5 Insanely Helpful Ways to Get Ready for Christmas Now

With Christmas quickly approaching, my mind is constantly racing with thoughts of everything that needs to be done. My to-do list currently has over 100 things to do on it with more being added by the day. How will I do it all, I wonder?

Am I alone in feeling this way? I don’t think so. I think every busy Mom feels this way, especially in the holiday season. As soon as the calendar turns to November or (gasp), December, our minds start racing.

To help us all approach the Christmas season with joy and less stress, I have compiled some helpful ways to get ready for Christmas right now. It doesn’t matter who you are, your family size or even what time of year it is. If you start by tackling these five specific areas today, your Christmas celebrations will be much smoother.

These lists may seem a little excessive to some, but I have found that the more I plan ahead, the easier things are in the actual moment. Take the time now to think through all these areas and you will have a huge head start on your Christmas preparations. 

Are you ready to simplify your Christmas preparations? Go grab a notepad and let’s get started.

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Christmas Gifts

Let’s start simple. Sit down and write your list of the people for whom you want to buy presents. Now, be realistic.  Take some time to think through your list. Do you really need to buy gifts for everyone on your list? Include everyone you have thought of and decide if you are buying or making a gift for them. Here are some other questions to consider about Christmas gifts.

Questions to Ask:

  • Who do I want to buy Christmas gifts for?
  • Do I really need to buy gifts for everyone on my list? Is there anyone I can cross off, to simplify things?
  • Will I make handmade gifts for anyone?
  • Can I buy the same gift for several people (ie all nieces, all coworkers, all teachers)?
  • Will I buy gift cards for anyone? To where and for how much?
  • What is my budget for gifts?
  • Do I have any Christmas gifts that I have already purchased for anyone?
  • Do I have any Christmas gift ideas for people on my list?
  • When do I want to finish all my Christmas shopping?

Action Steps:

Make a general budget for gifts. You can do this by person or make a general amount. ($50 per child, $20 per sibling, etc) or more. When you have a realistic budget, that keeps you from overspending and regretting it later.

Email / call / text your family and ask for gift ideas. Whether you have started shopping or not, it’s time to start getting ideas. Send out a quick email asking for gift ideas or suggestions. Don’t wait until the second week of December to do this! Do it now because the Christmas sales start earlier every year.

Look through your gift closet and discover what Christmas gifts you have already bought. If you’re like me, you shop year round for good deals that your family would enjoy. Look through the closet where you have stashed all those gifts and rediscover what you already have on hand – and for whom. Maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised that you are already finished shopping for one or two people on your list. If you haven’t started shopping yet, there’s no better time to start than now!

Decide now how to simplify your Christmas shopping. Can you buy (or make) the same gift for all your children’s teachers? Can you buy gift cards to mail to all your siblings who live far away? Can you order gifts for your nieces and nephews on Amazon and ship them directly to their house to save on shipping? Think creatively because there are many ways to simplify your Christmas shopping when you really think about it.

Start shopping for gifts now! I’m a big fan of Amazon shopping and watch the deals closely in the weeks leading up to Christmas. You can sign up for a free 30 day trial of Amazon prime here. If you are not a Prime member, now is a great time to be so you can take advantage of all the great deals!

Christmas Cards

First and foremost, are you sending Christmas cards? Yes or no? If no, feel free to move on to the next item. If you are sending Christmas cards this year, continuing reading.

Questions to Ask:

  • Are you sending Christmas cards, a Christmas letter or both?
  • Are you taking family pictures for the Christmas card or do you have one you can already use?
  • Where will you take your Christmas pictures?
  • Do you need to buy Christmas cards or will you order them online from Shutterfly?
  • Who are you sending Christmas cards to?
  • How many stamps do you need?
  • By what date do you want to have your cards in the mail?

Action Steps to Take:

Write your Christmas list now so you know exactly how many cards to buy. We moved this summer, so even though we sent out Christmas cards to a small list last year, we’ll be sending out more cards this year so everyone knows our new address.

Buy your stamps now. Put it on your list to stop by the post office this week and pick up all the Christmas stamps you will need. While you are there, pick up a priority box or two if you think you might need it. It’s a small thing but you will be glad this is done!

If you are going to have pictures taken, make that appointment as soon as you possibly can. If you are making the cards yourself, order them as soon as you possibly can.

If you are sending a Christmas letter, set a date with your computer to write that letter and get it done. You do not need to have your Christmas cards on hand to get your letter written. The sooner you write your letter, the better you will feel at having it done.

Go through your address book and update addresses now. Send a Facebook message to friends whose address you need. Search online through the white pages if necessary.

Plan a night to address and stuff your Christmas cards. Pick a Christmas movie to watch or some festive Christmas music to listen to, pour yourself a favorite drink, and make an enjoyable evening out of it.

