Have you ever found yourself stressed, sleep-deprived, and straight up excited for Christmas to be over? Those negative-grinchy feelings aren’t evidence of the need for an Ebenezer Scrooge style transformation. No, merely a failure to adequately prepare for the festive time to come. What if I told you that you can prevent Grinch-mom from staying up till 1am on Christmas Eve and allow yourself to actually enjoy the ENTIRE Christmas season? Read through 9 ways to get ready for Christmas in November that can save your family’s Christmas. The time to start working through those strategies is now!
I know, I know. We’re supposed to be thinking about fall, Thanksgiving activities, and hopefully arranging our holiday travel. You just finished a bunch of the activities in my previous post about must do Family Fun Activities this Fall. However, how many of us moms will find ourselves stressed after we get home from our day after Thanksgiving shopping only to realize that we have less than 30 days to get in the Christmas spirit, buy all the gifts, plan all the festive activities, and prep for the big day. Yeah, I’ve been there – too many times!
We don’t have to turn into the over-tired, irritable, Grinch-Mom this year!
Now, I’m not one to publicly play Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. And, as much as it makes me smile, I do believe that Costco puts out their Christmas displays too early. I mean come on, can we please at least end summer first?
However, in November, we look at a little bit of calendar calmness. Or as calm as it will ever get as moms. Now is the time to start taking steps to ensure that peace is in fact on earth or at least in our households as we navigate through the most wonderful time of the year and prepare for Christmas.
So, what kind of Christmas stuff should we be thinking about before Thanksgiving? Well, here are my 9, under the radar, must do Christmas prep strategies. By taking care of these 9 major Christmas tips prior to Thanksgiving, you can significantly lower your stress and make room for those precious moments with family while making memories that will last a lifetime.
1) Getting ready for Christmas by starting shopping now (or earlier)
Create a plan for those Christmas presents
This is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. I mean who doesn’t love giving their family and friends physical reminders of how loved they are? Shopping for the perfect item or making the cutest homemade craft for family and friends is fun. However, when things get down to the wire, gift-giving can get down right stressful. That’s why I’ve started making my own personal Christmas shopping deadline the day after Thanksgiving. I try my best to plan ahead so that I either have in hand or have a plan for everyone’s gift prior to Thanksgiving. This sets a nice deadline and allows me to plan for deals in the months leading up to November.
Christmas prep takes strategy!
As I prepare for Christmas, I keep a hidden note in my phone with all of my people to give to. Throughout the year, I will update it when I hear that loved one mention how badly they want (fill in the blank). I can’t count how many times I stressed in the days leading up to Christmas. I’ve wracked my brain for that one thing that so-and-so mentioned once three months ago. Since I’ve started this instant note taking habit, I have been able to feel confident when getting gifts for Christmas and enjoy seeing that bright smile on my loved ones face when they realize that I remembered.
If I’m unable to catch on to those subtle or not so subtle hints throughout the year, I’m a huge fan of browsing Pinterest or Amazon for gift ideas. There are so many ideas that can provide inspiration for even better ideas suited perfectly for your loved one. Regardless of how it all comes together, the big key is to have it come together early. That way the month of December can be fun and enjoyable and the gift of giving doesn’t have to feel like a chore!
This one actually happens all throughout the year for me. The biggest reason that I have for thinking about and gathering stocking stuffers year round is that it allows me to find meaningful and typically funny gifts that are actually useful or wanted.
One of my family traditions is for each family member to contribute an item or two to every person’s stocking. Then, on Christmas Eve each stocking is bulging with fun little knickknacks and treats. We also all have coordinating personalized handmade stockings. I shop when I’m at local craft fairs or wandering through the Fireworks store. When I find something that reminds me of someone, I pick it up and stash it for December. This, paired with my gifting strategy, alleviates the mad rush of Christmas shopping in the last weekend of Christmas. It also ensures that everyone gets a meaningful, thoughtful little gift in their stocking.
Another bonus Christmas tip: have one landing place for all of these little gifts that you have picked up. There were definitely a couple of years that I found what should have been stocking stuffers in March as I cleaned out or organized my closet. After doing that a couple of years in a row, I now have a specific shelf in my hallway closet where I store the gifts that are gathered throughout the year. And, when Christmas gets closer, I have one organized spot to go to when it’s time to start wrapping.
