Ask the Readers: Have You Started Holiday Prep?

By Ashley Jacobs on 17 September 2013 (Updated 24 September 2013) 75 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Guest, Tabathia, and Rebecca for winning this week's contest!

Halloween is just around the corner — and the other year-end holidays are right behind it. Depending on how big the festivities are, some people may plan and budget for the holiday season months in advance.

Have you started preparing for the holidays yet? Which holidays are you celebrating this year? What can you do ahead of time, and what will have to wait until the festivities begin?

Tell us if you've started to prep for the holidays and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry:

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

For extra entries:

  • You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:
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    If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

    Giveaway Rules:

    • Contest ends Monday, September 23rd at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after September 23rd on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
    • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
    • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
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Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Tina in NJ

In fact, I ordered some gift certificates from the credit card rewards program just last night. We've got 7 nieces and nephews who celebrate the whole gamut of holidays. I've started making luggage tags for each and they'll get either a GC or cash as well (they range in age from 11-18, so homemade play dough is not appropriate. If I don't add anything to my to-do list, I should be done by Halloween!

Guest's picture
Mary Happymommy

I haven't started holiday prep yet.

Guest's picture
Guest

I have started a little in regards to prepping for the holidays.

Guest's picture
Sheila

I already have 5 gifts bought and hidden! All on sale too!

Guest's picture
Robin McCown

Yep! My sister in law and I are giving our families baskets with canned stuff and other homemade stuff. Canning season is in full swing!

Guest's picture
Stephanie

I always start in September, although I sort of plan year-round! Our Christmas budget for each year is determined by how much money I have earned taking surveys online. Every September, I check to see how many points I have with each survey company and make goals for how many points I need by the time I want to cash out in November. Also in September, I go through my Evernote and my Amazon gift idea lists where I have been saving ideas all year, and I choose gifts for everyone. By the end of September, I usually know my budget and what I am buying!

Guest's picture
Monica

I've just started thinking about christmas. All my plans depend on if we get time off or not, and we don't know yet. As soon as we do, I can plan christmas gifts better. Halloween boxes are out and costumes are started but that's it.

Guest's picture
Betty D.

I've made my fall wreath, hung it on my door last weekend, and that's as far as I've gotten. Thanksgiving I cook the night before, and I can't bring myself to think about Christmas yet. I'm still planning a few more beach days!

Guest's picture
Steph

I started purchasing Christmas gifts a month ago. Since I have a huge family, I find it less stressful on my pocketbook to buy a gift with each paycheck (one each week) so by the time Christmas rolls around, I have all of my shopping done and I am not in debt. I even stock up on new ornaments and decorations in July when they are super cheap.

Guest's picture
KelR1

Noooo, I haven't even begun to think about Thanksgiving and Christmas yet. Not sure if my family will be doing a gift exchange this year. To simplify things last year we had a scaled-down version. I haven't even bought Halloween candy yet! I usually wait until much closer to the holiday to start doing anything for it.

Guest's picture
Guest

Definitely haven't started getting ready for the holidays, but I am setting aside a couople extra dollars each week for a "gift" fund - that way when the holidays come around, I won't be short-changed!

Guest's picture
Brenda Faulkner

My son's birthday is Christmas day so I always start shopping in September!

Guest's picture
Kate Hesser

I have started preparing for Christmas and to map out the activities we want to do to celebrate fall, including apple picking, farm visits, get-togethers with friends. I have also mapped out when I will be addressing our cards, taking the holiday photo, having our tree trimming party, setting up other decorations, doing my baking, etc.

Guest's picture
Karen L.

No, but thanks for the reminder...

Guest's picture
Therese

I have not started yet.

Guest's picture
Maria S

I haven't started decorating, but I've started buying Christmas gifts for sure!

Guest's picture

I'm a procrastinator, so I usually do things last minute!

Guest's picture
Rachel

This is resonant -- the turn in weather this week has made me start to think about planning my holiday shopping starting now! I've already bought one present, and I wish I'd have started sooner :)

Guest's picture
Karen

I have not started holiday prep- looks like
I am behind again in 2013!
Karen

Guest's picture
Cindy

Not yet....waiting on the hubby to get down the fall decorations from the attic!

Guest's picture
Elena

I already got a few Christmas gifts on sale

Guest's picture
Jennifer

Not as much as I normally do. I only have one present bought and usually I am at least 25% done but now. I have been window shopping and have started a wish list with gift ideas for my family on Amazon though and hope to get myself into the mode within the next few weeks.

