While Advent, the season of preparation ahead of the Christmas celebration, is still months away, we believe it’s never too early to start planning and prepping for the season of giving.
Because let’s face it, when the holiday season “officially” arrives, our schedules can get pretty chaotic—despite our best attempts to stay true to old traditions of taking time to reflect and slow down in anticipation of the big day.
So, while the summer sun continues to shine, there are several ways you can get ahead of the Christmas chaos so you not only feel more prepared, but are prepared to enjoy the season to its fullest and stress a little less.
1. Reflect on Christmases Past
Christmas is a time of joy. It’s a time of hope. It’s a time of love. And it’s a time of stress. As a result, perhaps one of the best ways you can prepare to maximize the joy, hope, and love is to reflect on the things that typically distract or cause distress.
- What is my favorite memory from last year’s celebration? (And what’s my least favorite?)
- What is one of my favorite memories of all time? (And what’s my least favorite?)
- What’s something that brings me joy during the season? (And what stresses me out?)
By taking time to reflect on the joy and peril of the season, you can start making decisions on how you’d like to spend your time and what critical items you want to delete—or check off early—from your to-do list.
2. Outline a Working Plan
Once the holiday season arrives, most of us are struggling to fit every activity into our schedules—and our budgets.
Take the time now to start crafting a living plan that you can use as a guide leading up to and through the season. Some items to start planning for include:
Your budget. In 2016, the average American consumer spent just under $940 on Christmas gifts. And that total in 2017 was expected to be roughly the same. Of course, this doesn’t include decor, family portraits, wrapping paper or stationary, and the list goes on. Take the time now to set a budget for your holiday expenditures so you can start saving and minimize the financial impact when the season is in full swing.
Your gift list. Once the season hits, we all scramble to find the perfect gift for everyone on our list. Chances are you’ve already had a couple of fleeting ideas for people, but they’ve been forgotten. Take the time now to think about the gifts you’d like to give.
Your schedule of activities. Are there parties, fundraisers, or entertainment events you attend every year? If you already know when some of the events are set for, plot them out on your calendar.
Your holiday essentials. While you may not be able to purchase a live Christmas tree yet, there are probably plenty of other Advent supplies (like Advent candles or Advent calendars) or Christmas essentials you purchase (sometimes at the last minute) every year that you can get a jump start on.
The downtime you need. If you want to enjoy the season, you need to make sure you have time to sit back and relax. As you plot your activities, look for opportunities for popping in black-out dates for relaxation and reflection.
3. Order Your Christmas Cards
Whether you’re a traditionalist who sends out cards with handwritten, personalized messages, or you’re a modernist who likes to design, print, and ship your Christmas greetings, now is a great time to order your Christmas cards.
Think about it. Making sure you have every Christmas card stuffed, addressed, stamped, and mailed in a timely manner is a stressor. Either you wait to order at the last minute and have to pay extra to get the cards on time or you have limited options as things sell out. So, consider checking this item off your list early.
In addition, take the time to review and update your mailing list. If there’s an address you’re missing, you can reach out before the hustle and bustle of the season.
4. Stockpile Holiday Pantry Essentials
We know that a week or two before Thanksgiving grocers will have massive sales on traditional holiday staples. But navigating the grocery stores and nabbing your needed items before they’re gone, is a stressful experience.
Instead keep your eyes peeled now for deals on the non-perishable pantry items you know you’ll need once the holiday hits. Quite obviously, this not only saves you money now, but also grocery store shopping headaches later.
5. Bake & Freeze
Do you bake an obscene amount of Christmas cookies or other bakery treats every holiday season? Do you love the baking act, but hate the baking marathon that’s required? Then why not bake some of your holiday treats ahead of time and freeze them?
More than likely, many of your favorite recipes can withstand a few months in the freezer. Of course, do a little research ahead of time to make sure they’ll survive the thaw.
Or if you want to have that fresh baked taste really come through, consider just making the dough ahead of time. Kitchn.com has a great tutorial on how to freeze cookie dough.
6. Start Checking Names Off Your Gift List
Take advantage of Christmas in July sales.
“Christmas in July” dates back more than 100 years, originating in North Carolina at a summer camp of all places. Today, as retailers switch into Back-to-School gear, the summer sales season begins.
Take advantage of Christmas in July and other summer sales to stock up on stocking stuffers and gifts. To give you a little inspiration, click on any of the sale categories below to browse and shop our sale items.
Carve out time to craft your homemade gifts.
Every year you plan to make something from scratch for some of the people on your list. And every year you’re cutting, knitting, sewing, stitching, glueing, or crafting like crazy. Or you simply make a last minute trip to the mall.
When you’re making your plan, make a decision on what handcrafted gifts you’d like to give. Then make it a point to get the necessary materials in the next couple weeks. Then, as the weeks come and go, when you have downtime you’ll have everything at your fingertips to make good on your crafting commitment.
7. Declutter, Donate, & Deep Clean As You Go
As the summer winds down and the school year kicks off, it’s the perfect time to do a little “fall” cleaning to get ready for the winter (and holiday season). This means decluttering, donating, and deep cleaning as you go.
The best part about this suggestion is that you can serve multiple agendas:
- You’re getting rid of items that may be weighing your home or mind down.
- You’re giving items to local organizations that desperately need items to do the work they do—especially in the run-up to the holidays. It’s the season of giving, after all.
- You’re deep cleaning your home little by little, reducing the crazy effort ahead of any holiday get-togethers you may be hosting.
Prepare Now to Enjoy Later
As it’s said, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Give yourself the chance to enjoy it and truly relish the big and little moments that define your holiday.
From pre-planning your budget and gift list to ordering Christmas cards while the summer sun still shines, there are things you can easily work into your schedule now so you can rest and reflect a little easier when Christmas comes.