Hey guys! So Halloween has passed, and Thanksgiving is around the corner. It’s time to start preparing for the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas!! I have to admit that my two favorite holidays of the year are Halloween and Christmas. In my family, they are intertwined. We use our Halloween family pictures as our Christmas card pictures and every year we get the most original and fun cards imaginable. Our Christmas planning actually starts in October! We plan our family costumes, our greeting for our Christmas cards, take our pictures and then start working on holiday cards. Since we do start our holiday planning well in advance of the season, I thought I share with you how our family prepares for it.
4 Parts to being prepared for Christmas:
1. Start planning your Holiday Card list
I start in mid-October. Of course, we do a big production, but you don’t have to do that. You should start to write down your list so you know how many cards you will need to mail or give out in person. Make sure you have updated addresses for everyone you plan to mail a card to. Since most stores put Christmas items out by Halloween, you will get a good selection if you start early. If you are ordering online, you want to give yourself plenty of time for them to arrive. Start addressing cards after Thanksgiving and mail them out the first week of December.
2. Plan your gift list
- Making the list – I start to plan my list as early as Columbus Day in October. I suggest you start your list no later than right after Thanksgiving! Start by listing everyone you’ll need to get a gift for (if you plan this early this will give you plenty of time to think about what each person would like). Since I start my list in October, I pick up things as soon as I see them (and catch Columbus Day sales) rather than having to do last minute shopping. To make things easier for you, you might want to ask the people on your list if they have wish lists. I encourage my family to make a wishlist on Amazon or other sites that offer wishlist and then share the list with me. In this way, I know I’m getting something that they already have selected but still be able to surprise them because they do not know what I’m going to purchase from their lists.
- Make a budget- Set an estimate of how much you want to spend on gifts. This will help you not to overspend during the holidays. Try to keep your list with you at all times. To help me carry my list with me, I add it to my cellphone. As I buy gifts, I cross the names off and deduct what I spent from my overall budget so I can see how much money I have left to spend.
- Shopping- Right after Thanksgiving you should begin your online shopping. Black Friday and Cyber Mondays have deals that you can take advantage of. Remember to use sites like Ebates which give you cash back for you online purchases (as a matter of fact they also give you cash back on in store purchases as well). This year so far I have made around $40 in Ebates (from the months of Sept and October)! If you like to shop in person be prepared for crowds. If at all possible go shopping on weekdays. **Wrap your gifts as soon as you purchase them. Don’t pile up gifts and begin a wrapping marathon the night before Christmas.
- Decorations – I start to put up Christmas decorations (along with the Thanksgiving decorations that are already up) a week before Thanksgiving. I purchased a pre-lit tree that I bring out every year. Decorations can get expensive; often I will reuse decorations from years before. I also buy the following year’s decorations after the season has passed when most stores have Christmas decorations on clearance. Get the entire family involved and make it a family activity!
- Festive music – I love Christmas music. What better way to get into the full swing of things then by putting together a Christmas playlist. With all the classics like “All I Want for Christmas is You,” “White Christmas” and my personal favorite (I even play this song year around) “Santa Baby” by Ertha Kit to mention a few, you will be sure to feel the joy of the season!
- Other ways to set the mood – We watch Christmas movies like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and A Christmas Story (the kids always get a good kick). I also buy wax melts for my wax warmer that remind me of the season. Try scents like pine, cinnamon and apple cider. Also, consider activities such as building a gingerbread house (you can make it from scratch or buy a kit). Bake Christmas cookies and give out to friends, family co-workers, and even teachers!
4. Plan events around Christmas
This might consist of organizing a family party or family dinner. Make sure to let your guest know well in advance your plans and send out your invites. If you like to travel during the holidays, make sure to book at least 3 to 6 months in advance. If you are looking to infuse your workplace with the spirit of Christmas, consider doing a gift exchange (secret Santa). We also plan activities with our children. We usually get Christmas pictures taken at Macy’s. Last year we went to a mall and did a Christmas experience type of event that had a virtual ride and at the end the kids got to take pictures with Santa. Lastly and depending on your faith find your local place of worship and be sure to go early as some churches may fill up due to the Christmas festivities.
Thanks for reading Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas from my family to yours!