Guest's picture
donna

Holiday Prep has begun. Years ago I downsized my holiday spending and anxiety about gifts by declaring there will only be real gifts for people under 18 or students; adults will get a filled stocking from Santa. I also said I am not accepting gifts other than food or disposable items, or handmade things. My family has cooperated fully. For 2 year I received a handmade ornament from each family member,even the 4 yer old. Another year, each person made me a food gift all by themselves. I fill each person's stocking with things I find all year. I shop the Woot, Yugster and other one sale a day type websites for small bargains.I check Amazon and eBay too.So all summer, I have been getting little things and tossing them into a shopping bag, a football dvd for one, a bbq basting brush for another, some new books, etc. I also make homemade candy, chutney, nut treats and jams .The best thing I have done for the holidays, though is to move all this to the Sunday before Christmas. That day is called Cookie day. I make dough and provide icing and decorations and the family make cookies all day long. I serve lasagna and salad and we open gifts and socks. This way, my son and family can have one less place to visit on Christmas Eve and Day and I get them when they are not stressed and burned out. The lasagna is made ahead and inexpensive; the salad is in a bag and I can relax too. Everyone is happy with this new system and no one ever wants to miss Cookie Day.Needless to say, I do not spend as much as when I had to have 4 gifts for each person and an elaborate meal on Christmas Eve. Then the real bonus, I have a new relationship and my boyfriend has a single sister my age. I told her let's not shop and buy gifts for Christmas,, let's go somewhere instead with the money. She was grateful not to have to shop for a new person or her brother anymore and I reminded her we all have everything. So since we are free on Christmas eve and day, we go to a nice hotel in resort town and have a few great holiday dinners out and sightsee.

Guest's picture
Gina

Yes! There are only 98 days until Christmas. I'm setting aside money for small presents and charitable donations. Also thinking about dinner and travel plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Guest's picture
Holly

Is it Dec. 23 already? (IE: No, I have not. sigh.)

Guest's picture
Michelle

I haven't started preparing yet, but I do love Christmas. And Thanksgiving. And Halloween! :)

Guest's picture
DeeDee

I plan ahead by having a Christmas Club with my local bank and the check arrives in October. I write down ideas for folks as the months go by, so I have some good items ready to purchase when the check comes. We have never overdone it on the gifts and the buying is done for our grandchild, our children, parents, nieces and nephews still in school/college and that is it. Hubby and I haven't bought for each other gifts for years, after 35 years of marriage what do we need besides our health and happiness.

Guest's picture
OFG

No. I haven't even started thinking about the holidays yet!

Guest's picture
C.j.

Yes I've already planned for the holidays. I shop clearance sales for holiday decor. I also try to celebrate Christmas after its over Yes, I surely do. I wait until the end of December to put up my tree and decorate. That way I can get ornaments and a tree for nearly 90% off Christmas might be over but its still the holiday season to me! As for presents we have holiday potlucks instead that way everyone just brings a finger sandwich or a dessert and cookies to save on presents. Sometimes we even make a Christmas pinata for the kids to break open

Guest's picture
Catherine

I am starting my seasonal part time job, but that's about it.

Guest's picture
J. Pario

No, I haven't, but that's a good idea!

Guest's picture
Michael

I've started my planning, but not my actual shopping as of yet. Figuring out what to get family members can be the hardest part.

Guest's picture
Christie

Uh, not yet. Usually I have a few things put aside, but not this year. :) Soon though. We have a few other things to get through including a vacation before I concentrate on that!

Guest's picture

I started buying Christmas gifts already, with the goal of being done on Black Friday. We obviously can't get our tree until December, but I also like to save the baking until December. Baking Christmas cookies in October just doesn't have the same appeal!

Guest's picture
Kathy

I'm accumulating cash rewards on my grocery card to cash out next month, paying for all the supplies for my holiday homemade treats. I've got a bag full of stocking stuffers and free or on clearance Bath and Body Works items for gift bags. I'm working on figuring out the bigger items next and getting pumped for Black Friday sales!!

