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Former Obama press secretary launches Sebelius Lecture Series -10/1/2014, 2:18 PM

Photographs of rural life in China on exhibit in FHSU's Memorial Union -10/1/2014, 10:32 AM

Encore Series to show Julie Fowlis -10/1/2014, 10:32 AM

The power of hedge apples stands strong through years -10/1/2014, 9:36 AM

Library to premiere short film about Hays Arts Council -9/30/2014, 12:11 PM

'The Equalizer' ends up in the green -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

Fondue the perfect treat for party -9/30/2014, 9:08 AM

Clubs and meetings (Sept. 28, 2014) -9/28/2014, 3:37 PM

As winter wheat insurance deadline approaches, consider SCO -9/28/2014, 3:37 PM

Business Briefcase (Sept. 28, 2014) -9/28/2014, 3:37 PM

Huelskamp to host additional October town halls -9/26/2014, 4:32 PM

FHSU Theatre season premiers in October with 'Hello, Dolly!' -9/26/2014, 4:23 PM

American Democracy Project presents Ukraine series -9/26/2014, 3:46 PM

Black Madonna replica coming to Hays in October -9/26/2014, 10:10 AM

For 3rd year, FHSU makes national grouping of Lead Initiative civic engagement institutions -9/25/2014, 4:45 PM

Robots developed in France will enter curriculum for teaching, research -9/25/2014, 4:44 PM

FHSU Hispanic American Leadership Organization presents Antonio Neves -9/25/2014, 4:44 PM

Be aware to build an emergency fund -9/25/2014, 8:32 AM

Downs grad named RA at Cloud County -9/24/2014, 2:07 PM

Road project meeting planned in Norton -9/24/2014, 4:55 PM

Girl Scouts hosting free community event -9/24/2014, 4:01 PM

Hays Symphony Orchestra to open 2014-15 music season -9/24/2014, 4:01 PM

Students assemble for the 6th annual Poetry Slam -9/24/2014, 4:01 PM

FHSU to host annual majors and graduate programs fair -9/24/2014, 4:01 PM

Nation's largest taxpayer group honors Huelskamp -9/24/2014, 10:51 AM

Teach Ag Day celebrates opportunities -9/24/2014, 10:24 AM

HaysMed co-hosts summit on human trafficking -9/24/2014, 2:15 PM

American Farm Bureau Federation names Kansas lawmakers 'Friends of Farm Bureau' -9/24/2014, 10:24 AM

Looking to the past in dealing with the present, future -9/24/2014, 9:55 AM

Fun at the fair -- once again -9/24/2014, 9:55 AM

Nex-Tech Wireless to offer iPhone 6, iPhone6 Plus -9/23/2014, 11:11 AM

'This is Where I Leave You' leaves room for improvement -9/23/2014, 9:02 AM

Birthdays and gluten-free goodies -9/23/2014, 9:02 AM

Kansas Originals market plans Spirit of Kansas Festival -9/22/2014, 8:01 PM

Electric cars to test their endurance at the High Plains ElectroRally -9/22/2014, 12:06 PM

FHSU students can now earn a sustainability certificate -9/22/2014, 11:20 AM

Local students among 39 awarded for Hunter Scholarships at FHSU -9/22/2014, 11:19 AM

Peer pressure can play role in raising adolescents -9/22/2014, 8:45 AM

Business Briefcase (Sept. 21, 2014) -9/21/2014, 2:33 PM

FHSU one of 25 schools across the nation selected for 'hackathon' -9/19/2014, 3:55 PM

