Christmas Prep: Tips & Tricks for Christmas
It may seem strange to start Christmas Prep so early, but honestly, it can make life so much easier if we work on it all year long!
Christmas is without a doubt my favorite holiday. From decorating to cooking to spending extra time with family and friends, there is so much to love about the whole thing. Unfortunately, sometimes we forget why we celebrate and let the commercialism of it all take over. That’s when we get really stressed!
If we work on everything ahead of time—even by a little bit—it can take our stress levels down and give us the chance to really enjoy the holiday season. That’s where Christmas Prep comes in!
Here are some of my best tips and tricks for Christmas, as well as a printable list that can help you to start prepping right away!
1. Why Do You Celebrate Christmas?
The very first thing we need to know before we start is why are we are all celebrating. While most know that Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of the Messiah and the true gift that God gave us all, there are things about the holiday that have special meaning for different people. So what is your “why” for celebrating? Is it the gift giving…the time with family…the decorating? Figuring out what is most important to you about Christmas makes it so much easier to decide where to spend your time, money, and energy.
2. What Are the 5 Most Important Things For You and Your Loved Ones To Do During the Christmas season?
Again, you don’t want to be wasting all your energy (or your time and money) doing things you absolutely don’t enjoy. It’s great to do things that others like, but don’t forget to choose at least one thing that makes you super happy as well! Get ideas together for the things you and yours “must do” during Christmas and start planning now to make it as stress-free as possible.
My favorite things about Christmas are sharing meals with people I love, decorating the house, listening to Christmas music, watching White Christmas, and coming up with fun gift ideas. Your favorite things may be totally different than mine and that’s perfectly alright. Just decide what you and your family love most and put those at the top of the list. For more ideas, check out How To Be Christmas Crazy.
3. What Are the Top 5 Things You Absolutely Do NOT Want To Do During This Christmas Season?
Make a list of things you love and things you don’t and then prioritize them. If gift shopping stresses you out, cut back or give gift cards. If you love to throw parties, but hate to cook, throw a potluck or buy premade food! It’s okay to not enjoy everything about the holiday and it’s okay to say “no” to things you really don’t enjoy. (Get help with your holiday entertaining… Christmas Party Planning 101.)
4. What’s On Your Christmas Bucket List?
Now that you know what you want to do and what you definitely don’t want to do, it’s time to fill out a bucket list. A bucket list can be as simple as a page from your notebook or a printable (I’ve got you covered!) that you can display for everyone to see. The great thing about a Bucket List is that you don’t have to finish everything on it. Anything left can be saved for “later.”
5. Who Will You Give Gifts To and What Will You Give Them?
When my children were smaller, I HAD to start shopping early. Though I was rarely done any sooner than the week before Christmas, I did have a huge portion of it finished. With three children and a budget, there was not a lot of waiting until the last minute! Making a Christmas Gift List with my list of recipients and what gifts I want to give them/already have for them has saved me a lot of stress through the years.
Knowing what you want to give as a gift is important even if you decide to do a totally homemade Christmas. Because of job loss and my illness, money has been tight for us for the last few years, so I have done more gift baskets, gift cards, and homemade gifts. While I love to make crafts for my home decor, it’s often time consuming. Homemade gifts and decorations are amazing, but make sure to give yourself plenty of time to create them!
Tip #1: Keep a running list of sizes, favorite colors, hobbies, and wish list items for your children, spouse, parents, or whoever you shop for most often. Ask everyone to fill out a gift wish list.
Tip #2: Hide gifts in plain sight! We have a room with several storage totes in it, so they never knew that a couple of those were used to store their gifts through the years! I’ve also hidden gifts in my dresser drawers, in a basket in my closet, or even under the stack of extra blankets that rarely got used!!
Tip #3: Use what you have. Use jars, containers, boxes, and baskets you already own as opposed to buying new boxes and bags. (Cut up old gift bags to wrap smaller gifts, use jars for food gifts, and fill baskets with snacks and a couple of games for a great family fun night gift!)
6. What’s On the Menu?
Will you be hosting a party or Christmas dinner? Will you be delivering food to friends, taking sides or desserts to other parties, or making special food gifts for anyone? Now is the time to make plans for all of that. Pick your menus/recipes, go through your food storage and make a list of everything you need, and then start shopping. Yes…shop now! Buy ingredients as you find them on sale and put them away for later. It feels a whole lot less painful to spend $10 or $20 extra during your regular grocery trips leading up to the Holiday Season than it does to spend hundreds all at once!
7. When and How Will You Decorate?
It’s no secret to anyone who has ever known me that I absolutely adore decorating for Christmas! I want to do the entire house (although I have never made it that far) and I would love to leave it up all year round (okay, I’ve come close to that one…haha)! Me personally, I like to change things up, but it’s okay if that’s not for you. It is very time consuming, especially if you are like me and make some of your own decor.
Here are my top tips for decorating your home for Christmas:
- Use what you have. I’ve been known to repaint or deconstruct a decoration in order to make something else. You can use your imagination, but honestly, there are sooo many ideas on Pinterest that you don’t even have to imagine much!
- Decide on a theme. There are some spaces in our home that get specific decorations and other rooms that have an ever-changing theme. The Hoosier cabinet in my hallway is generally the first place that gets decorated and the theme changes every year. (Get some inspiration from these posts…Take a Peek at the Hallway and Christmas in July .)
- Start early! I generally start decorating in late October/early November depending on what is going on in our lives. We don’t always host Thanksgiving dinner here so it doesn’t matter if we decorate inside early, but I do like to wait and finish the porch the weekend after Thanksgiving.
- Ask for help. Other than the part of the tree the kids used to decorate, I did the decorating all by myself and as much as I loved the result, it was exhausting. After my health issues, I finally had to start asking for help. Last year, my husband, daughter, and my youngest son helped me clean and decorate the porch. It took less than two hours to do everything that used to take me over half a day by myself. It was fabulous!! They don’t know that they will be helping me every year from now on!
8. How Will You Pay For It All?
Knowing who you are buying for and what you want to give them goes a long way toward keeping your gift budget in check. Christmas doesn’t have to be the most expensive time of year, but for a lot of us, we do more and spend more during the Christmas season than we do at any other time except for maybe summer vacation.
That’s why Christmas prep is so important. It helps you figure out how you’re going to afford all this celebrating! Setting up a budget, earning extra income, setting up a savings plan, giving homemade gifts, giving family gifts (one gift for the whole family instead of individual gifts), cutting back on gift giving, having a potluck instead of providing all of the food for celebrations, and buying a $20-$25 gift card every time you get paid throughout the year and putting it toward Christmas spending are a few suggestions to help you afford the kind of celebration you want to have.
9. What Is Your Favorite Part of the Christmas Season and How Can You Do More of That?
Now that you know your why and your how, make a list of your absolute favorite parts of the Christmas Season and add them to your Christmas prep notes. Not the parts that are favorites for your family and friends…the parts that are your personal favorites. What is it about Christmas that you absolutely love? What appeals to you the most? Now, decide how you can do more of that! Decorating, cooking, singing Christmas carols, visiting loved ones, going to church…make what you love about Christmas a priority and make some happy memories!
10. What Other Information Do You Need to Help With Your Christmas Preparations?
Hopefully, you now have plenty of information to help with your Christmas planning and prepping. If you have Pinterest, follow my Christmas boards for more inspiration and sign up for the That One Mom email list to keep up with all the new posts as they come out! Print out this great Christmas Prep questionnaire and use it to help you plan your own perfect holiday!