Guest's picture
A Fun Mom

YES! I started by hitting "The World's Longest Yardsale" in August and this past weekend's "Flea Across Florida" (Yard sale that goes across Fla. on HWY 90). I picked up scores of great deals so now I have the freedom to wait for super sales such as Black Friday & Monday after Thanksgiving to complete our list. Most everything is new, bought just for the person in mind, and since I paid as I went....I stay DEBT-FREE!!! (No hassles fighting the crowds at the malls or paying for shipping online.) I am amazed at the really good stuff people sell at these events. I have a wonderful time, usually find what I want and feel way less stressed, as the holidays approach knowing at least the gifts are done. If only I could find a Bakesale for all my Holiday baking! LOL

Guest's picture
Ashley

I've started on what might be the most fun part of holiday shopping: stocking stuffers. I have a list of ideas for the rest of the gifts, and can't wait to start decorating for Halloween and wintertime!

Guest's picture
Ernest S.

Not yet, and I feel like I can't start prepping until the weather starts cooling down!

Guest's picture
Guest

I haven't started for Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas yet. For Halloween I always wait until the last minute. Throwing a costume together out of nothing can save you money and works your creative muscle. I never buy candy, because I live in an apartment. If I get invited to a party I just find a quick cocktail recipe to make a day before. Thanksgiving is always a big one for me, I plan a week or two in advance so that I can make a nice well prepared meal. Being organized in the kitchen helps me avoid disasters and if I plan well I can by things that are in season and even on sale. This Christmas like every Christmas I will make homemade gifts. I will try to do it ahead of time so I might try one of these gift ideas from apartment therapy.com

Guest's picture
Jen

No, I don't "do" Christmas, it's just another day to me.

Donna Freedman's picture

I've ordered some gift cards from a couple of rewards programs, for gifts and also for shopping.
I've inventoried the ingredients for making Christmas candy to give away, and made sure I had sufficient tins (from the thrift shop, of course) in which to give them.
Now I'm looking for the best deal I can get on an airline ticket to visit my daughter for Christmas. Ho, ho, etc.

Guest's picture
Stefanie

I've started buying gifts for my family, but no decoration prep at the moment. We moved nearly 2 months ago now and have been too exhausted and busy to fully unpack yet - so that has to be done before anything holiday related happens in the house!

I like to take advantage of sales to find items I know my family will like for gifts - so I keep an eye out all year round for gift items.

Guest's picture
Q

UGH. NO. It is mid September. In my world, Halloween prep starts like a month from now (granted, I'm not throwing a party). Thanksgiving prep starts, I dunno, sometime in November. Christmas season starts at Advent. It is SO not holiday time yet.

Guest's picture
SabrinaA

I haven't purchased anything yet, but I have started a list and have started saving money for gifts. I think this year my family will be getting more homemade gifts!

Guest's picture
Alissa A

I don't even want to think of the holidays yet!

Guest's picture
Olivia

Yep. We have 26 siblings, nieces, nephews, other relatives and special friends. I start right after Christmas and am usually done by Thanksgiving. Just in time for mailing. It would be nuts to attempt that kind of shopping fast on our budget. The only things I hold off on are baked goods and homemade candies. Those are done closer to the date and mailed the week before Christmas.

Guest's picture
Diane

We'll be out of town for Halloween, so nothing to cover there. We'll be celebrating Thanksgiving & Christmas. We don't need any early prep for Thanksgiving, so nothing going on there.

I have started my Christmas idea list for gifts for the immediate family. And I've purchased one gift that was out of stock near the holidays last year. I'm planning to start shopping on Amazon in October!

Guest's picture
Liisa

Yes! I love giving gifts, so I tend to pick things up as I see them with the holidays in mind. I also just purchased 6 packages of blank notecards for half off and plan to make sets of greeting cards with photos I've taken as gifts for most of my family. It takes the pressure off to get started now!

Guest's picture
Abby

I haven't started yet, but I sure have thought about it!

Guest's picture
Kristin Murphy

I start preparing in the summer - when we vacation, I think of people who might like things as we shop. There are some great deals, and instead of buying meaningless "souvenirs," I have fun buying a few things for my friends and family!

Guest's picture

Holiday prep? What holiday prep? (that would be a no!)

Guest's picture
Monique

I haven' yet. I have a pretty small family that likes to keep the holidays simple, so there's not too much preparation required anyway. It's more just about enjoying the time together for us.

Guest's picture

Totally on top of it. I keep an eye out all year for inexpensive gifts that actually mean something to the people on my list rather than last minute buys with no sentimental value. I found some weird Russian soda pop for my dad for $1.99 that I know he'll get a kick out of and a weird box of tissues with funny parenting jokes on it for my mom for a buck in one of those Target sale bins.

Guest's picture
BRB

We've started planning our Halloween party, we're going to Mexico for Thanksgiving and I have a few Christmas gifts, but I'm not done.

