Does holiday planning make your stomach churn?
Do you put if off so you don’t have to deal with the stress?
If so, you’re in the right place
Ever notice how some people glide through the holidays?
They remember everything.
They stay on budget, and they look like they know what they’re doing at every turn.
Then there are the people who never seem to have it together.
They show up late for everything.
They’re overdone, cranky and completely disorganized.
Have you ever thought holiday planning and timelines were for organized people who were way too boring and uptight?
I did too, but guess what?
They’re onto something.
They’ve figured out how to have a happy and easy holiday season, and you can too.
You can take their organized approach and make it fun.
How cool is that?
If you feel like using a holiday timeline or planner would stress you out, I dare you to try this one.
By knowing what to do when the holidays roll around, it reduces stress.
Speaking of stress…
If you want to feel calm instead of stressed this season, get your copy of 7 ways to reduce holiday stress below.
You get practical tips you can start using today to feel calmer and happier about the holidays.
Start your Holiday Planning Early
One of the most powerful lessons you can learn about holiday planning is that starting early saves you so much stress later.
You work in little bits to reduce holiday stress and avoid holiday burnout later.
So what do you do in October?
Set your budget for the holidays.
Did you know that Christmas accounts still exist?
You can transfer money into the account every payday.
And even if it’s only a few dollars every payday, that adds up.
That way, you have a built in budget and know exactly how much you have to spend on holiday expenses.
Want to know what’s better than having your holiday expenses covered in October every year?
Opening your bills in January and owing nothing.
What’s really cool is that you start working on next year right now.
Start thinking about gifts?
Make your gift-giving list.
My husband is the youngest of nine children, so it’s quite a challenge to decide who we give gifts to.
Some years we give family gifts.
Some years we give a family gift card and some years we bake goodies.
Honestly, one of the best gifts we gave was a small loaf of a delicious quick bread for the families to have for breakfast on Christmas morning.
The mixes cost $1 each, and we baked a dozen of them.
Whoever wanted one could take one home, and those that did were thrilled to have Christmas breakfast covered.
When you know your budget, it makes the plan clearer from the beginning.
Also if it doesn’t fit in your budget, don’t go into debt to look good.
No good comes from making life difficult for your family to look good on one day of the year.
Lets talk Christmas cards
If you like getting them, consider sending them if they fit your budget and timeline.
If not, skip it.
I love Christmas cards.
I have a special place to hang them, and they stay there year round.
Whenever I look at the cards, I say a prayer for the people who sent them to me.
If you want to send cards, your holiday timeline helps you decide when to take each step.
You know when to buy, write and mail them, and if you have time to send them at all based on your holiday activities.
You can even buy them pre-printed with your name from Current Catalog.
If this doesn’t bring you joy. let it go.
Sending cards isn’t for everyone.
And that’s ok.
Household items you can accomplish early
Do you host overnight guests?
What if you wash your guest linens and tidy up the guest room now?
Doing this ahead of time saves so much time, energy and stress.
You’ll feel so accomplished if you have a guest room that’s ready days or weeks ahead of schedule, and if you’re worried about someone messing up the bed, put a large blanket or comforter over it to give it an extra layer of protection.
Do you want to clean your carpets?
Late October or early November is a great time to get it done or at least get it scheduled.
Do you have special holiday towels, tablecloths or other linens that need washing before the holidays?
Do it now to alleviate stress later.
Give yourself this gift.
It helps so much.
If you don’t plan any of these things?
You have less to concern yourself with so give yourself a high five.
Shopping in October?!?!
I know Christmas shopping in October sound insane, but think about this.
If you make stockings for the holidays, this is a good time to start purchasing items.
As your children get older, the stockings get more expensive because those dollar store toys don’t work anymore.
When you give your adult children stockings, it’s gives them a chance to relive a small part of their childhood.
And good knows we all need a bit of that.
As far as gift shopping, this is a great time to get holiday bargains.
And when you spread the expenses over a few months, it’s less painful even if you have a Christmas account.
For larger gifts, many stores offers complimentary gift wrapping, which saves time and money, and if you shop early, there’s no waiting.
If you use the free gift-wrapping service, though, make a list of all items you purchase as well as adding gift tags right away so you don’t have to rely on your memory later.
Unwrapping and re-wrapping is not fun (not that this has ever happened to me).
The greatest secret to home wrapping success
If you don’t use the complimentary free gift-wrapping services or pay someone to wrap your gifts, set up a wrapping station.