2) Preparing for Christmas by Planning in Advance
Create a to-do list of holiday traditions
This doesn’t have to be a long list, but it does have to be a meaningful list. What do you and your family cherish the most about the Christmas season? Is it taking a drive through some incredibly set up Christmas house displays? Or, baking the most extravagant gingerbread house? Do you enjoy cuddling up on the couch and watching Christmas movies? Whatever it may be, as a family, start gathering your list of must do Christmas activities. The sooner you start, the more hype and excitement you can build for the activity. Thus, the better chance you have at going through the Christmas season while having stress free fun! I would recommend probing each family member for their favorite traditions and ensuring that each has representation on this list. Be sure to check out my Top 20 Christmas Traditions for some must-do family activities in the Pacific Northwest (and beyond) this year.
Draft a calendar
Now, I don’t mean to get ready for Christmas by calendaring everything that you want to do in pen. Unless you can commit to such planning, in which case, go you! What I mean is, once you’ve created your to do list of holiday traditions, think through the approximate time that you may want with that activity and the best dates for it. Are there activities that are best suited for early December? Late December? Can it be done after Christmas?
Considering the timing of each of your must do activities before all of the chaos ensues ensures that the most cherished memories are made. This also saves some of the headache of decisions and ensures that your holiday season is maximized to the fullest.
Here’s how to strategize for the Christmas season…
As an example, I know that my family very much prioritizes putting up the Christmas tree, decorating the house, and starting the Christmas season off with a bang. So, I always make sure that we keep our Thanksgiving weekend cleared for the array of holiday traditions that are typically planned during that weekend.
Generally, our Thanksgiving weekend would consist of the day after Thanksgiving shopping and indoor Christmas decorations on that Friday. Saturday is typically when we bake the first round of Christmas cookies or make our holiday season mix. On Sunday, we’ll usually enjoy a cup of coffee or cocoa and watch the first Christmas movie of the year. As a kid, I always knew that the weekend of Thanksgiving was a huge Christmas kick-off event in our family. I always looked forward to it. I look forward to creating those same wonderful memories with my children and can eventually share them with my own grandchildren just like my parents do with my kids.
3) Prep What You Can for Christmas Early
Set a Christmas gift budget
Okay. This Christmas strategy probably should have started sooner, but really there’s never a better time like the present. This is a tip that I learned through my time in a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course. Plan ahead! What is the best way to avoid utilizing the credit card to buy gifts that you don’t currently have the money for? Have the money already. My family actually has a Christmas savings column on our monthly budget starting in January. This guarantees that when October, November, or if I’ve really procrastinated, December rolls around, I’ll have the definite amount of money that I am willing to spend on items and experiences throughout the Christmas season.
Print and write out Christmas cards
If you do Christmas greeting cards, getting those done before the Christmas rush is also a big way to cut down on stress and increase the amount of family time or sleep that you get throughout the holiday season. I try to take advantage of a free holiday card giveaway that Shutterfly typically offers in October. Their quality is nice and there are a variety of classy photo card designs. However, if I miss it, like I did this year, Costco is a great way to save as well. The key with this one is to prep early!
Sew those matching family pajamas
As quirky as it may be, I make my family get the matching pajamas every Christmas and we LOVE it! The first couple of years of marriage, my husband and I just bought matching pajamas from the store usually on the day after Thanksgiving sales. That still turned out to be rather pricy when I took into account the two of us and then our daughter as well.
So, this year in my Christmas prep, I finally decided to try a more thrifty route. I capitalized on the Joann’s fall flannel sale and got four yards of cute Christmas patterned flannel for a little over $10. I found diy pajama instructions online that did not need a pattern and will sew these together. Now, I already own a sewing machine that I got second hand from my mom, so if you already have that resource or are considering learning to sew, it can save so much money in the long run and make for adorable Christmas morning pictures. Don’t worry if you missed the fall flannel sale at Joanns Fabrics. Downloading the Joann’s app will offer frequent 40-60% coupons on a single cut of fabric. Since the idea is to match, this deal offers great savings as well.
Declutter the house
Planning to host a big event or two? Want to invite some friends over for a cozy Christmas movie and cookies? Relatives visiting from out of town? Well, now is a wonderful time to purge any unnecessary clutter to prepare for your guests. I used to focus on massive organization days and decluttering in the weeks leading up to the New Year. It was my way of thinking that I could start fresh. The reality is that not a whole lot happens in January, so why not have a nice, clutter free, fresh space to share with others in December. Not only does it set the stage for amazing family and friend gatherings, but it also gives the best chance to remain stress free when living spaces are free of tripping hazards and have plenty of opportunities for storing new items that Santa brings.
This can be a family activity!
Speaking of which, this is also a great activity to do with the kids! Planning on helping them write letters to Santa? Well, helping them go through their toy bins, clothes drawers, and any other area that could be stuffed with all sorts of surprises is a great way to teach organization, prep space for whatever Santa drops off, and maintain mom’s sanity in the coming year. Plus, the outgrown toys and clothes can then be donated to offer good will to others as well. And, it teaches great organization and life habits.
