Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Save Big Time Money This Christmas!

Are you sick to death of the yearly shopping rush to buy everything on time? Or maybe the credit card bill that increases right before the new year? Or the "Black Friday" lines that wrap around the store just so you can save big on just one or two items?

I fell victim to the Black Friday rush the first few times I really paid any attention to it. I thought it was a great idea until I saw the lines wrapping around stores, the parking lots jam packed with crazy people just trying to find a spot, and the rudeness that seemed prevalent in hot spots.

Last year I decided there must be a better way to save money at Christmas time. I thought long and hard about it and even prayed about it. We certainly didn't have bookoos of money to spend on presents, but I still wanted a great Christmas morning for my children. Then the idea came to me, like a "ta da" moment. I buy my clothes used, I buy my decor used, why in the world not buy some of my presents used, too?

Let me tell you, people--I am HOOKED!!

Oh, I know what you're bound to be thinking. Used for Christmas?! But...but...what about the list? What about getting something shiny and new? What about...SANTA?! I know because I was thinking the same thing. But God! It's so nice to have new things once a year. LOL. I do whine to God every now and again.

But I want to share with you what a difference it made in my Christmas.

I felt God tugging on my heart to just try it. And when I would feel sorry for myself, I heard God whisper, "Who's this all about anyway?" I had to admit, all of my Christmas's, at least since I've been a grown up and been in charge of the giving, have been plain miserable. I had a list in front of me a mile long and I rarely shop at all, so just the thought of finding these things and making it all even wore me plum out.

I knew Christmas was supposed to be about Jesus, but I was way too busy for that. And the sad thing was, it was also taking just a bit away from Thanksgiving. (If I was going to get up that early, I better cut my visiting short and get to bed!) I hated Christmas time. I really did. I loved Christmas Eve and morning, but the preparation was so exhausting that it took away from what Christmas was supposed to be about.

So, how does that change, except maybe some saved cash, when I thrift store shop instead? I had no idea!

It was simply amazing!! I pulled in the parking lot to my nearest Thrift store and sat there a minute looking at my children's letters to Santa. How in the world was this going to work? I had never even thought about praying before I walked through a store at Christmas time to go find presents. But, right there in that thrift store parking lot, that was my very first thought. God. If my children were going to open presents and find awesome things under that tree, it would be God, not me, who did it. I prayed. And not just a little, "Oh please don't let the bathrooms be too crowded this year" kind of prayer. I let God know that I knew that if my kids were going to be delighted with what they found on Christmas morning, it would be because of Him.

Then I prayed for specifics, especially the Barbie house Abby had her heart set on. That right there brand new was over $100! She also wanted a baby doll car seat, but I didn't think much of that, those were cheaper. I finally went in, shopping after I spent time in prayer.

I shopped with searching eyes, seeking out ideas that might work. Ideas started flooding. A baby doll stroller that Leah wanted, we found at the very first stop! She had been talking about getting it for months, and there one sat, almost like new. I called my mother-in-law to make sure it was right. Then, around the next bin I stumbled on an Ikea high chair for just a few dollars. I hadn't even thought to put that on the list even though little Joshua had been needing one. On it went, one little find after another.

I probably visited about 6 or 7 thrift stores that day, thanking God after what I walked away with and praying before entering a new thrift store. And all along the way, praying hard that we'd find a Barbie house.

The last thrift shop I went in that day held my treasure--a big ol' High School Musical Barbie doll house with a broken window. I was seriously holding back a squeal of delight! And when I got it for $5, I just about cried--actually, I did, I just waited until I reached the car first.

Only one problem. I was expecting this to be her Santa gift and it had a broken window. God had a solution. As I was walking around the thrift store, glancing here and there for ideas, I saw them. I big huge row of old car seats. My first thought was, I hope people check the expiration dates. A car seat that's expired would be totally useless...unless it was for a doll. The thought just whacked me right in the head. Why not buy her a real car seat (they were like $5!) that would fit one of her big dolls instead of those dinky play ones?

Once I did all of my thrift store shopping, there were just a few things that I needed to fill in from normal stores. I had spent more time with God than ever on Christmas shopping and found things I never expected to find. It was so much fun and so exciting, I'll never stop doing it!!

So, do you want to see some pics from our last Christmas?











Oh, did you notice all the used stuff?? No! Me either. We just noticed all the smiles and laughs and wrapping paper flying everywhere. We noticed the orange juice served in fancy glasses and the sleigh bells off of Santa's sleigh. We noticed all of the squeals and jumping up and down, and we noticed all the extra hugs we were given. But not once did we sit down and think about half of the stuff being used!

Last year I was a little nervous about how it would be received, but this year I'm looking forward to it all. I can't wait to find all the treasures God has prepared in advance for us to find. I hope you will consider trying this out this year.

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