Cities to receive funding for road improvement projects -9/19/2014, 2:24 PM

Kansas Farm Bureau celebrates Farm Safety Week -9/19/2014, 2:15 PM

McDonald’s of WaKeeney invests in library -9/18/2014, 5:45 PM

State receives $3.5 million grant to reduce infant mortality -9/18/2014, 3:00 PM

Kansas highway system ranked 5th in national report -9/18/2014, 11:51 AM

Dixon joins FHSU with social media marketing as her mission -9/18/2014, 11:15 AM

In case of emergency, prepare a grab-and-go kit -9/18/2014, 9:08 AM

Birthday -9/18/2014, 9:07 AM

Association donates 105 car seats to KHP -9/18/2014, 4:50 PM

Kansas receives CDC funding to gather data -9/17/2014, 4:14 PM

Brownback orders flags lowered -9/17/2014, 11:08 AM

Life during retirement is still plenty busy -9/17/2014, 8:51 AM

Generations briefs (Sept. 17, 2014) -9/17/2014, 8:50 AM

Military marquee -9/17/2014, 12:00 PM

'No Good Deed?' More like, 'No good, dude' -9/16/2014, 9:38 PM

Delta Zeta Turtle Tug: Tug your heart out -9/16/2014, 4:19 PM

Moss-Thorns Gallery of Art hosts exhibitions throughout the year -9/16/2014, 4:19 PM

Moran names service academy selection board -9/16/2014, 4:19 PM

Department of Informatics offers a new concentration in health informatics -9/16/2014, 4:19 PM

Magician on this season's 'America's Got Talent' will perform on the FHSU campus -9/16/2014, 4:19 PM

Parenting adolescents takes many twists, turns -9/15/2014, 9:20 AM

-9/14/2014, 1:57 PM

Capital investments for cow-calf enterprises in profitable times -9/14/2014, 1:57 PM

Business briefcase (Sept. 14, 2014) -9/14/2014, 1:57 PM

Stork club -9/14/2014, 1:57 PM

Hays Recreation Commission calendar -9/14/2014, 1:57 PM

The Paradox of the cross -9/12/2014, 10:10 AM

Halls of ivy -9/11/2014, 2:16 PM

Local celebs to get behind wheels of race cars -9/11/2014, 8:50 AM

Make and take a pizza for family meal -9/11/2014, 8:50 AM

Children's center hosting events in October -9/9/2014, 5:03 PM

NKAVI meeting Saturday -9/8/2014, 2:34 PM

During September, pay it forward by giving blood -9/8/2014, 4:54 PM

Ribbon cut on K-23 project north of Hoxie -9/8/2014, 11:46 AM

AG Schmidt to visit western Kansas -9/8/2014, 11:37 AM

Kansans invited to come to statewide transportation meetings -9/8/2014, 11:37 AM

Pilot projects to launch Kanstarter -9/8/2014, 11:28 AM

Parenting adolescents starts when they are younger -9/8/2014, 9:11 AM

Clubs and meetings -9/7/2014, 3:59 PM

NSP elects officers -9/7/2014, 3:23 PM

Busting myths about ticks in the U.S. -- Part II -9/7/2014, 3:23 PM

Business Briefcase (Sept. 7, 2014) -9/7/2014, 3:23 PM

Kansas Lottery launches new 'Frogger' game -9/5/2014, 10:26 AM

Dealing with mental illness -9/5/2014, 8:52 AM

Schodorf points to discrepancy in U.S. Senate ruling -9/4/2014, 4:58 PM

Kansas Emergency Preparedness Day is Monday -9/4/2014, 2:59 PM

Guidebook, videos offer convenient information for travel planning -9/4/2014, 12:24 PM

State treasurer announces $1K giveaway at state fair -9/4/2014, 12:23 PM

Extension series brings knowledge -9/4/2014, 12:24 PM

FHSU's Career Services hosts its 27th annual Career-Internship Day -9/3/2014, 4:28 PM

Discuss watering tips for the drought during Science Cafe -9/3/2014, 4:28 PM

Tigers in Service, Hays Rotary Club host 4th annual Paint-A-Thon -9/3/2014, 4:28 PM

FHSU's online degree program earns national recognition -9/3/2014, 4:27 PM

Massage therapy training now offered through Department of Health and Human Performance -9/3/2014, 4:27 PM

5th-graders will take a field trip to Forsyth Library -9/3/2014, 4:27 PM

Local grocery store partners with FHSU to donate food items -9/3/2014, 4:27 PM

FHSU alumnus accepted into the 2015 NCECA exhibition -9/3/2014, 2:56 PM

Dedication ceremony for K-161 in Bird City planned -9/3/2014, 2:56 PM

Local students awarded degrees from FHSU -9/3/2014, 1:44 PM

Estes brings unclaimed property to state fair -9/3/2014, 11:01 AM

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SPOTLIGHT
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Planning ahead for Christmas will relieve stress, save money

Published on -10/17/2013, 8:02 AM

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As soon as trick-or-treaters finish their holiday haunting, Halloween candy will disappear from stores and something else will fill the shelves. Do you know what comes next? Yes, Christmas.

