Do you ever wonder when you should start getting ready for Christmas? Maybe sooner than you think!
Every Christmas seems more hectic than the last. And every year I tell myself that I’ll be more prepared the following year. But them I’m not.
I can’t be the only one!
Most of us wait until December to start preparing, but it finally occurred to me that there are actually a lot of things we can do months ahead.
Want to join me and finally get organized for the holidays in advance this year?
Okay, great! Here’s how to get ready for Christmas early!
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What should I do to get ready for Christmas?
1. Start saving money
Perhaps the sneakiest thing about the holidays is how expensive they are!
A major part of preparing for Christmas is having enough money for the gifts, decorations, food, and ugly sweaters.
But you could actually be saving money all year long, and be totally ready!
Banks and credit unions used to have ‘Christmas accounts’ that were designed for people to put money in that was specifically allocated for the holidays.
You could easily do that today by opening a separate savings account and adding to it from every paycheck.
Just $25 per biweekly paycheck means you’d have $650 ready to buy gifts with in December.
If you don’t have any spare money to save, you can start earning extra instead! Here are 21 ways to make extra money for Christmas.
2. Create a budget
Another easy way to avoid being surprised by the cost of the holidays is to create a budget of what you will realistically spend.
Thinking back to last year, make a list of all the things you spent money on.
Common Christmas expenses include:
- Stocking stuffers
- Festive outfits
- Gift wrap supplies
- Charitable contributions
Next to each category, jot down how much you plan to spend. Once you add them up, that’s your Christmas budget.
Or if you have an idea of the total you want to spend (ie. $750) break up that total amount over the categories.
Example for $750 budget:
- $500 – gifts and stocking stuffers
- $50 – cards and stamps
- $25 – gift wrap supplies
- $50 – kids’ Christmas outfits
- $50 – food to bring to parties
- $25 – new wreath
- $50 – Salvation Army donation
3. Sort through your decor
The last thing you feel like doing on the day you put up or take down your Christmas decor is sorting through it.
But you could go through a bin or two at a time. Organize it in a convenient way, and donate anything you no longer love.
You’ll be so happy you did!
4. Create a gift list
Start making a list of all the people you buy for every year. Don’t forget to include the people you tend to forget until the last minute, like teachers or your hairdresser.
Next to each name, you can even start brainstorming some gift ideas. Or check out all the fun ideas on Pinterest, and make a ‘gift ideas’ board.
You can even use it as a Christmas gift checklist that you can use to check off each person so no one gets forgotten.
5. Make your own wish list
Ever feel like a deer in headlights when someone asks you what you want for Christmas?
Well every time you think of something you want, add it to an Amazon Wish List!
That way you can just send people the list, or reference it yourself later to remember all the things you’re wishing for.
6. Work on your Christmas card list
If you don’t have a master list of all the people you send Christmas cards too, it’s time to make one!
Create a spreadsheet (or paper list, if that’s your style) of everyone and their address.
Not having to thumb through your address book looking for each person saves a lot of time!
7. Do a brain dump
Start thinking about everything involved in getting ready for Christmas, and everything that goes on in December.
Write down anything that comes to mind that could you get organized this year.
Even something as simple as remembering to schedule hair appointments, or figuring out who will watch your pet if you’re traveling is helpful.
That brain dump can be the basis for your holiday to-do list.
8. List traditions you want to start
Did last December pass by, and there were so many fun things you wished you had done?
In the hectic time, it’s super easy to forget all the holiday traditions you want to do.
Start making a list of all those traditions to serve as a Holiday Bucket List.
For inspiration, I have a post with 80 fun and unique Christmas traditions!
9. Brainstorm ideas for your holiday party
If you’re planning to host a holiday party this year, start brainstorming all the details.
Important things to consider are the menu, theme, and guest list.
10. Plan your meals
If you’ve ever hosted a big holiday dinner, you know how much work it can be.
There are so many elements – the main dish(es), side dishes, and don’t forget the desserts and appetizers!
Make a list of all the dishes you usually make (or want to make) for Christmas, along with their recipes and ingredients.
Keep it from year to year so you don’t have to re-think it every time you host.
And you can even start stocking up on the non-perishables way in advance!
11. Get free gift cards (or cash back)
Then you can use the gift cards or money back to buy gifts with!
