But then I remembered what my stepmother used to do for us, growing up: open Christmas savings accounts at our bank!
So that's what I did. I think probably every bank has them - even yours - although they might have some fancy name for it. Ours are called "custom club accounts," but ask at your bank, and I'm sure they'll know exactly what you're talking about.
All you need to do is figure out how much you want to spend at Christmastime, then divide that by however many months you have between when you start and when you want the money - then put that money away each month. At our credit union, we have automatic transfers set up to take the money directly out of our savings account once a month, before I even know the money is there to spend, so it doesn't even get noticed.
Then, when Christmas rolls around - or October, when I usually feel like starting (and finishing!) my shopping - I just head to the bank and empty the account. Voilà! Sometimes, rarely, we don't spend it all and just put it back in the bank. Sometimes, we go over the amount - but just a little, and it certainly doesn't hurt nearly as much as trying to come up with all our shopping money at once or putting hundreds of dollars on the ol' credit card.
And that? Works for me! Be sure to go back and visit Shannon's site for more great tips!