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Last Updated on November 9, 2021 by Diane Hoffmaster
When should you start preparing for Christmas? Yesterday! Seriously.... there are so many things to do, it's never too early to start planning. Get ready for Christmas with this easy November holiday to-do list. From creating a Christmas budget to finding festive holiday outfits for your kids (or pets!), now is the time to start planning.
As soon as Halloween passes us by, Thanksgiving is right around the corner and then all you have to do is blink and Christmas is here. I, for one, am nowhere near ready for it. It always amazes me how quickly we move from summer vacation to the first day of school and then the chaos of the holidays plows us right over.
This year, I am determined to be ready for it! I am making my 'to do' list and Christmas budget early so that when Christmas gets here I can sit back and enjoy it. I want time to enjoy our family traditions, stay healthy, and not have to be stressed out for weeks before the big day.
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10 Things You Should do NOW to Get Ready for Christmas
If you would like to take charge of your holiday chaos, here are a few things you need to get done as quickly as possible!
Set your vacation dates and make boarding reservations for pets
Kennels fill up very quickly during the holiday so getting that done ahead of time ensures that you will have space for Fido when you need to leave. If there is no space, you may find yourself making a long drive with your pup in the car with you.
Grandma won't mind one more guest, right? You also need to make sure that your pet is up to date on their vaccinations or most boarding kennels won't take them in. Invest in a dog calendar and put in dates for boarding as well as vet appointments that can't be missed.
Make a menu and food shopping list
Lots of sales will go on at the grocery store between now and Christmas so make sure you know what you need. Things like butter for Christmas cookies, premade pie crusts for Thanksgiving pies and fresh cranberries can be frozen until you need them.
That way, you save money and don't have to worry about a huge grocery bill right before Christmas day. Stick a magnetic grocery list on your refrigerator so you don't miss anything.
Plan and shop for holiday outfits
Ask your kids what they want to wear (if they are old enough to be given an opinion on the matter!) and plan a few shopping trips. It might take several outings to match your son's tie to your daughter's dress.
Personally, I think we are all going with black, white, red and denim this year. It is getting hard to find things any of the teens want to wear for photos! Don't forget things like Christmas socks, Christmas pajamas, a Christmas outfit for the dog, or whatever other holiday clothing items you may need.
Schedule your picture taking day
These appointments fill up incredibly fast and just showing up on a Saturday morning without an appointment will lead to an incredible amount of stress and (most likely) crying babies. Call the photography place ASAP and schedule a sitting!
Send emails for gift ideas
How many times have you asked your sister what she wants, only to be told 'I don't know'? Send a formal request for ideas and leave them a bit of time to think about it. Leaving it to the last minute only ensures that people are going to receive odd things like remote control vacuums which are really only good for terrorizing cats with.
Start talking to your family about whether you will ALL be buying for each other or maybe you just want to focus on the kids this year. Consider experience gifts instead of more 'stuff'. Get them something practical like a subscription to Blue Apron or a healthy snack subscription box. I'm a big fan of gifts that you can eat and never have clutter up your house.
Set a budget and plan your savings
How much money are you going to spend on each person? Make a list of gift recipients, how much you will be spending, and then do some math. Make sure you have enough saved up so that you don't go into debt.
Open up a separate Christmas account at the bank if that will help you with your budgeting needs. Check out my post on holiday budget tips for more info on keeping your holiday spending under control.
Also, read my ideas about saving money on clothes for teens and sit them down for a frank discussion about technology gifts. Teens have expensive tastes but are old enough to understand the realities of limited finances.
Start making homemade gifts
Homemade gifts add a wonderful personal touch to your holiday gift-giving and will also help you stay on budget. You can try my DIY Pumpkin Pie Sugar Scrub if you really want to impress them! Here are some homemade gift ideas for you if you want to get ready for Christmas by making your own gifts.
- DIY Dog Treat Cookie Jar: Perfect for the pet lover in your life.
- Homemade Rose Milk Bath: For the new mom or stressed-out friend.
- Make your own Sensual Massage Oil: Perfect for the love of your life!
Choose a few charities and causes
It seems like every single organization and group needing money contacts me during the holidays. I would love to help them all but I just don't have an unlimited budget. I make sure that I choose several charitable organizations to support in early fall and then I have to practice saying 'no' to the rest of them.
Oh, I still toss my money in the donation can for Salvation Army or grab a tag from the giving tree at church but people who actually call, mail, or knock on my door looking for money will have to wait until next year once I have made my choices.
Start browsing the clearance isles
I am a huge fan of saving money whenever I can. Clearance aisles are great for kids' toys, stocking stuffers, or an assortment of other holiday needs. Every time you are in a store for the next 2 months just take a stroll down the clearance aisle and see what you find.
Don't forget to check out online deals, too. Follow your favorite companies on social media and sign up for newsletters. They will often post sale info that you might otherwise miss. I find that the Amazon Deal of the Day is a good place to start if you want to get ready for Christmas gift-giving without going broke.
Plan for holiday cards NOW
I am horrible about holiday cards and I usually end up mailing them on Christmas Eve. Yes, that means my Christmas cards are always late. If they make it there by New Years I consider myself successful. In fact, I usually go with a generic "Happy Holiday" card so that if it arrives after Christmas it is technically not 'late'.
Plan ahead and get ready for Christmas now. You will have a lot less stress in your life, which is always a good thing. Stay organized and make healthy choices this holiday season. You will enjoy the season a lot more and your family will enjoy the reduction in your stress levels!
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She has two college aged kids, one husband and more pets than she will admit to. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire but left her career in science to become a stay at home mom. Years of playing with LEGO and coloring with crayons had her craving a more grown up purpose to her life and she began blogging and freelance writing full time. You can learn more about her HERE.