How to prepare for Christmas early so that you can sit back & enjoy the holiday season.
Preparing for Christmas early is the best thing you can do for yourself. Instead of spending the days leading up to Christmas running around in a tizzy trying to get everything ready, prepared, and checked off your Christmas to do list, you’ll have everything done prior to Christmas so you can actually sit back, relax, and soak up the holiday season with your family. (Without a long list of to-dos nagging at you.)
Here is a list of things you should do to prepare for Christmas in November.
After writing the post 11 Ways to Prepare for Christmas in October, I realized I wasn’t the only one who felt a little chaotic with the Christmas season approaching. So, I decided to do a follow-up to help you (and myself) get even more prepared for Christmas in November.
(Rather than leaving things for last minute and not getting to enjoy the holiday season with your family because you’re too busy running around like a turkey with no head trying to do allthethings.
Spoiler: you can’t do all the things and you’re just going to exhaust yourself. Do yourself a favor and do some early Christmas prepping.)
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The days are cold, the nights are colder, and everything is covered in a soft white layer of snow (I love the holiday season). Right now, I’m soaking up every moment of these beautiful snowflakes and air so cold it’ll hurt your face.
But, our winter seems to drag on forever, so I know in just a few short weeks I’ll be sick and tired of the cold and wishing for summer. However, I’m going to try and hold on to this excitement for winter at least until Christmas is past.
Whatever the weather is like for you during your Christmas season, it doesn’t change the fact that people. get. busy. (And moody, but that’s just an unfortunate side-effect of being so busy, usually.)
Life seems to wind up the wheel and let loose when December rolls around, so taking just a bit of time to prepare for your Christmas in the months leading up to December is a clever idea. (You might be rolling your eyes right now thinking it’s too early… but it’s okay, you can thank me later for pushing you to get this all done now.)
With everything from trying to think of what to buy for your loved ones, to orchestrating family to look decent enough for photos for the Christmas cards (we won’t talk about the globs of food, toys, and dishes that scatter the house behind your curtain back-drop. It’s okay, no one will be able to tell in the pictures), to planning meals and finding time to decorate, life gets busy.
Here’s how you can start your Christmas preparations early this year…
So, since I know you’re busy, I’ll stop my chatting and get on to the tips – here are the best ways that you can prepare for Christmas early:
How to prepare for Christmas early…
1. Figure out a Christmas budget
If you haven’t already, setting a Christmas budget is VITAL (and there’s no better time to do it than right now). A holiday budget will show you exactly how much money you can spend on all things Christmas without going into debt – because celebrating the new year by having a dozen credit card bills show up with no funds to pay them with isn’t very appealing.
My husband and I use the everydollar budgeting app to track our budget so we know exactly how much we can spend on gifts, decorations, food, and everything else.
More ways to save money on Christmas:
How to do Christmas on a Budget in 14 Painless Steps
How to do Christmas Cheap (without being cheap)
How to Christmas Shop on a Budget + Still Give Great Gifts
2. Buy ingredients
Now that you’ve made a Christmas budget and you know how much money you have to spend on all the Christmas meals and baking you will be doing, it’s time to go out and pre-buy the ingredients you’ll need for all that Christmas baking.
Be sure you don’t buy perishable ingredients if you’re not starting your Christmas baking just yet. For now, just buy the non-perishable goods. If you plan on starting your baking already (and storing the baked goods in the freezer to keep them fresh until Christmas), you can go ahead and buy all the ingredients you’ll need.
3. Premake Christmas cookies
If you like to give Christmas cookies to the neighbors or you host a lot of guests around the holidays, premaking the cookies and squares is a good way to save time closer to the holidays.
Before you begin baking you will have to organize your freezer to make room for everything you bake. (Freezing the baking will keep it tasting fresh for around 3 months. Try not to keep it in there too much longer than that.)
You can either make and bake all your Christmas baking, or you can make the dough and freeze it, then pull it out of the freezer and bake it later.
Be sure you freeze everything in air-tight containers (this will keep them fresh). These are the ONLY bags I will freeze my baking in (I find they keep the baking tasting the freshest).
Bonus tip: If you freeze raw cookie dough, write the temperature and time that the cookies will need in the oven on the freezer bag or container that they are in to save you from having to rummage through your cookbook to find the recipe again.
4. Purchase Christmas gifts
You’ve got your Christmas budget, so now it’s time to go out and get some (if not all) of your Christmas shopping done. Make sure you make your Christmas budget BEFORE you go shopping. (Don’t forget about any secret Santa gifts you need to buy, too.)
