Standing in the post office in early September, I was amused at the shocked reaction the postal worker had to the customer’s request. “Christmas stamps! It’s too early for Christmas stamps!” The customer replied, “But I’ve finished all my Christmas cards and wanted to get them stamped so they’ll be ready to go right after Thanksgiving.”
I am not proposing that we as caregivers should plan quite that far in advance (though if you do – that’s wonderful!). I am suggesting, however, that the holidays are quickly approaching. Our duties as caregivers of elderly parents, coupled with helping our children as well as grandparenting rarely leaves us much time as it is. Throw holiday preparation into the mix, and we can all use some preplanning. Here’s a few ideas to get the ball rolling.
1. If you are going to be ordering any gifts, now’s a good time to shop. I’ve noticed a lot of discounts being offered to entice Christmas shoppers to start early.
2. I love to treat my children and grandchildren to a new Christmas CD each year. I usually opt for the Christian ones because there are so many great ones out there and more every year. That way we can enjoy the old songs we know so well as well as great new songs, all centered on the joy of our Savior’s birth. Last year my two favorites were Christmas Offerings by Third Day and Winter Wonderland by Point of Grace. I was interested to see that they have a new one for this year, Tennessee Christmas. Looking at the songs and listening to the samples, I think that will be at the head of my list. It has a nice blend of Christian and just plain fun songs done in an enjoyable, jazzy style. My favorite! How about you? What is your favorite Christmas music album? One great timesaver for busy caregivers is to shop for your Christmas cds at Amazon, www.amazon.com , or www.ChristianBook.com . You can usually listen to samples online, place your order, and wait for it to arrive. Saves time and, in my case anyway, money. If I go into the store, I will usually spend a lot more because there are just so many neat things there!
3. I love nativity sets and I love giving my grandchildren and children nativity sets periodically. One year, Sam’s Club had the most gorgeous Bethlehem City available for a great price. It was like the Dept. 56 Christmas Villages that you see all the time, only set in Bethlehem with camels instead of old cars, and the nativity scene instead of Christmas carolers. I love it as do my kids! I’m not sure if you can find that any more, but another great nativity set that used to be available and was great for kids is the “What God Wants for Christmas” set from Family Life. You used to be able to buy it at ChristianBook.com too.
In the past, I’ve usually given the cds and the nativity sets early, on Thanksgiving, so they can enjoy them during the current holiday. It makes a fun and festive addition to Thanksgiving Day and starts the season out focusing on Jesus!
4. I love to give Christian calendars with Bible verses as a way of encouraging and sharing God’s love with others. The really nice ones can get scooped up quickly, so now is the best time to shop for them. Most local Christian bookstores should have a nice selection now. If your time is very limited, though, you might want to call ahead to be sure your store has them in stock. You can also find them at Barnes & Noble and Amazon, but it’s not always easy. I usually have to find the ISBN, then look the item up with that. I generally buy in the store for calendars I’m giving to friends and relatives locally, but I like to order online for those I’m mailing. (Frugal Tips for Caregivers: By ordering calendars online, you often save on shipping costs. In addition, it’s really hard to find packaging for calendars as their shape is so big. Ordering online means you save on packaging costs as well.) One of my favorite calendars to give is the Thomas Kinkade Scripture Calendars. My elderly relatives love it, as do my kids, and everyone in between. You have to be careful when ordering this online as they also publish one without the verses. Amazon is currently carrying it at a great price and they are so easy to work with.
Well, that’s enough to get us started. I’ll have more holiday helps and tips in the upcoming weeks. In meantime, it’s such a gorgeously crisp, cool, autumn day. I think I’ll make myself a cup of hot chocolate, order some Christmas calendars, while I listen to some of my favorite Christmas songs and hymns. Merry Autumn!