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! “]
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)
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.
I haven’t done this but I know that people do this: there’s a list floating around on the Internet of the best times to buy certain items, especially big ticket items. This can help your budget because you can things on your list when they are most likely to be on sale, then stash them away.
In our family, we celebrate both Christmas and Chanukah. For Chankuah, the girls get one big gift, and my nieces/nephew get a book. For Christmas, the girls get new pajamas and slippers (a tradition I started last year…they get them on Christmas Eve), along with a big gift to share (last year, it was a Barbie house and Barbie car!) and a stocking full of goodies. My nieces/nephew will probably get board games and something crafty.
I also made Christmas Eve dinner last year (Puerto Ricans typically do dinner on the Eve of), so I’d like to do that again this year, with a little more planning. I pulled it together at the last minute last year and ended up spending a lot of some prepared dishes.
Nancy recently posted..Three Weeks (or Two Weeks and 6 Days).
I would love Christmas Eve dinner cooked by you! Sounds super tasty. I think we’re really going to keep things super simple with the gifts here, mostly because I HATE clutter!
I’ve never planned this early but it’s a great time to start! Love your suggestions too!
ronnie recently posted..College Towns
I haven’t either, but I think doing so will really reduce a lot of my December stress!
Great list! I usually somehow end up shopping at the last minute, despite all my best efforts. Will have to refer to this list to plan ahead!
I almost always seem to end up at the mall on Christmas Eve which is such a nightmare. Hopefully I won’t this year though!
Ugh!! The mall!! I basically avoid the mall at all costs from Black Friday on. Last year, I did all my shopping on Amazon.
Nancy recently posted..Absolution.
I ADORE Black Friday. I love the thrill of the hunt and waking up early for good deals. I’m hoping though, to be almost done by then this year. We don’t have many people that we buy for these days. And last year, Mike’s family all got something handmade.
This is SUCH a good idea…I always find myself in a mad rush at the holidays doing all this stuff when really life would be MUCH easier if I did it ahead of time! :)-Ashley
The Dose of Reality recently posted..Leaving It All On The Field
Maybe this is the year to start planning ahead. The worst for me is the gift buying and wrapping!
I love being ahead too. I start shopping in June and hold onto a list all year to wait for the items to go on sale and then stash them all over the house!
Love all these Christmas tips – a procrastinator like me can really benefit from planning ahead!
Katie E recently posted..Gardening at Night #ippp
Thank you! I hope that your holiday goes super smooth this year!
I have always hated to start Christmas shopping before Advent starts, but these are some great planning tips to make the other stuff go easier. Also I keep a running wish list on Amazon for my kids. I add to it throughout the year and share it with friends and family around birthdays and holidays.
Rabia @TheLiebers recently posted..Tooth Fairy Nonsense
I like to start early, but not too early. I think by doing some of the prep work now, at least I’ll be prepared. I HATE the mall in December! I think that with my preschooler this year we’re going to suggest more consumable gifts (like swimming lessons, karate, etc) instead of lots of toys!
For the last three years, I’ve completely spaced out on Christmas cards…and because I forget until the last minute, I don’t send any out. This past year, on Christmas Eve, I took a great picture of my kids and the dog in front of the tree, whipped up a card in Photoshop, and posted it to Facebook….*that* was the closest I’ve come to sending a card in years! lol
I really need to buckle down the next few months and plan ahead!
Stacey recently posted..This one time, at the camp out…
I missed sending cards out one year and looking back now, I’m bummed that I missed it. I keep one for our family history and it drives me crazy to know that there is a year missing. I’ve considered making one anyway, just to fill the gap but that seems a little over the top. We keep our holiday card list small (I think I send out 40ish), so I also post it to facebook for all of our far away friends to see!
You had me at Christmas, I found you on the sits linky and as I was skimming through titles, I came across yours. I am a Christmas crazy person. Over the last few years, its been so busy, that I haven’t had the time to enjoy it besides the real reason, I celebrate it. But maybe it’s because I didn’t have a list like yours. This year, I went back to work after 10 years off. I had 4 days off to get ready. Before I knew it it was done. I sent no cards, barely got my tree up, and then had to worry about my daughters birthday two days later.
I think I will incorporate this list before we go back to school this year.
@candilandco recently posted..What is Herbal Tea
I really adore Christmas too! For me, the earlier I can get started on things the better off I’ll be! I know it won’t take long to update my card list and getting stamps will be super easy. For me, brainstorming will be the hardest part!
I will sy I try not to think of Christmas at least before August, but I admit I do get bogged down by certain elements of the holiday as we get closer. So, I do think your tips are great and practical, too. The one thing, I do all year is try to put a certain amount aside from each paycheck to help cover costs of gifts and such. I have a separate checking account that I use as a holiday fund for us. That does help quite a bit here and am very thankful that I started doing that a few years ago.
Janine Huldie recently posted..Today It’s My SITS Girls Day!
What a great idea to put a bit of money aside from your paychecks for your holiday budget, Janine! And a separate checking account? Genius!
Ok, so I had started to freak out a little but then realized that I have totally started a Christmas list wish list & gift ideas tracker for friends and family in Google Docs so YES, you are brilliant! 🙂
Allison recently posted..When to Move, with Kids
No need to freak out, Allison!
I have a Christmas wish list started too. It’s really more like an in my dreams blogging list. I want a new laptop, a custom logo, and to go to EVERY blog conference with unlimited funds!
I love this reminder. Every year, I end up scrambling. I am going to make myself do at least two of these things this weekend. Maybe the holiday card list and stamps. Thanks for writing this! Also I love the term whistle bit and had never heard it before.