If you find you overspend when shopping for gifts in-store (and you definitely don’t want to go over your Christmas budget. This could be your very first debt-free Christmas!), you can buy gifts online through Amazon (you can get free shipping with Amazon Prime, which you can try for free for 30 days here), or Rakuten (you can click here to make a free account and get a $10 cash bonus just for signing up).
5. Order Christmas cards
If you like to send out Christmas cards, you’ll want to get those ordered right away, if you haven’t already done so. (This way you can get them packed and sent out in time for Christmas.)
6. Prep the guest bedroom
If you’re going to be hosting people during the Christmas season, you’ll want to take some time to wash the guest bed sheets and pillowcases (and possibly the pillows too, here’s how you can find out if it’s time). You can also clean the guest bathroom, restock the toilet paper (I like the idea of filling this thing with TP and putting it on the top of the toilet to ensure your guests don’t have an awkward situation of running out of toilet paper).
7. Fill out Christmas cards
Even if you don’t plan on sending out your Christmas cards until December (wondering, “when should I send out my Christmas cards?” it’s recommended to send Christmas cards 2 – 3 weeks before Christmas day, or sometime in the first full week of December), it’s a good idea to get the pre-filled, stuffed into the envelope, and ready to go. (Just make sure you store them somewhere safe until they get sent out.)
8. Find the Christmas decorations
Whether you plan on decorating your house the first week of November, or you prefer to hold off until just a week or two before Christmas, it’s a good idea to find those Christmas decorations (and dust them off) so they’re ready to go when the urge to start decorating hits you. (It may be a good idea to throw your stockings in the washing machine before hanging them up, too.)
Bonus tip: Live Christmas trees will live nicely in your house for approximately 4 weeks, so you might want to hold off on putting up a live Christmas tree until end of November/early December.
9. Wrap Christmas gifts
As soon as you start purchasing Christmas gifts, bring them home and wrap them right away.
This way you won’t be caught a day before Christmas with a mountain of gifts to wrap. (Be sure you label each gift so you remember which ones are which.)
10. Make, or buy, an advent calendar
If you’re feeling crafty you can learn how to make your own homemade advent calendar here. If you’re not feeling so crafty, buying an advent calendar works just as well – because nothing works to get you in a good old fashioned Christmassy mood quite like watching the days count down.
11. Watch for sales on stocking stuffers
If your family does stockings, you know that buying small knick-knack-y things to stuff those stockings with can add up quickly.
So, to help you stay within your Christmas budget, you’ll want to watch for sales on items well in advance (there’s nothing quite as awful as facing crowds of people on Christmas Eve trying to find those last-minute stocking stuffers, never mind the jacked up prices of last-minute shopping).
12. Scrub your house
At the end of November is the perfect time to deep clean your house one last time before the throng of Christmas guests starts showing up.
13. Break out the Christmas movies
(Did you really think this entire list was filled with things that weren’t any fun?)
It’s time. Give yourself permission to sit down in the evening, cuddle up in your favorite cozy blanket with some hot chocolate and watch that one movie that ALWAYS puts you in a Christmassy mood. Everyone has at least one movie that puts them in a Christmas mood. This one’s mine. What’s yours?
14. Make homemade gifts
If you have some gifts that you plan on making yourself, it’s a good idea to get started on them earlier than you planned to (because we all know that things don’t always go as planned with DIY). If you originally thought you would need a week to get a project done, give yourself two weeks, just to be on the safe side.
15. Plan appetizers
If you will be going to any potlucks or hosting guests at your house, it’s a good idea to pre-plan the appetizers and meals you will be needing. (And, when you go out to buy all your baking ingredients, you can buy the non-perishable ingredients you need for these appetizers, too.)
Remember that gift budget you made here? Don’t forget to stick to it.
17. Make a Christmas playlist
This one of those behind-the-scenes things that many people forget to do. It’s always nice to have Christmas music playing in the background, especially when you have visitors over close to Christmas.
Find your very favorite Christmas CDs (this is my personal favorite. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas without it), or make a list of your favorite Christmas songs on Youtube and create an album.
18. Make a new family tradition
One of my very favorite parts of Christmas is the Christmas traditions, and I love creating new traditions for my little family to do time and time again over the years.
What are some of your favorite family traditions? Were they passed down over the years, or are they new traditions you’ve just started?