In the past, I’ve made it my personal goal to work through a room an evening or a room a week depending on the severity of clutter or the size of the room. Doing this exercise annually can help prevent the constant build up of clutter overtime and make for an organized and purposeful household. There’s no point in storing what you don’t need, right?
Set up the Outdoor light display
Okay, this is a bit of a stretch, but hear me out here. First off, if you don’t put up outdoor holiday displays, I highly recommend considering trying it out. The brightness and cheer of outdoor lights bring so much joy to such a dark December world. And, children love it! It really doesn’t have to be expensive nor does it have to take a lot of time, energy, or danger. I try to buy all of our outdoor lights (and really all of our Christmas decorations) on the after Christmas sales. I’ve gotten lights at 70% off and other Christmas décor as much as 90% off. Lowes, Home Depot, Fred Meyer, and Hobby Lobby have been my go-tos for these types of sales. If you missed sales last year, consider the day after Thanksgiving shopping for Christmas décor. Typically, the sales are pretty good.
In order to bring the cheer to your block, it really doesn’t take much. Scared of ladders? I don’t blame you. If it wasn’t for my husband, there would be no way that my house would have lights on it. However, we have plenty of bushes and trees that we can easily drape lights on. There’s plenty of fun ways to go about it.
Light ’em up! Or at least put them up…
Buy all white for the traditional look, or you can be like me and grab whatever is on sale and artistically piece it together for a fun array of color. A lot can be done with the bushes and landscaping. The point is to have something. That’s all it takes. The cul-de-sac that I live on always looks so cheery because everyone participates. We have houses that go all out and those that just put up what they can. Because every house has some Christmas cheer, it really makes the entire cul-de-sac feel like a little Christmas festival every night you come home.
Now that you’ve got your light displays ready to go. Why should you start thinking about them now? Starting after Halloween (that’s where my boundaries lie) we keep an eye out for a nice, sunny, warm Saturday afternoon where we can get the whole family involved and leisurely put up the Christmas lights.
I avoid any of the obvious items, such as the blow ups, wreathes, and candy canes until closer to the acceptable Christmas season, but putting up lights on bushes and the house are hardly visible during the day, and we don’t even turn them on until that more “appropriate Christmas” time. This does two things: 1) We don’t have to freeze to the point where our fingers turn blue while we’re putting up our Christmas lights, and 2) it frees up one of the few December weekends to focus on more family oriented super Christmassy activities. Plus, because it’s pitched as a big family pre-Christmas event (including hot cocoa), we get to begin our Christmas cheer and build excitement for the season before Thanksgiving.
Now you can avoid being Grinch-mom and get ready for Christmas too!
You don’t have to break any obvious “no Christmas before December” rules to prepare for a fun and peaceful holiday season. In fact, by prepping early, you actually allow yourself to optimize your Christmas season and do it with plenty of parental breaks and cozy nights on the couch. What’s your favorite way to avoid stress during the Christmas season? Feel free to leave that in the comments and subscribe for more fun holiday traditions to come. Found this helpful? Share the future merriment and stress free Christmas strategies with your friends by pinning it or sharing on social media. Also, be sure to check out my strategies for keeping my sanity during mom life and the holiday season. Happy Fall! We’ll get to the “Merry Christmasses” when it’s socially acceptable to turn on the Christmas light displays and crank up those Christmas tunes…
The Mama behind Momma Life 2 the Fullest
Hi Mama! I’m so glad that you are here! My name is Ashlyn and I am a wife, full-time mom and full-time university faculty among other less important titles, such as coffee junkie, outdoor lover, craft and Pinterest enthusiast, energetic traveler, activities planner, and to-do list master. I find that my day sometimes feels like a swirl of diapers, meals, meetings, chores, etc. And, I created this blog as a landing spot to share my experiences and purpose to live this crazy mom life to the absolute fullest.
I was born and raised in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I was homeschooled for the majority of my childhood, which offered me some unique traveling and cultural opportunities. I earned my degree in English and my Masters degree Instructional Design. Before landing my current, work-from-home job, I also taught in the classroom as a 9th grade English-Language Arts teacher.
When we had our daughter, I knew that I wanted to do everything I could to be as present as possible for my little one, so that’s when I found my current flexible-schedule, work-from-home job at an online university.
Mom life is a true gift from God. We were selected to be our little humans mommies, and that is a tremendous blessing and a huge responsibility. This life isn’t meant to just get by. This life is meant to live to the fullest, and our children deserve the most present, life-breathing versions of us.
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