If setting up a wrapping station is a new concept, you are going to love this gift to yourself.
It makes gift wrapping so much easier.
It keeps you from having to haul all of your wrapping supplies out each time you purchase a gift.
Let’s be honest, the idea of getting all the wrapping paraphernalia every time you go shopping is overwhelming.
It’s why you put things off until the last minute and end up wrapping everything Christmas Eve and staying up later than any sane human being should.
How to set up your wrapping station
This isn’t difficult, and it saves so much time, effort and stress.
Pick a spot.
We use a table in our basement.
Buy a set of scissors, tape, and a pen just for wrapping.
Then you don’t have to search for them every year.
Keep them with your other Christmas items.
Trust me on this one.
It’s a game changer.
Use a container for ribbon, wrapping paper, bags for difficult to wrap gifts, gift tags, and brown wrapping paper if you mail gifts all in the same place so it’s easy to find.
We purchased a bin specifically for wrapping supplies, but a shopping bag or large box would work too.
If you have younger children and you can’t keep your gifts at someone else’s house, put the already wrapped gifts in a black plastic garbage bag and tie it closed.
Kids are rarely interested in garbage bags, so the gifts are hidden and safe.
Bonus tip –use a specific wrapping paper that’s different from all other paper for Santa.
Buy a large roll and use it year after year so your children instantly recognize “Santa paper”.
A special note about baking
October is a great time to start gathering items for holiday baking.
Stores often run sales on butter, flour and sugar in late October and early November.
Check out your local store flyers and stock up.
Stocking up now assures that you have what you need, when you need it.
November timeline tips
In the US, Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November, so holiday planning includes Thanksgiving.
While there are differing views about Thanksgiving, for me, Thanksgiving is about celebrating friends and family.
The beginning of the month is a great time to start purchasing items for holiday baking if you haven’t already.
Thanksgiving weekend is a great time to finish planning your Christmas baking and freeze cookie dough to save time later or spread out holiday baking tasks.
Are you cooking for Thanksgiving?
Do you need recipes?
Several recipes are easy to assemble or make ahead of time and save time and stress on Thanksgiving.
You might even get to watch the Macy’s parade.
Post Thanksgiving weekend
Once Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to dive full force into Christmas.
Here’s where the holiday timeline makes you look like a true holiday hero.
Note – I am not a proponent of shopping on Thanksgiving.
While I understand that several occupations work on Thanksgiving, do we really need any more stuff so badly that we need to shop on a national holiday?
I don’t think so.
If you are a Black Friday shopper, have at it and have fun.
I would rather spend the weekend putting up our tree and decorating, and the holiday timeline help me do that.
What if you start a family tradition of working a puzzle Thanksgiving weekend?
How about addressing cards while watching holiday specials and football?
If you celebrate St. Nick night on December 5th, it’s a great time to put up the stockings and your tree.
If you’re still thinking about sending Christmas cards, this is a good weekend to order photo cards.
Watch for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, but if you don’t order now, think about skipping it and all the stress it could cause later.
Make sure you have postage stamps and purchase your printed cards if you’re not using photo cards.
Early December Holiday Timeline
It’s time to finalize your baking list for the holidays.
If you haven’t purchased your baking supplies, do it now or pare down your list.
By the beginning of December you have approximately three weeks to get your holiday baking done.
If you have the Happiest Holidays Joy Journal, fill out the calendar page in the back with your family obligations so you can see how much time you have to bake and make gifts.
The Happiest Holidays book also has recipes for simple and delicious baking and gift ideas and get on it, quickly.
Check your St. Nick supplies.
Need some stocking ideas?
Mid December Holiday Planning
Here’s where your previous holiday planning makes you shine.
Time to finish your online shopping so your gifts arrive on time, and you have time to wrap them.
Some websites ship up until the last week before Christmas, but the earlier you order, the better.
Finish your menu plan and purchase your non-perishable items.
The Happiest Holidays Joy Journal is invaluable for this.
If this timeline is helpful, please print your own copy here.
Sign up for the Moving Toward Better community below. You will get a free copy of 7 ways to reduce holiday stress and the opportunity to purchase the Happiest Holidays bundle at a deeply discounted price.
The Happiest Holidays book and Joy Journal can help you have your happiest and most peaceful holiday season ever! As always, thanks for being you, have a great day, and this time…Happy Holidays everyone!Like what you see here? Click here for ways to support the Moving Toward Better mission.