Get a $10 welcome bonus from Ibotta HERE! (Or use code uwhaflc if signing up through the app.)
To try Fetch (it’s super easy!) use code UGY82 to receive an extra 2000 points when you download the app.
Ebates is one of my favorite ways to earn money just by shopping. I use it for online shopping, but there is an in-store option too.
You simply click through from Ebates website to the store you want to shop at, then order like usual.
They offer 2-20% cash back, depending on the store! Then they send you a check in the mail every quarter.
It’s such an easy way to make money!
If you sign up for Ebates through this link, they’ll give you an extra $10 back on your first purchase.
12. Plan your baked goods
If you like to make a lot of holiday goodies, part of getting ready for Christmas early means planning what you’re gonna make.
Organize your baked-good recipes together, and even create a master list of all the ingredients.
That way you can stock up when they start going on sale in early November.
If you’re really organized, you can even bake your cookies up to 3 months early, and keep them in your freezer.
13. Analyze last Christmas
Think back to last year, and what worked well and what didn’t.
Like how you thought you wanted to do Elf on the Shelf every day, but then kept forgetting and getting stressed about it?
Come up with ways to change what didn’t work last year. And brainstorm some solutions to common problems and annoyances that always arise.
Like forgetting to buy batteries. Again.
Related: 5 Ways to Stay Sane at Christmastime
14. Make travel arrangements
If you’re planning to travel over the holidays, it’s best to make the travel arrangements far in advance.
It saves money, and it’s one less thing you have to worry or think about.
If you want to rent a house for a family trip, you can get $55 off your first stay with Airbnb through this link.
15. Stock up on gift wrap
Stores put their Christmas gift wrap out before Halloween now, so there’s no reason you need to scramble for it right before you start wrapping presents.
I find a lot of great gift wrapping supplies at the Dollar Tree, so be sure to check there before spending $5 on a roll of wrapping paper.
16. Start shopping for gifts (and stocking stuffers)
When you see a great price on an item someone you give to would love, just buy it!
Even if it’s July! Since you already made your gift list and brainstormed ideas, there’s no reason you can’t start shopping early.
Don’t forget to start working on those stocking stuffers too!
Pro-tip: If you really want to be a rockstar, wrap the gifts as you buy them too. Just remember to label them so you remember what they are!
17. Make freezer meals you can eat in December
Maybe your holiday season is filled with outings every other night. Or you just get sick of cooking after hosting all the big dinners.
Do your future self a favor and have some meals prepped and ready to throw in the oven or slow cooker.
I love Eat at Home Meal Plans, because they create done-for-you meal plans and shopping lists every month.
It always includes 6 freezer meals that you can prep in under 1 hour a month.
18. Design your Christmas card
One of my favorite Christmas preparation ideas is to create your holiday cards early.
Sites like Shutterfly have their holiday cards available to customize and order any time.
Choose a family photo that you’ve already taken, or have a special photo shoot.
Nothing says the actual photo has to be holiday-themed!
19. Start making DIY gifts
If you like to give homemade gifts (from crafts, to jam, to ‘in a jar’ cookie mixes), start making them early.
It’ll feel so good to have your DIY gifts ready to go, so you’re not scrambling trying to finish them on Christmas Eve.
Wrapping it up
I hope these ideas for how to get ready for Christmas early really helped you know what you need to do for that hectic season.
As you can see, there are a TON of ways to get organized for Christmas, even far in advance.
Come up with a timeline for yourself to accomplish each of these tasks. A Christmas preparation checklist, if you will.
No more getting to December 15, and wondering ‘what do I need to do for Christmas?’ Being prepared feels so good!
Cheers to preparing for Christmas 2019!
Be sure to also check out
How to Create a Christmas Budget (and actually stick to it!)
How to Make Extra Money for Christmas: 21 Easy Ideas
How to Throw a Fabulous Holiday Party on a Budget
51 Cheap Gift Ideas Under $10 (that people will actually want!)
80 Super Unique Christmas Traditions to Try This Year
Learn How to Be a Better Gift Giver with these 15 Easy Tricks
35 of the Best Christmas Movies
5 Ways to Stay Sane During the Holiday Season
8 Surprisingly Helpful Dollar Store Christmas Items
75 Winter Bucket List Ideas to Help You Enjoy the Season More