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I love Christmas–but I don’t like the busyness that seems to be a hallmark of the season. A few years ago, I decided to start working on Christmas preparations in October, and I haven’t looked back. Here’s a calendar–a work in progress!–to keep you on track to enjoy your holidays with as little stress as possible this year.
- December 26th-27th
- Make notes.
- What worked for you during the holiday season? What didn’t?
- Set a budget for the following year.
- Make notes.
- Begin saving money for Christmas presents every month so that you avoid charging your entire haul in December. You have a couple of options for saving. For example, you could start a Christmas club account. As another example, you could also buy gift cards each month and use them at the end of the year. As for me, I typically buy discounted gift cards at Raise.com. I’ve never had a problem with the gift cards I’ve received from the site, and the site offers a one-year guarantee.
- Consider taking your Christmas pictures now. Most photographers aren’t doing Christmas photos yet, but after spending hundreds on photos that weren’t what I wanted, I’ve found a $5 selfie stick and my iPhone take better (and cheaper!) Christmas pictures for my family. I simply grab our faux evergreen wreath from the attic, hang it on our red door, and sit on our brick porch steps on a clear evening for 100 or so quick selfies. Then I find the best ones and set them aside for Christmas cards and the year’s Christmas tree ornament. If I need to retake them because they are all bad–maybe my daughter’s showing her grumpy face or I have a bra strap showing–I just retake them the next clear, sunny day.
- Begin making cookies–just freeze the batter! I typically make one or two batches of cookies each week, and I place the extra batter in the freezer with a label. Some good options (I’ll be adding to this list at least weekly):
- Holiday cake mix cookies (from the blog Dear Crissy): These are so rich! The batter freezes well, but to avoid cracks in your M&M’s, I’d advise holding off on adding those to the batter until you’re ready to bake.
- I buy a photo ornament for my family’s Christmas tree each year. A few years ago, I bought one at Photobarn using a Groupon I had found for $5. More recently, I’ve bought ornaments from Shutterfly when Shutterfly offers them for free, paying around $7 for shipping. If you are considering doing something similar, subscribe to Shutterfly’s newsletter now so you’ll be on top of free items and discounts.
- Determine whether you will send Christmas cards this year and, if so, what kind. If you intend to send personalized cards, photo cards, or ornament cards, start looking for discounts (hello, Shutterfly!).
- Make a list of what persons you intend to send a Christmas card to. Locate the addresses for those persons, and create the labels now. I use Avery 5560 labels for these–and for everything, really–because they just make life easier. Find a pretty font, and make some return address labels while you’re at it–print a whole sheet of them and use them all year if you choose!
- Start making freezer meals so that you aren’t so tempted to go out to eat on those busy days in December.