Organizing Birthdays and Holidays

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Organizing birthdays and holidays can not only make them fun and special, but it can also help you save money. Follow these tips to plan ahead.

Organizing Birthdays and Holidays | Life as Mom - Organizing birthdays and holidays can not only make them fun and special, but it can also help you save money. Follow these tips to plan ahead.

Homemade Chocolate Buttercream

We are currently coming upon a busy season at our house. In addition to the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s that many of you are thinking toward, we’ve also got two kid birthdays and birthdays in our extended family. We also have a tight budget, trying to make things work on one income.

This means that a little organization is in order. Not only can organizing for holidays and birthdays make them fun and special, but it can also save us money. There’ve been too many times when I’ve spun my wheels and paid through the nose for something because I was too late even for Amazon to dig me out.

If you’re wanting to up your planning game for the holidays and family events, consider these organizing tips:

Organizing Birthdays and Holidays

I got lots of questions for you to think through. Only you can decide what’s best for your family celebrations. However, I do encourage you to think outside the box, be ready to resist “how the neighborhood does it”, and carve your own path when it comes to meaningful celebrations you can afford.

There are so many ways that we can talk about organizing for holidays and birthdays, we’re just going to touch on a few in this post.

Organizing Birthdays and Holidays | Life as Mom

Homemade Placecards

What’s on the calendar?

Coming up in the next 8 weeks for our family: Halloween, two FishKid birthdays, Thanksgiving, a Grampa birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s. Chances are you’ve got a similar itinerary. Planning ahead is the name of the game.

Check out your calendar and see what’s on the horizon. These should get special attention as you plan your budget each month. If you don’t already have a sinking fund for gifts and celebrations, you’re going to need to wiggle funding from different categories to make it all jive. No birthday or Christmas is worth going into debt over. Trust me.

The farther you can plan ahead the better. You can pick up cake mixes and decorating supplies on clearance, look for presents on sale, and divvy up your shopping and spending over several weeks or months.

How much can you spend?

How you set up your budget will determine how much you can spend. Here we put on our big girl pants and come to terms with the fact that if we haven’t saved for a special occasion, we will need to forego some things in order to pay for this thing.

How much did I spend on the June birthday kids? That’s a question I need to consider when our fall birthdays roll around, despite the fact that our budget may have changed since we celebrated the spring kids. Keeping things mostly even is important in a big family. So, I may need to do some more budgetary gymnastics to make sure no one feels slighted.

And also maybe make a mental note to change our habit in the new year so that 1. either all the money is set aside at one time or 2. we downsize our celebrations at the get-go.

Organizing Birthdays and Holidays | Life as Mom

Chocolate Cheesecake

How will you celebrate?

Our budget can in many ways determine how we will celebrate. After doing the big clean out, my kids are actually really okay with the idea of less stuff under the tree this year. We’ve talked about it already.

They really didn’t like all that junk in their rooms or feeling guilty about presents that they didn’t love. Everyone at my house is in the mood for simpler celebrations and less stuff.

We no longer do big birthday parties, so that’s not a cost we absorb. Instead, our kids love to meal plan their birthdays. One meal is eaten at a restaurant while the other two meals are Birthday Kid choice. I’m keeping my eye on sales now so that I can offset any big grocery expenses. Sometimes I take the Birthday Kid to the store with me and give him a budget to spend on snacks.

Check out these 12 Ways to Save on Birthdays for ideas on economizing on your celebrations.

How will you sort your ideas?

As you plan for birthdays and holidays, do you have a special place to store your notes? Have you got dedicated Pinterest boards for collecting ideas? Do you have a section in your personal planner to keep track of things?

Consider a planning system that will help you make your celebrations be what you want them to be.

If you shop ahead, be sure to write a note for yourself as to where you’ve hidden the loot. When I cleaned out my office last month, I found edible stocking stuffers that I had to throw away because they were past their expiration dates. Oops.

Keep track of all those wonderful things you do in advance so you don’t forget you’ve done them!

Organizing Birthdays and Holidays | Life as Mom

Do you want to simplify your celebrations?

I used to want to be Martha. But then I realized how stressed out it made me to bake and sew and wrap and craft for every holiday and special occasion that came down the pike. I spent hours wearing myself out so much that I didn’t really enjoy the celebration.

Celebrating simply is more my MO these days. Some good food and fun spent together as a family is more in line with what we like and enjoy. And what doesn’t wear me out.

This year I’ve put together a FREE 4-week e-course to help you get organized for the holidays, and most importantly, celebrate simply. You can register for the course here. The course begins November 16.

What are YOUR tips for organizing birthdays and holidays?

Be sure to read the whole series: Organization for Normal People.


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  1. We have a lot of celebrations coming this season, too. There are 2 extended family birthdays in December, plus my two boys have birthdays in the first two weeks of January. The boys aren’t really into parties, and we try to have special time as a family or do an event of some sort together. That could be a movie or even something free, but something that we all enjoy.

    I like to keep things simple, and this year, I asked the kids what is important to them so I can make sure I include those things. They said pretty basic things like a tree, stockings, and our advent calendar. The extra we will do if we have time, but if not, I won’t worry about it.

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