Christmas in July to do list. Easy peasy lemon squeezy things you can do NOW to AVOID STRESS later.

Christmas Day is just a few months away. It is nice and warm outside, but I’ve got Christmas on my mind. Every December, I seem to get whistle bit both with my budget and my time. Never heard of the term whistle bit? It means working or scrambling to finish up past quitting time. Thank you grandparents and your fun 1940’s phrases!

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays and also causes me a lot stress. I end up with big ideas but little time and money. This year though, will be different. I realized there are some things I CAN do now that will make the season less stressful.

[Tweet “Easy Peasy! 10 things to do now to make Christmas less stressful! “]

Christmas in July to do list. 10 amazing things you can do now to avoid December stress via www.acookiebeforedinner.com

1. Set a budget. Seems easy enough right? I’m going to set aside some time and look at the hard numbers when it comes to our extra expenditures in December. If I really take a look at this area it seems daunting. But, if I break it down into categories it doesn’t seem so bad.  I am going to brainstorm specifically beyond this, but it will give you a general idea. 

  • Gifts (family, friends, mailman, teachers, etc)
  • Food & Entertaining – (baking, holiday meal or party contributions)
  • Giving  (extra donations to charity outside of what we normally give)
  • Decorations (tree, ornaments, etc)
  • Travel
  • Correspondence

2. Update the holiday card list. I keep a master list in google docs, but each year there are a few changes that I need to make. Our general rule is that if you’d recognize us by our photo and first names alone, chances are likely that you’ll be getting a card from us. If I had an unlimited budget, I’d send a card to everyone I’ve ever met. But I don’t. And I don’t feel guilty about it either.

Things I’ll be updating:

  • Who has moved?
  • Who has passed away? 
  • Who has gotten married or divorced?
  • Who has welcomed another member to their family since last year?
  • Who needs to be added because our friendship has grown?
  • Who needs to be deleted OR who do I need to follow up with to see how life is going?

[Tweet ” Time to update your Christmas card list!  Babies, divorce, marriage, death.”]

3. Buy stamps. Now that I know approximately how many cards I’ll be sending this year, I’ll run out for stamps and stash them away. BOOM. One less December errand to run in the yucky weather.

4. Determine travel plans. As soon as we had Malone, we put our foot down on Christmas travel plans. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are spent in our area code. Our closest relative is 3 hours away and we’re happy to host anyone who wants to travel to us. But typically, we spend Christmas Eve with our close friends with a meal of pizza and wine. We spend Christmas Day with another set of friends over Chinese food. It is nice and slow. Just the way we like it.

Often, we alternate between my family in Illinois and my brother and sister in laws house in Pennsylvania for New Years. It is time to start thinking about where we are going and if we need tickets to get there.

5. Brainstorm gift giving ideas and shop early if I can. Now that I know everyone that I would like to give to and my budget, I can make a more concrete list. And, hopefully score some of these items on sale!

6. Brainstorm gift ideas for ourselves. My mother in law adores to shop from a list. Because we are waging a war on clutter, we need to be extra thoughtful about things. I keep a “to splurge on” board on pinterest and Mike almost always wants triathlon or cycling gear. Last year, my mother in law was able to stretch her own budget a little further when the wet suit Michael really wanted went on a random flash sale in October. It was a win for everyone. He got exactly what he wanted and she got it at a super low price.

7. Brainstorm gift ideas for the kids. Malone and Lola will likely get a mix of things they want and things they need. I adore watching things getting unwrapped beneath the tree but I need to be creative so we keep the clutter of Christmas gifts low.

I’d love follow this rule this year.

  • Something you want.
  • Something you need.
  • Something to read.
  • Something to do.

8. Test out and pick my holiday cookie recipes. Every year, I get super excited about cookies in December. And every year my brain is bigger than my heart and I decide to make eleventy billion different kinds of cookies. This proves to be a terrible idea for my sanity, my wallet, and my waistline. This year I’m limiting myself to two,  frosted sugar cookies and a wild card. Typically, the wild card is given away to friends and family so it needs to be stellar and done well. I hope I can narrow it down to just one!

9. Brainstorm Advent activity ideas & gather supplies. There are a couple of really great ideas floating out there. Every year I want to do them and every year I catch the bug too late. I don’t know if we’ll do a Jesse Tree, Truth In The Tinsel, or something different. But this year, we will do something if I get on top of the game now.

10. Stash away tape, scissors, and wrapping. The most frustrating thing in the world is running out of wrapping supplies in the middle of the process or wanting to start and now having all the supplies I need. I love to reuse things and think paper grocery bags make the perfect blank wrapping canvas. It is time to start saving them and to be on the look out for pretty ribbon!

How early do you start thinking about Christmas? Let me know in the comments below!

This post originally appeared on A Cookie Before Dinner in July 2013, when I had approximately 5 readers who all commented the first time around. 

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