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Halloween already? Six tips to save on holiday shopping.

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(Read caption) Rows of pumpkins wait for customers at Curtis Orchards & Pumpkin Patch on the outskirts of Champaign, Ill. It seems hard to believe, but stores are already starting to display candy and costumes for Halloween shoppers.

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On September 5, I stopped by a local pharmacy to pick up a prescription only to be greeted with a giant orange and black display with pumpkins and witches and all that jazz.

Halloween? Already?

Yes, almost like the changing of the tides, stores have moved from the “back to school” displays to the “Halloween” displays, with Labor Day seemingly the big cutoff between the two.

Thankfully, I won’t be buying much from the Halloween displays this year, except for perhaps a supplementary item for our children’s Halloween costumes.

Why? We’re already ready to go.

I bought the candy we need for the trick-or-treaters shortly after Easter. After Easter, many jumbo bags of candy were on steep discount at the store, so I bought a few bags, tossed them in the closet, and now they’re simply waiting for the end of October.

Most of our decorations will be handmade. Our children love art projects. Why not channel that into making some Halloween-themed decorations in early October? They can easily cut out shapes from orange and black construction paper, after all.

Our costumes will either be reused or assembled without buying anything either. Our youngest child wears the costumes his older brother wore a few years ago. Our oldest children seem to enjoy making up their own costumes now rather than buying a kit, so with some creativity, we don’t have to buy anything for them, either.

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These ideas are good principles for any holiday, not just Halloween. The big in-store displays are merely a sign that we need to start focusing on some homemade stuff, not to simply open our pocket.

Here are some general tips that work for any holiday.

Buy holiday-themed items shortly after the holiday and bank ‘em in the closet. Candy, in particular, is a good one to pick up, particularly after Easter and Halloween, but also after Christmas and Valentine’s Day. If you send greeting cards, pick them up right after the holiday and stow them for next year. Wrapping paper? Baskets? Halloween costume materials? All of that generally goes on deep discount a day or two after the associated holiday, so pick it up and bank it for next year.

Make your own decorations. Decorate your home with things you made or your children made in theme with the holiday. Cut pumpkins and witches out of black and orange construction paper (using stencils). Make paper snowflakes. Cut a turkey out of brown construction paper. Use leaves as decoration in autumn and fresh flowers in the spring. None of these things involve making purchases.

Buy gifts throughout the year. I’ve already got the majority of my Christmas shopping for 2013 finished. The items are hid away in the closet, picked up at sales as I see them throughout the year.

You don’t have to open up your wallet just because a holiday is on the horizon. Plan ahead, be creative, and keep your wallet shut.

The post The Holiday Prep Plan (Inspired By Halloween Ads That Come Far Too Early) appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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