Thinking Ahead to a Holiday Wardrobe

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I confess, I am no fashionista. My sister, Jamie, has always been the one with style, while I have been the one with the frump. I am probably the last person who should be writing about wardrobes.

That said, I like to know that my family has nice clothes for special occasions. I like to have classic clothes for my kids that are easily washable and hard to stain. And one of the most bothersome things to happen near holiday time is to go get everyone ready for a special dinner or event and find that you’re putting together a very motley crew with stained shirts, mismatched socks, and ratty sneakers. It pays to plan ahead.

Take Inventory

Depending on how many children you have and how much clothing they own, taking inventory periodically is a wise move. I usually do it when I am really behind on the laundry. When I finally get to folding and sorting clothes, I find that I can easily assess who needs more socks, underwear, shirts, or pants.

Every few months or so, I take each child to sort through his dresser and “go shopping” in the clothes storage. I have boxes of new and used clothing for every size. Since I only allow each kid 5-7 outfits at a time, we store the unstained excess in plastic totes in the closet. We “shop” here first and then shop the stores for sales and clearance items.

Plan Ahead

Figure out what clothes you’d like your children to have for church, school, and family functions. Then keep a list of items and sizes to keep an eye open for. When you see something that might work, consult your list. Just a few minutes of planning can save you that last minute scramble in December.

To help you think it through, you can download this Holiday Wardrobe Planning Sheet. It has space for you to list everyone in the family and to write down size information and items that you will want to buy or borrow for this year’s special events. (You are free to use this planning sheet for your personal use, but please don’t reproduce without my permission.)

Visit Back to School Sales

While the holidays are four months ahead, now is the perfect time to plan your holiday wardrobes. Back to school clothing sales are getting under way and you probably won’t find prices as good in December as you will now.

For instance, Old Navy currently has “school uniforms” on a great sale through August 5. While your school may require certain colors — or no uniforms at all —  these “uniforms” are simply dressy casual separates available in a variety of colors and patterns that might work really well for holiday dress. Khakis, white button-downs and polos have always been considered classics for kids. Just buy a different color than your school requires, so your kids don’t feel like they’re wearing school clothes for Christmas. And if you order online, you can get extra cash back.

Shopping Idea:

1. Sign up with Ebates. They are currently offering 10% cash back at Old Navy.

2. From the Ebates page, search for Old Navy and click through their link. This creates a special tracking ticket so that Ebates can give you back your 10% later.

3. When you check out, use the coupon code ONSEND50 to get free shipping. (Good through August 1.)

This is a great way to plan ahead for the holidays without spending a ton of money. I bought polos and khakis for all my boys and cute skirts and pink blouses for the girls online without having to drag everyone there. Returns are simple, provided you have an Old Navy store near you.

Now, perhaps you don’t know what size your kids will be come December, chances are you can guess pretty well. I generally buy the next size up whenever I find a good sale anyway. So, guess-timate and save your receipts.

Browse Your Local Thrift Stores & Used Clothing Shops

If you are a thrift store shopper, then you probably already know the ropes. Thrift store shopping has never been successful for me, but my mom adores it as do many of my friends.

Likewise, used clothing and consignment shops often have exactly what you’re looking for if you don’t mind it not being brand, spanking new. I have had good luck in selling my kids’ outgrown or hardly worn clothing items to Children’s Orchard. Selling unwanted clothing can be a great way to gain money to buy newer items for your family.

Wherever you choose to shop, if you’ve got your list, then you’re all set. Keep your eyes peeled as your browse the stores and keep your list handy.

Borrow from Friends and Family

It seems silly to buy a pair of dress shoes that your kid might wear once on Christmas and again on Easter. If you don’t often find your family “dressing up,” see if you can pool your resources with another family in order to curb costs. When FishChick was a newborn all the stores were sold out of infant-size black Mary Janes. I had a friend who actually had doll shoes that fit my baby. After all, it really was just for the picture. And no one was the wiser — until now.

If you know what you’ll need come Christmas time, you can start asking friends and family if they might have an item or two that you could borrow for the event. Use caution because the last thing you want to do is borrow an heirloom or expensive clothing item only to have your child spill red punch all over it. Be sure you work out the details with your friend to make sure you won’t lose the friendship trying to save a buck. If you can trade items or buy them for a small price, so much the better.

Don’t Forget Mom and Dad

For some this is not a problem, but for others {raises hand} it is. As you create your holiday budget, keep in mind how you can squeeze in a new dress or blouse for yourself as well as making sure that the Man has what makes him feel his best. If you look good and feel put together, you will enjoy your special occasions so much more.

There’s no end to the opportunities to dress our families well without losing our shirts in the process. Whether it’s holiday clothes or everyday wear, if we plan ahead and keep our eyes open, we can save ourselves time and money.

Does your family “dress up” for the holidays?

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  1. We dress for Christmas most years.Last yr I went to Salvation Army in Sedalia ,Mo and they were having everything for a 1.00 I picked up for my preteen daughters a red velvet dress and a skirt and red lace shirt they wore them last yr and they still fit.YEA!! They look like I spent alot of money too.For my young boys 7and 5 I haven’t been able to find anything so far so probably will hit Suzies Deals where most the clothes are under 5.99 .

  2. Thank you soo much for the planning sheets…they are soo helpful!

    I’m participating in a special kids consignment event here in Orange County, CA from August 27th – 29th. I’m really excited to sell my kids clothing and to shop too! I totally thought of it as I was reading this post and thought I’d share. Check it out…

    1. That sounds like a great opportunity. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  3. I have never had to pay for a holiday outfit for my children. It’s amazing how close to new (or completely new, if the kid outgrows or refuses to wear the outfit!) some items are that parents willingly cast away.

  4. And if you cant buy it, sew it! There are tons of beginner tutorials for some basic styles. You can take a basic style and use some nice fabric with some ribbon and it looks gorgeous! 🙂

    Just sayin’