Unbelievably, on a business trip to Manhattan in the last week of August, I was surprised to see a large craft store already filled with Christmas decorations. It sure seems awfully early to be thinking about Christmas. Or does it?

Being early with thoughts of the holiday season isn't such a bad idea. Remember the hectic last-minute shopping, the late hours put in to finish a handmade gift, the rush to address cards and finish the holiday baking? Whew! It makes me tired just to think about it.

Maybe we all should begin to think about the holidays just a little now. I'll bet we could enjoy the season more if we didn't feel exhausted and broke during most of it.

What can be done now to prepare for Christmas? Lots of things. Think about your normal holiday activities and consider which parts might be done (or at least started) early. Here are a few ideas to help you plan ahead and spread out those holiday costs a little.

* Start the holiday season by making a list of all the things you are likely to spend money on. This will certainly include Christmas gifts, but think also about holiday extras such as gift wrap, decorations, greeting cards, postage, extra groceries for holiday meals and baking, eating out, extra child care, and gasoline for shopping trips and holiday travel. Compare your list to the amount of money you have available to spend at this time of year. The key is to create a budget -- a spending plan that will help you cover seasonal expenses -- and stick to it.

* Start putting away $1 a day from now until December 23. You'll save about $65 from your pocket change for those extra holiday expenses.

* Start thinking about gifts. Make a list of the people you need to buy for and jot down any preliminary ideas you might have. Don't forget the last minute grab-bag gifts we all seem to need, too. Make a goal to complete this list soon. Divide your list by three for the number of gifts to buy per month in October, November and December. For example, if there are 15 names on your gift list, buy five gifts per month to spread out the cost. Watch for sales on any of your gift ideas and when the price is right, buy them and cross them off your list.

* Ask the people on your gift list to begin making "wish lists" for themselves. I always like to give a gift that the recipient wants or needs. But sometimes my family and friends couldn't think of anything when I asked what they wanted. Or they would say the same thing every year. (My dad's standard reply was always "socks." He figured that was a safe bet.) Given a month or two to think about it, everyone will probably come up with a few items they'd like.

Begin a wish list for yourself, too. Then you'll also be prepared when approached with the what-do-you-want-for-Christmas questions.

* If you plan to make any gifts, now is a good time to select patterns, purchase supplies and get started. This will save money only if it is cheaper to make it yourself, so comparison-shop at local gift shops and crafts fairs. (Remember, the cost is doubled if you run out of time to finish a project and have to buy a gift also.) Be realistic about the time you have to complete the project before you invest in supplies. Starting early might save a lot of sleepy-eyed late nights in the future.

* Watch for sale prices on ingredients for holiday baking. Flour, sugar, shortening, oil, dried fruits and canned goods can be stored easily; nuts can be frozen for longer storage. Buy one or two additional baking ingredients every week to spread out the cost.

* Bake several of your favorite recipes ahead and freeze to enjoy later during the holiday season. We have a fact sheet at the Extension office that gives tips for freezing and thawing baked goods.

* Divide your Christmas card list by six for the number of cards to sign and address each week from now through the end of November. Your cards will be ready to go into the mail in early December and you'll save time the rest of the month for other things.

* Keep track of holiday expenses this year so you know the total cost of your holiday spending. Divide the total by 12 to determine the amount to set aside monthly through the coming year so your holiday funds will be saved in advance next year.

Planning and organizing holiday duties now can save time, energy and money when Christmas arrives. By completing some of the tasks ahead, you'll have more time to enjoy the season. You'll thank yourself.

Linda Beech is a Kansas State University Research & Extension agent in Ellis County specializing in family and consumer sciences. lbeech@ksu.edu

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