Prepare for Christmas Early this year! It seems like the holidays come earlier and earlier every year, don’t they? With so much going on around the holiday season, it makes a parents life so much easier to prepare before hand. After Halloween I really start to get into Christmas mode. I start doing some behind-the-scenes planning in order for the Christmas season to be easier with less stress and hassle for me. It may seem like it’s too early to start planning- but it makes life so much easier! Especially when you have more time and are not rushing around.
Here are some ways that you can get ahead for the holidays.
- Shopping List: Make a list of everyone who you have to shop for (besides the kids). We really have cut down our list in recent years due to our financial situation. Although I still like to get a few small things for neighbors, the mailman and teachers. Make a note next to each name just what you are planning on getting (or making) that person. Make sure you include any Secret Santas and charity gifts or donations as well.
- Kids Christmas List: Usually your kids are the most involved and lengthy present list you have. Start a list for your kids early in the year. I will usually keep an idea of different gift ideas that my kids want throughout the year on my phone. Then I make a list for all the things that I want to get them or what they need. As I shop I will just cross the things out so that I can keep a good idea of the gifts I have and what I still need to get. If you can, get items on sale or clearance and stash them away so you already have a leg up on shopping.
- Christmas Cards: If you send out Holiday cards make a list of who you have to send them to. Order them online ahead of time to save money. Or start making them in advance so you do not have a ton to do at the last minute. Get a box of cards and fill them out as well to include with your gifts for friends and family.
- Elf on the Shelf plan: If you are so
crazylucky to do Elf on the Shelf in your house, make up a rough list of ideas. It is helpful to figure out a plan for each day that little bugger is at your house. This list will help you when you forget at the last moment. It gives you the chance to brainstorm ideas (especially if that elf has been around a few years). It will also help you gather supplies in case you have to get any random items to help the elf. I usually put a star next to some ideas that are quick and easy so I can do them in the morning when I totally forget the night before.
- Find an incognito hiding spot: Especially as your kids get older- they know where you hide all the gifts. Find a spot that you can hide things away from prying eyes and be able to stash your gifts. I have empty totes or boxes in the basement that I fill with gifts. Then I put them with the other storage items so they kids cannot tell what is junk and what is gifts!
- Plan for Black Friday sales: Whether you go out shopping or you do all of your shopping online- the Black Friday ads usually come out pretty early. It it helps to plan ahead so you know what to buy on sale ahead of time instead of paying full price.
- Plan your family Christmas bucket list. We have a lot of different activities our family likes to do. I even write down the little things like decorating the tree, going on a scavenger hunt for lights, baking Christmas cookies etc. That way I have an idea of the items that I need to find or buy. Things like Cookie Cutters, frosting tips, and travel hot cocoa cups. It also helps you figure out how much money you need to set aside. If money is in short supply, plan some free or cheap ideas to bring in the holiday. If you can, plan out your ideas on the calendar as well. That way you have enough time to do all the fun stuff without being frazzled.
- Plan some family movie nights: We do a lot of movie nights in my house! I work on the weekend and we live in New England so the weather isn’t always nice. I will usually do a fun treat with each movie that corresponds to the movie. Movies like the Grinch, Elf, Polar Express and Rudolph are family favorites. Movies can turn into traditions and help the kids get into the Christmas spirit. Most of the time you do need to pick up supplies or make some treats in advance. And oh yeah, make sure you have the movies or they are available to rent!
- Keep a running list of things that you need to buy: I find it helpful to keep in the notes section of my phone so I always have it in me. When I do my family bucket list and movie night ideas, I list the items I need. I then have a general idea of the things that I have to pick up in order to execute these plans. Usually it’s just stuff from the dollar store like Christmas plates and napkins, candy, red and green paper Etc.
- Get your decorations in order: Pull out those buckets from last year and make sure the lights work and the ornaments have hooks. My kids always love those window clings that never last longer than a season so I always go out and get a few of those at the dollar store. Make sure you have extension cords in working order and you have command hooks or whatever you use to hang up your lights.
- Clean up/ Donate: The holidays can mean visitors- and lots of them. Even if you don’t have many visitors- it’s so nice to have a clean and organized home (as much as possible with kids!) Schedule a donation of your used goods too to help free up some space. It is a great lesson in helping others too. Check your local area for places that will pick up your donation. (The Epilepsy foundation is a great one.)
- Get some freezer cooking done: It is so helpful on those crazy nights when you have a recital or are exhausted from working late. Have a few solid freezer meals your kids will actually eat stashed away to pull out and just throw in the crock pot or oven. You can also make freezer muffins and breakfast sandwiches for quick on the go breakfasts. Make cookies and other freezer friendly goodies for last minute parties, gifts or movie nights.
The holidays are full of so many ways to make fun memories with your kids. It is hard to enjoy it if you are always stressed. Start doing some of the items on your list now so you can enjoy these magical times with your kids. You will thank yourself later!