Christmas Parties

This year, our first year in our new house, we will be hosting my husband’s faculty Christmas party, his immediate family for Christmas and his extended family Christmas celebration, too. You better believe I have those dates on our calendar and am already planning for them! Here are some of the questions I have asked about our parties.

Questions to Ask:

  • First and foremost, are you hosting any Christmas parties this year?
  • What Christmas parties will you be attending?
  • Do we have all the party dates that we know on our calendar?
  • If you are hosting, what do you want to serve at the party?
  • Are you preparing all of the food?
  • Are people contributing foods?
  • What baked goods do I want to serve?
  • What drinks will we serve?
  • Do I need to take something to any other Christmas parties?

Action Steps to Take:

Mark any party dates that you know on your calendar. If you are hosting a party, get that scheduled as soon as you are able. I know it is tricky to find dates for everyone but you will feel better once you have a date that works for most people on your calendar.

Now is a great time to create your menus so you don’t have to stress about it the week before the party. This also allows you to watch for sales on ingredients you will need. Make a list of every event and list all the food you will be serving.Print off any recipes you need for these events now and put them in a safe place.

Once you make your menu, tell people what you would like them to bring (a side dish, a dessert, etc).

Now is a good time to get started on some of your Christmas baking and freeze it for the upcoming festivities! On that note, let’s continue on to the next area to think about.

Christmas Baking

Are you a baker like I am? If so, Christmas time means baking cookies! I am known for my buckeyes, so I know I will be making several hundred of these every year. Thankfully, they freeze very well so I can start making them early.

Make a list of cookies you want to bake this Christmas. Now, simplify! Do you really need to bake 8 different kinds of Christmas cookies, or is your family just as happy with 3 different kinds that mean a lot to them? Here are some other things to consider.

Questions to Ask:

  • What Christmas cookies do you want to bake this year?
  • Can you bake any of these cookies ahead of time and freeze them for later?
  • What other Christmas goodies do you want to bake?
  • Will you bake these by yourself, with your kids or with friends?
  • When do you hope to have all of your Christmas baking done?
  • Are you giving any homemade Christmas cookies as gifts?
  • What ingredients (ie flour, sugar, chocolate chips, etc) are on sale now?

Favorite Christmas Recipes:

If you are looking for some new recipes to try, here are some of our family favorite Christmas recipes. Buckeyes are a must-have tradition in our home for sure!

Action Steps to Take:

Gather all your Christmas recipes in one place. Print off the recipes you need online now so you are not searching for them later.

November and December are the perfect time to stock up on baking supplies so plan past Thanksgiving and stock up on all the flour and sugar and chocolate chips you will need for the next couple months. Make a list of all the ingredients you need for your Christmas cookies and stock up on your baking supplies in the next week or two.

Make a baking plan. Do you want to have a massive baking day or do you prefer to bake one treat a week from now until Christmas? Decide which fits your schedule and style better and make your plan.

You can find more of my holiday baking tips here. 

Christmas Decorating

In our family, we go cut our tree the day after Thanksgiving, and put it up sometime in the next week. We enjoy it for all of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany too. We take it down sometime after Epiphany (January 6). Whether you decorate early or wait, now is a great time to plan for your Christmas decorating.

Questions to Ask:

  • Do you buy a real tree or use an artifical one?
  • When will you put up the tree?
  • Do you need to buy new lights?
  • When will you decorate the rest of the house?
  • Is decorating a family affair or an “after the little kids are in bed” activity?
  • Are you putting lights or decorations up outside the house?
  • Do you want to put up all your Christmas decorations or will you leave some things packed this year?

Action Steps to Take:

There aren’t nearly as many action steps to take ahead of time in the area of decorating. The biggest to do? Set a date to decorate. 

If you know you are going to need new lights or other decorations, try to buy them ahead of time. Otherwise, make a decorating plan for your family – simple or elaborate – and pick a date to make it happen. 

Some Final Words about Getting Ready

It’s wonderful to plan ahead but don’t allow yourself to get bogged down in the details or comparisons. Some years are simpler than others and that is totally okay!

Give yourself the gift of planning ahead, and then grace, as you get ready for Christmas.

Enjoy the season and enjoy the preparations, too!

What’s the first area you tackle as you get ready for Christmas? 

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  1. Some really good ideas here! I think we are a lot alike in that I am a list-maker also-I love being able to cross things off my list and to feel a sense of accomplishment as the list gets smaller! Part of my list this year is to see what decorations / ornaments, etc. can find another home. My Christmas collection of “stuff” has gotten way too big – way too many tubs for my poor husband to bring down from the attic!

    1. There is something so satisfying about crossing things off a list? I hope you are making good progress on your Christmas to-do list, Addy!

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