Get Ready for Christmas: 7 Things You Should Do Today
Take your current schedule and imagine adding Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, and holiday travel all at once. I suspect you'll thank yourself come mid-December if you use the extra time you have now to get ready for Christmas. (See also: Early Holiday Shopping: Why I Finish by Thanksgiving)
1. Set and Fund Your Christmas Budget
Every year there is a segment of the population that simply charges their gifts on their credit cards and then spends the rest of the next year trying to get caught up on their payments. Before you do any Christmas shopping, you need to determine how much you can afford. From there, decide who to include and exclude from your list. To make it easy, try setting a per-person budget. For example, you'll buy $75 worth of gifts for each kid and $35 for each niece or nephew. You're much less likely to overspend if you've predetermined how much you'll spend on each person on your list. Don't forget to check it twice.
2. Start Making Homemade Gifts
Homemade and personalized Christmas gifts are the most memorable gifts you can give. Why? Because the recipient knows that you've invested a significant amount of your time. I often think about doing homemade gifts, but realize I don't have the time to complete a project. By brainstorming homemade ideas now, you're more likely to have the time necessary to complete the project.
3. If You Do Christmas Lists, Ask People to Get You Their Lists
My family does lists, and my wife's family does not. If you do ask people for Christmas lists, go ahead and contact them now. Inevitably, there is going to be one person who takes their time getting a list to you. That's less likely to be frustrating if you have an early start.
4. Start Watching for Sale Items
If you don't subscribe to the Sunday paper, you might want to pick one up over the next few months. Set aside 10 minutes every Sunday to glance through the ads and coupons. If you find an item on your list, snag it while it's on sale. Otherwise, what's probably going to happen is that you'll run to the store on the 24th and pay too much on a gift you don't want to buy.
Our personal goal is to have all our Christmas shopping done by the last day of November. That way we don't have to fight against the holiday crowds.
5. Get Started on Your Christmas Cards
Imagine how amazing it would feel if all your Christmas cards were ready to send by Thanksgiving — wouldn't that be a relief? Go ahead and set a target goal of when you'd like to finish all your cards. Then create some type of plan to be done by that date. You could either mark off a morning on your calendar or do a little bit at a time.
6. Fill Up the Freezer
There are a lot of great meals that you can freeze ahead of time so you have food available when the holiday season gets really busy. One way to fill the freezer is to double or triple some of your recipes you'll be preparing in the next month. Serve a single portion, and freeze the extra portion. Another option is to block out a full cooking day where you make as many meals as possible and freeze them for the busy holiday season.
7. Practice Saying 'No,' and Offer an Alternative When Necessary
Most people I know spend their Christmas season busy doing things they didn't want to do in the first place. Start today by saying no to commitments you know will cause you stress over the holidays.
If saying no is hard, then offer an alternative. I won't be able to ____, but it would work if I could ____ instead.
With an early start, you can survive the hectic holiday rush. I'm sure that in December you won't regret any of the time you've spent while the pace of life is comparatively slower.