December is the most hectic month of the year. Between community events, school programs, gift buying, travel, and other holiday celebrations, it can be easy to get so stressed that you miss out on the joy and magic of the season. To help alleviate some of the stress, follow our December planning guide.
First week of December
1. Make a gift list
Write down the names of everyone you have to buy gifts for, from your family to the teachers at school. Then populate the lists with gifts they’ve asked for, or ones you know they want. Start buying items as soon as possible. Many popular gifts sell out early in the month.
2. Check online shipping deadlines
Even if you don’t purchase everything this week, make sure you purchase anything online that will take a few weeks to ship. Items that often take longer include anything made-to-order, like engravings or embroidered fabrics.
3. Get your Christmas outfits
Whether it’s a fancy holiday party, or the Christmas service at church, make sure you make time to purchase outfits for your family if you need them. Holiday clothing often sells out quickly, so don’t procrastinate.
4. Plan your holiday events
With so many events, and only a few weekends to do them, you need to decide which ones you’d like to attend this year. Maybe it’s a local festival or parade. Maybe another town has an event you’d like to check out, but the drive requires some scheduling. Don’t forget to fit in some volunteer time as well. As the saying goes, it’s much better to give than to receive.
5. Decorate the house
If you’re going to take the time to decorate the inside and outside of your house, do it as early as possible so you can enjoy it. There’s no sense in doing all that work, just to take it all down a week later.
Second Week of December
1. Plan your Christmas menu
Are you making Christmas dinner? What about breakfast? Do you have dinner plans for Christmas Eve? Talk to your family, and decide who is cooking what, and make your shopping list.
2. Wrap gifts as you buy them
Many parents are familiar with the stress of wrapping lots of gifts on Christmas Eve. Instead of staying up all night (and feeling exhausted all Christmas Day), start wrapping as you buy your gifts. Keep a running list of what you’ve purchased, the cost, and whom it’s for. This will help you stick to your budget, and help you remember exactly what’s under the tree.
3. Plan for travel
Hopefully you’ve already purchased plane tickets if you are planning on flying, and now is the time to think about packing. What will the weather be like? Should you ship your gifts to your destination, and wrap them when you arrive? If you bring your gifts, will you be charged extra luggage fees? Parents, don’t forget to bring your Elf on a Shelf if you participate in that tradition.
4. Get a live tree
If you want a live tree, aim to get it toward the middle to end of the second week of December, so that it can stay fresh for as long as possible. Go to a reputable tree lot, where you’re less at risk for getting a “lemon” that loses all it’s needles after a few days.
Third Week of December
1. Clean your house
If you’re having guests over, spend some time cleaning up to make room for both the gift-opening extravaganza, and the people who will join you. Clean out the fridge, and make sure you have space for your turkey, ham, or other dishes you’ll be eating on Christmas.
2. Buy batteries for toys
Nothing is more of a bummer for kids on Christmas than not being able to play with their new toys because you’re out of batteries.
3. Don’t forget stocking stuffers
It’s easy to forget these little items, so make sure you don’t leave them out! Candy, costume jewelry, gift cards, slime, nail polish, and Hot Wheels cars all make great stocking stuffers for kids. Here are more ideas if you need them.
A Few Days Before Christmas
1. Buy your groceries
Buy your perishables as early as you can, but not so early that they will go bad. You want to avoid the unfortunate scenario of an empty produce section, so plan accordingly.
2. Start cooking, and plan your Christmas Day cooking schedule
Don’t leave all the cooking for Christmas Day. Pies are a great dish to make ahead of time, as well as casseroles. Think about how many items will need to go in the oven on Christmas Day, how long they each need to bake, and at what temperature. Make a cooking schedule so you can get everything done in a timely manner.
3. Slow down
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With all the rushing around, make sure you take time to spend with your family. After all, that’s what the holiday season is all about. Make memories, have fun, and enjoy the people you love the most.