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I LOVE to plan things way ahead of time. I might not be the best person to listen to about when to start planning for Christmas if you arelady drive your family crazy about planning events early.
Would you believe I thought about asking my parents about the holiday plans the weekend of July 4th?
It was more out of my own mental preparation and sanity than anything. But I told myself to chill, that I had plenty of time, and that I could handle waiting another few months before asking.
This post is all about learning when to start planning Christmas and what to do.
Why You Should Start Planning For Christmas Early
Planning ahead of time is so freeing. You may not be as crazy as me thinking about the holidays in the middle of summertime, but it might be a smart habit to start thinking about Christmas plans just a bit earlier than after thanksgiving.
Taking a moment to think about the holidays earlier can help you reduce holiday stress and create a much better holiday spirit. Make your next holiday season the best it can be.
When To Start Planning For Christmas
Lots of people will say that you should start planning for Christmas around the middle of October…… Oh dear friend you have missed the boat.
When it comes to finding deals, organizing, and budgeting, that is way too late.
You need to start planning for Christmas in the first week of July.
Here is why that matters. Thanksgiving is its own VERY busy holiday. It takes up a lot of meal planning and even travel expenses. Then we have to do it all over again a month later but throwing a list of gifts a mile long into the mix.
Let’s say you start planning in July, you need to take off those 6 weeks at the end of the year. That leaves you with 4.5 months left to plan, get ready for, cook for, and decorate for TIMES TWO!
I will get to budgeting in a sec but you need to give yourself time to plan out Christmas and set a budget for all the things you will be spending money on. Would you rather spread the $600 extra you spend on Christmas out over 6 months or do you like trying to find an extra $300 in your monthly budget because you didn’t start planning until the end of October? See where I am going with this?
When you start early you set yourself up to really enjoy the most wonderful time of the year. You can do more fun things because you chose to spread your budget out as far as possible instead of packing it into the last two months of the year.
Christmas is a time when families and friends get together to celebrate the holiday. If you start planning ahead of time, it will make the holidays far less stressful.
Here are some tasks you can do to get ready for Christmas and help set the tone for your next holiday season.
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#1. Decide What You Want To Do Around The Holiday
This might sound really simple but what do you want to do for Christmas. Do you want to stay home or go on vacation? Do you want to make cookies for neighbors, holiday traditions you want to keep, go see Christmas lights, or are there fun events close by. Once you figure that out, start making your plans.
If you’re staying home, start planning your decorating (this might sound too early but trust me if you go at it willy nilly you can take a REALLY long time) and buying gifts. If you’re going on vacation, book your flights and hotels.
If you are having dinner at your house you can start planning the guest list so you know how many people you need to feed.
#2. Update Tour Calendar
Taking a look at your holiday calendar can help you determine what dates need to be set aside for your ideal holiday. This is one of my favorite planners to use. AND if you raise animals like I do that are a little more flexible when they can be bred make sure to NOT schedule animals to be due to have their babies Christmas week.
Do you want to take a vacation during the holidays? Mark the time off now and book any accommodations or activities well in advance. This can help you save time and money. But you will also have less risk of the places you want to go being booked full. Tickets for airlines tend to be cheaper the earlier you buy.
#3. Getting Things Done Ahead Of Time Will Leave Space For Creating Memories
We love the idea of making decorations, DIY gifts, having a Hallmark movie night, and doing more fun things at Christmas but we are so busy who has time for that.
If you get things like shopping for gifts, buy gift bags that can be decorated, and things that won’t spoil done ahead of time you will have a lot more time to do the things you really want to do. Your holiday spirit will be in full swing.
#4. Declutter And Organize
Whether you have more Christmas decorations than you can handle or you really have no idea what you have on hand for the Christmas party. Take the time to organize what you have, purge what you don’t want to use anymore, and take stock of what you do have to avoid overspending.
#5. Budget Ahead Of Time
Creating a budget means you have to have TIME in between the “due date” as it were and the day you are in right now. You have to be able to spread out the cost of Christmas and all that comes with it.
Things like food, gifts, travel, and decorations are all expenses that come along with Christmas.
#6. Get Some Shopping Done
If you know there are certain items your family will want this holiday season, take advantage of the summertime sales during the Fourth of July weekend.
Things like canned goods or dry food will be just fine if you buy them 4-6 months out. Even frozen foods can be bought early.
Let’s not forget about gifts. You can buy those throughout the year and spread out your budget. Those surprise gift exchanges are a great reason to have something waiting in the wings to grab a gift during your busy season.
Getting some of your shopping out of the way will create more time for better things once the holidays roll around, plus you will ensure there is plenty of selection of big-ticket items you don’t want to miss out on.
Make a list of the food you need to buy as well as gift lists so you can know exactly what you bought. My mom used to find gifts she forgot about and we would make out pretty good some years.
#7. Make The Big Decisions
If you are going to be hosting the holiday it’s a good time to make big decisions early. The sooner you decide what your holiday will look like, who will be coming, and begin to connect the dots, the better.
You can reach out to distant family who needs to make travel arrangements for the holiday party to give them notice about the plans. If you are going to do anything radically different, it’s also a good time to decide and let anyone know who may be affected.
Giving extra time is never a bad thing. Plenty of notice can ease any ruffled feathers that might be caused otherwise. (But I’m sure your family never complains and gets in a tizzy)
#8. Plan Your Christmas Card List
You might have a hard time buying Christmas cards months in advance at the store but you can order some very nice cards on amazon if you want to get a jump on getting them written. If you write one a day you will be able to spend more time on them and make them much more meaningful.
If you are going to send Christmas cards but you are not ready to buy the cards you can start compiling a list of names and addresses.
#9. Plan Christmas Dinners And Contributions
If you go to a lot of places for Christmas (which can get very tiresome but sometimes we just have to grin and bar it.) you can plan out the holiday menu to save stress.
- Pro tip: Think about what you will be making to take to each holiday dinner. Can you make a larger batch of something and save a portion to take to the holiday get-together?
This side to aunt Sally’s and this dessert to Grandma Jenny’s.
But then make sure to plan any meals you will be having at your own home so you know exactly what you are making or what you should ask others to bring. People don’t mind bringing food and it sounds nice to say “bring whatever you like” but it’s more helpful if they know exactly what to bring and you can tell them WAY ahead of time.
#10. Start Looking For Holiday Recipes Now
Making seasonal food is a huge part of feeling like the holiday season is in full swing. Start looking for holiday recipes ahead of time to you can either try them out a few months pryers you can know if it is a bust BEFORE taking it somewhere or handing it to your family and not getting the result you hoped for.
It’s never too early to plan. Taking some time mid-summer to plan for your holiday season can ease the stress down the line. Making the big decisions, setting up a holiday organizer, making holiday travel plans, locking down important dates and reservations, and grabbing those big-ticket items can take a huge load off your plate come the holiday season.