Kristi Campbell recently posted..How I Get Inspired to Write
Awesome! Neither one will take you very long to do, but will shave a ton of stress off of your December!
Whistle bit is my favorite! I say it quite a bit!
I’m all about planning ahead when it comes to the holidays and I have found budgeting easier if I start setting aside a little bit of money every month to avoid the pain of spending all of that money at once!
Julie @ Girl on the Move recently posted..Adventures in Denver
What a great idea, Julie! I’m going to start that this month!
Great Ideas for getting started early. Christmas seems so far away but once school begins the race is on! Thank you!
School is right around the corner, too!
These are great tips. I’m starting my Christmas shopping this month. I’ve already bought 2 gifts. I did this last year and didn’t have to fight the criwds, traffic, or last minute sales. My first ever stress free Christmas. I’m stopping by from SITS & I hope you’ve had a great weekend.
Leslie recently posted..5 Practical Tools Youâve Never Heard Of
Thanks for coming by!
I haven’t bought any gifts yet, but I’ve started making my lists. Next week, I’m going to narrow down my cookies!
There was a time that I always prepped for Christmas early. Now if I do anything before December 10 I feel ahead of the game.
Kim recently posted..Mixing Things Up While On Vacation (7/13-7/19)
We all have to do whatever works for us! I HATE feeling overwhelmed in December, so I try to get as much done as possible!
NJ, I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog. This is such a fantastic post. Christmas is also my favorite holiday so why not make it less stressful by planning earlier in the year! Great ideas!
Welcome! I’m glad you stumbled upon it too!
I love Christmas, but I hate the stressed out person it makes me become. Planning helps control the stress so much!
Love this list! Especially the stamps-going to do that tomorrow. Or Monday rather!
I try to go to one or two estate sales during the year to pick up my wrapping paper. It’s always so cheap, I love the vintage look, and it saves them from just being trashed!
Make sure you get the Forever ones, just in case postage goes up again between now and December!
I use brown craft paper for our gifts and jazz them up with ribbons and stamps. Super fun and cheap!
Of course I love this post!!! SO organized and a ton of good ideas. Last year I decided to to the want, need, read, do theme for christmas after over buying AGAIN. I am taking action on your list and getting tape and stamps. Also going to review my Christmas Card List. I buy a lot of my bags and wrap at Target a few days after Christmas when everything is marked down 70%.
PS. there is a good chance you will see me on Christmas 🙂
Tara Newman recently posted..Living with Purpose When Balance is Elusive
If I don’t see your face around the holidays, I will be so sad Tara!
We didn’t do the want, need, read, do theme last year but the ONE thing Malone asked for above all else has been the ONE thing he’s played with everyday. I’m glad we indulged him (it was a fancy hot wheels race track). I’m kicking around the idea of a small getaway this year over break instead of tons of gifts.
These are excellent ideas, NJ. Hanukkah is much less of a big deal than Christmas, so I really only have to worry about gifts and holiday cards. Last year, it started on Thanksgiving, so I was forced to move quickly! This year it starts on December 16th, which is more manageable. I ask my kids to keep lists of gift ideas all year round, so they are ready when the grandparents start asking in October!
Dana recently posted..I’ve always been partial to Beths
Thanks Dana! I remember Hanukkah being super early last year too! Wasn’t the first night on Thanksgiving?
I’ve found that the more organized I am from the beginning, the less stressed I am!
Love that you re-purposed an old post! I mean to do this!!!! I keep a running wishlist for family and for myself so that I can send that out when someone asks ;). Otherwise, I’m always so last minute about Christmas!
lisacng @ expandng.com recently posted..In preparation of 2 birthdays
I guess I did see this before. Its great to have this reminder so we can start planning early.
What a great idea! I really want to believe that I’ll do these things. Just don’t ask me in December whether or not I did 😉
Tricia recently posted..Do you know how your clothes were made?
Reading this article make me realize how close we are from Christmas Season! Indeed, by that time I will be moving back to the states from Germany and for sure I will save lot of $$$ this year 🙂
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I have picked up a couple of Christmas gifts this month, but your post reminded me that I have a lot more to do! 🙂 Thanks for sharing. I saw this on The SITS Sharefest. Have a great weekend.
Pam Garrett recently posted..Essential Ingredient for Good Health — Apple Cider Vinegar
I love the “rule” of the 4 gifts. I need to buy my guys gifts along those guidelines! We only buy for kids and spouses in my family, which helps us to NOT break the bank.
Megan recently posted..Woosaahhh
This takes planning to a whole new level and since I love to be hyper organized (whenever possible) your post sings to me 🙂 Fantastic ideas…I think I always have the hardest time with figuring out what to get for each person in my life, but throughout the year I come across things that would be perfect for that one person… and then I forget. I’m totally going to create a secret Pinterest board (per your suggestion) so I can at least get a head start on that. Thank you for all of the great suggestions 🙂
Stopping in from SITS today–and hope you’re enjoying your weekend!!
Charlotte recently posted..Uninvited
Visiting from SITS Share :). Great tips!! I ALWAYS get bit come December and I’ve vowed not to this year. I really want to keep things simple. you gave me some great ideas to think about to do just that. Thanks!
cindy recently posted..A Big Change this School Year
This is a great, very helpful list. Wow, it makes me want to start today!
Thanks so much for sharing on the SHINE Blog Hop!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. I even bookmarked it! Lol. What great ideas to get a jump on the holiday season.
All of us procrastinators appreciate the heads up!
Great post! I surfed to your site from Raising-Humans.com and enjoyed this column. I’ve always shopped early but never thought about lots of the other little to-dos like getting the Christmas card list ready!