Form. Your Gift Closet Inventory Form is a one-page reminder of what's tucked away for Christmas.

Keep up with the Christmas Club Savings Plan. Check with your local bank; many financial institutions offer "Christmas Club" accounts that make saving easier. If not, begin your own Christmas Club by writing a check, however small, to yourself on the 25th of each month. Deducted from the running balance in your checking account, but not cashed, this practice can help create a welcome cushion for holiday expenses.

Frugal Finds for May

Will your Christmas gift list include gifts in a jar? These popular layered baking mixes or journal companions require quart-sized canning jars. Buy canning jars now, while stocks are readily available for garden season.

Need more information about these popular make-it-yourself gifts? Find recipes, printable tags and tips here: Gifts In A Jar.