Plan ahead for the holiday season with these oh-so-easy tips and ideas for getting ready for Christmas!
Don’t hate me. I promise I’m not putting up my Christmas tree yet or skipping right over Thanksgiving. But what I am doing is trying to plan ahead so that I can actually soak up the holidays with my family this year instead of running around in a chaotic, stressed-out tizzy!
Maybe you have already been on this for months. Maybe the holidays are something that are on your radar all year long, and you’re always on the lookout and preparing for them. If this is you, you are my hero! I often wish my personality was more like this, but alas, it is not.
I kind of tend to be more of a “deal with the problem right in front of me” kind of person, which means that I’m not always the best at thinking ahead. Oops.
For this reason, Christmas seems to sneak up on me every single year. Between keeping up with the boys’ school events and activities, work stuff, family stuff, church stuff, friends stuff and more, it seems like by the middle of December, I always end up in total survival mode, rushing around to wrap gifts, attend events, send cards, decorate, and do alllll the Christmas things.
I end up so being so busy trying to check things off my to-do list, that I don’t take the time to enjoy the season and truly prepare my heart for the things that truly matter.
But not this year!!!
This year I decided to start planning ahead in several different areas so that by the time the holidays roll around, I will be prepared and will be able to enjoy the season instead of just rushing through it.
(Also, enjoy some photos of our house from Christmases past to make this post a little prettier! 🙂 )
If you are like me and tend to wait until you’re in the crux of the chaos to make a plan, consider this your friendly reminder to maybe perhaps start thinking a little bit ahead this year to spare some of your sanity! 😉
Here are a few of the things I’m doing to plan ahead…
5 Simple Things You Can Do to Plan Ahead for the Holiday Season
1. Create a Budget
I should know better by now, but inevitably, the holidays always end up being more expensive than I expect, so this year I’m taking a more proactive approach by creating a budget.
I like to break down my expenses by category, so I’ll have a section for charitable giving, another for decor, one for entertainment and gatherings, and then I split gifting up by type.
(This budgeting printable and the other printables shown in this post are part of my Christmas / Holiday Planner!)
Since we purchase the most gifts for our boys, they each have their own category. Then I categorize other gifting by groups– extended family, helpers (like teachers, bus drivers, mailman, etc.), and friends.
I set a projected amount for each category, so that when I’m purchasing holiday items or gifts, I have a set number I’m shooting to stay under. This will help me hit everything on my list without being surprised when the holiday bills start rolling in!
(If you’re looking for some ways to save some extra cash before the holidays, my friend Jordan at Fun Cheap or Free has a great challenge going on that can help!)
2. Make a Bucket List
It’s no secret that I’m a list maker, and one thing I love so much about lists is that they help me be more intentional. Every holiday season there always seem to be certain traditions we want to uphold, places we want to visit, activities we want to complete, etc., so we’ve started making a bucket list that helps us keep track of it all!
We break down our list into six different areas– acts of kindness, outdoor excursions, crafts and learning, food fun, trips to take, and miscellaneous– and write down a few things we’d like to do for each one. Once we’ve decided on the most important items, we can block off time on the calendar to complete them.
Now one little caveat for the bucket list: as tempting as it is to write down allllllllll the things, I really try not to overload our list because it just adds to the craziness I’m trying to avoid by planning ahead! We try to stick with the things that are most important to us so that we can stay sane in the midst of the busy holiday schedule.
3. Start Compiling Gift Ideas
If you haven’t already, now is a great time to start “making your list and checking it twice”! Having gift ideas in mind for everyone on my list allows me to start keeping an eye out for sales and deals so I can be sure to stay on budget. (See #1!)
Starting my list now also gives me time to think through or find out what my recipients will really need and love, rather than waiting until the last minute and choosing whatever I can order to get here in time.
4. Make a Decor Plan
My most favorite part! Decorating for Christmas is a blast, but it can also be overwhelming and take a lot of time! This year I decided to get a head start by making a plan for each room ahead of time. I decide on my theme/color scheme for the space, write down which items I want to use to decorate, and make a “wish list” of any items I want to purchase to add to our decor.
I then take the time to make a rough sketch of what I envision for the room so that when it’s time to decorate, I can just pull out my bins of decor and put everything where I have planned. (Don’t worry! No one is judging your artistic abilities! Stick people and stick furniture are most definitely allowed!)
5. Make or Order Your Advent Calendar/Countdown to Christmas
Finally, one of our favorite Christmas traditions is to use an advent calendar to count down the days! If you’re planning to buy an Advent Calendar, they are often cheaper if you purchase now rather than waiting until the last minute, so it’s worth it to get a head start.
Or if you prefer to make your Advent Calendar, doing so in advance means one less thing you’ll have to do at the end of November/beginning of December!
If you need some ideas, here are some of the DIY countdowns we’ve done in the past…
So that’s the plan! I’m hoping that by putting in a little bit of planning and work ahead of time, this year’s holiday season will be less stressful and more fun!
All of the planning ideas shown above can, of course, be written out on plain paper, but if you’d like the printables I’ve used to get organized, you can head here for more details or grab them directly by clicking the button below!
What are some of the things you like to do ahead of time to make the holiday season go more smoothly?