It's April now. How ya hanging in there? If you haven't started considering Christmas, go back and read the 12 Months of Christmas posts to catch up.
Now is a great time to gather materials if you haven't already. Consider craft stores like Michaels, AC Moore, Hobby Lobby, etc. Each week they come out with some new, awesome coupon- 40% off 1 regular price item! 50% off 1 item, 25% off your whole order including clearance.
Why pay full price for items you need? Is there a person in your life that loves to bake cookies? Why not put together a cookie basket- include cookie cutters, a cookie sheet, mixing bowl, sprinkles, etc- and buy each item with a coupon! Save things like sprinkles for closer to Christmas, but there is no reason not to buy the non perishable items earlier. Simply make note of what you bought.
Maybe you want to crochet your sister a scarf. Find a pattern, figure out how much and what kind of yarn you need, then look for "no dye lots"- you can buy a skein at a time at 40% off. If you need 3 skeins at $5 each, you will spend $9 buying them with coupons separately, rather than rushing to get them all at once in early December because you waited too long. If you have a friend or two that you often go out with, maybe they will be willing to buy the yarn for you with a coupon and money you provide (most craft places accept printable copies or take them right off your phone).
Know someone that wants to learn a craft? Put together a crafting basket the same way- one piece at a time, with a coupon!
Even if you want to skip all this homemade stuff, keep your eyes out for coupons or sales run in your stores. Have a Vera Bradley fanatic in your household? Their outlet often posts great sales. Bath & Body Works lover around? Pick up their favorite scents with a coupon such as "Get a Free Signature item with any $10 purchase" or during their semi-annual sales.
Coupons are your best friends as long as you don't wait too long. Even in December, there are still great deals to be had, but beware of buying something just because it's on sale or overspending because of a great deal. Keep in mind, if you bank on the sales at Christmas, you may spend more in time and gas than you save trying to find hot items. If you must shop the toy/electronic sales, try to limit who you need to buy for to just a few people, rather than leaving your entire list to the last minute. This gives you the opportunity to shop the deals, without setting you up for marathon shopping weekends.
Catch up on all the 12 Months of Christmas posts here.