Guest's picture
Andrew

I just started planning yesterday when I saw a zombie cookie cutter that will be great for my brother.

Guest's picture
Dan

Family coming in for Thanksgiving this year instead of Christmas. 1st Christmas for new grandson so....planning already so that full blown Christmas will be in place for Thanksgiving week.

Guest's picture
Claudia

We've started making big jars of homemade vanilla extract and limoncello which should be ready by the end of November. I've ordered the individual bottles I plan to gift them in and created personalized labels. They'll serve as both Christmas gifts and hostess gifts!

Guest's picture
Christina

I saw a recipe for something that I decided I will make for Thanksgiving and we are thinking about travel plans but no purchasing gifts for Christmas yet.

Guest's picture
Guest

I made my egg nogg, it's sitting in the dark, cool basement; just waiting for Christmas.

Guest's picture
Chris

I already started shopping I have about 5 gifts purchased with dates in September and October for more shopping. Goal is to be done by Thanksgiving.

Guest's picture
ashley

I buy christmas gifts for the same people every year so all year long I buy gifts for the people on my list when they're at a good price. I only have one person left and if I keep track of what to buy people in my amazon cart I can buy them when I have gift cards to somewhere.

Guest's picture
Deb K

I have started holiday prep, sort of. We bought my daughter a gift, and then my husband lost his job, so we decided to hang on to it for Christmas. then I saw a great sale for items for my husband and our renter just about a week ago, so I have a little something for them, too. In addition, I have something pre-ordered on Amazon using points from my Amazon Visa card and am saving those and my Swagbucks gift cards for gifts.

Guest's picture
Cat mom

I started 2 days after last Christmas. I spend Christmas with my adopted family of 9 (and 3 dogs) out of state so we always go shop the after Christmas sales. Last year I picked up some presents and left them on the shelf in the closet of the spare bedroom. I think I had picked up 5 or 6 gifts for various people. I'm always on the lookout for gifty things. My adopted neices are in their mid-twenties and prefer to get small goodies from me (including some cash). I think it lets them still be kids even though they are both sucessful young women. The only problem is having to be sure I have the same amount of presents for each one (usually 8-10), some years it has taken some work since they both have very different tastes (but that makes it more fun for me). I make sure to hit the dollar store about once a month or so to look for another little trinket to add to their collection. I've already picked up about 6 things for each girl. I do probably spend a little more than I should overall but when I'm picking up presents here and there I'm able to spread out my spending and not put a huge dent in my wallet (plus I don't use credit cards). My friends usually get restaurant gift cards so I wait until close to the holidays when the restaurants start their promos and then pick up cards along the way.

Guest's picture
Kristine R.

That is a big, resounding, NO. I went into a store and saw Xmas decorations already up and I couldn't believe it. I need to get a move on!

Guest's picture
GMS

My holiday prep has consisted of budgeting for the holidays that are upcoming. Not only gift giving, but for the extra gas to travel, money to spend of big meals (I've got $300 budgeted for Thanksgiving alone! And there's usually only 4 or 5 of us...8-10 dogs, but only around 5 humans...) This is the ONLY way we'd survive the holidays as we have vowed nothing more on credit cards in order to stay on track with our Sept. 2015 total payoff schedule. :)

Guest's picture
Molly

I have started some crafts and other things! I start super early to save money

Guest's picture
Guest

Not a chance. The holidays are almost three months off, a quarter of a year away. I start on the holidays usually in mid-to-late November.

Guest's picture
Rebecca B. A. R.

I buy gifts all year long for Christmas and birthdays, to save money. I rarely decorate for holidays, and when I do it is very little. I get tired of retail commercializing every holiday, and having things out months in advance for Christmas.

Guest's picture
Happy Love

I recently bought my baby his first toy for Christmas since the toy was on sale for a good price.

Guest's picture
Lynda

no i haven't. it is still kinda warm here in socal so i haven't even begun to think about the holidays!

Guest's picture
Melissa Hansson

Funny timing. My living room sofa is currently covered in bags and boxes. One of my weekend projects is to sort out all of the gifts I've purchased so far & see what's left to do before Christmas!

Guest's picture
Steven Hernandez

Really? It's only September. I don't start till Turkey Day.

Guest's picture
Tabathia B

I haven't started holiday prep yet, but I have started planning for christmas for my kids which is the only holiday that we celebrate

Guest's picture
Carmen

Not a chance. I always end up doing holiday prep at the last minute

Guest's picture
Kristina

I wait til the last minute