Get organized. What gatherings will we be a part of this year? Is the family coming to your place? Are you going somewhere? Make a budget. I am terrible at this. I hate to sit down and write it out. Every financial guru out there, tells you this is a step you must do. I still hate it, and avoid it at all costs.
Instead, I make a list of items I am going to want. What dishes or desserts do you equate with the season? Is that negotiable or non negotiable? How much should it cost you to buy/make? Can you get it for less? What gifts do you intend on purchasing for who?
My lists include names and corresponding gifts, meal plans and needed ingredients, baking supplies and needed ingredients, hostess gifts, and an event schedule. Once these lists are created I am than able to search out the best deals. I know that on Thanksgiving and Christmas morning we will need cinnamon rolls and good coffee. Our annual Lefse making party will require large amounts of potatoes and flour, as well as evaporated milk. Christmas baking will call for more flour, variety of kinds of sugars, peanut butter, pecans, vanilla extract, almond bark, eggs, shortening, oil, popcorn, corn syrup, molasses, peppermint, candy canes, Hershey Kisses, cherries, walnuts, and an obscene amount of butter. A main meat for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Egg bakes for easy, crowd pleasing breakfasts, cans of pumpkin for muffins, pies, lattes, etc. Sparkling cider, and some brie cheese to bake and take to a party.
Once your extensive lists are made. Then you can start to shop for deals, or set aside money hoping they will be on sale at the last minute. Sometimes it is. I can usually count on potatoes and turkey at a great price as we get closer to the day. Other things like flour, sugar, nuts, and shortening will start going on sale about now. Peanut Butter has a 6 month shelf life, so I like to stock up in August during the back to school sales. I usually pick up my Hershey Kisses right after Halloween on markdown. (Once they are out of the wrapper, you can't tell they came in orange foil vs. red and green.) It is common for pumpkin pie filling to become scarce and more expensive the closer you get to the day. The Sunday coupon inserts will start featuring these items soon, so save those inserts!