It is no secret that I love all things having to do with the holidays, especially Christmas. (You know how I feel about Halloween – if it fell off the calendar I wouldn’t even notice.) In the past, I would start thinking about how to prepare for the holidays around Halloween, but really woudn’t start until mid-November. However, last year I took a good hard look at all of the things that I consider holiday traditions and tried to decide which ones were worth my time in the busiest month of the year. As a result, I cut out things that I actually enjoy for the sake of saving time and saving my sanity.
Last year I didn’t send holiday cards and I don’t regret it. I got back at least four December evenings that would have once been spent hunting down addresses, addressing cards, stamping cards, not to mention the time to take photos and choose and order a card. But then I had an epiphany. A friend of mine mentioned that she was ordering her holiday cards now to get a jump on the season and it occurred to me that this would solve all of my problems! Well, at the very least it would solve all of my holiday card related problems. And that got me thinking about other ways we can prepare for the holidays now so that we can sit back and enjoy the season when the time comes.
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Prepare for the Holidays Tip #1 – Order holiday cards early
All of the photo sites have their holiday card layouts ready to go and there are plenty of deals to be found. (Don’t forget to use eBates when you order your cards – I found a discount code that I didn’t see on the website when I was ordering and I ended up saving 70% on my cards, PLUS I got cash back!)
If you don’t feel quite ready to order your cards, schedule your family photos for October, get your address list ready and updated. If you print labels, take care of that now. Even go ahead and buy stamps now. One more added bonus to this level of prep (and a lot of these ideas) is that you’re spreading the cost of the holidays out over several months rather than one big chunk in December.
Tip#2 – Stock up on kitchen supplies
Keep an eye on your supermarket sales and stock up on the supplies that you’ll need to complete your holiday baking and entertaining. Think things like chocolate chips, flour, sprinkles, parchment paper, caramel and any other supplies that you might need. Those items can really weigh down a grocery bill if you try purchasing them all at once, but if you spread out the cost you won’t even notice. Now might be a great time to start adding an extra bottle of wine to your cart if that’s something you’ll indulge in more throughout the holidays.
I like to use an app called Flipp that keeps all the weekly circulars at my fingertips. But, the real game changer for me, has been Walmart Grocery. Order online and schedule your pickup. Walmart has some of the lowest prices around especially on the supplies you’ll need for the holidays. Get $10 off your first purchase here!
Tip #3 – Make your list and check it twice
Take a minute and write out a list of all of the gifts you give each holiday season. Include EVERY gift. Do you give to neighbors, friends, the mailman? Does your office have a white elephant gift exchange? I add this list to the notes app of my phone and start keeping a list of gift ideas for each person. There are apps that are specifically for this sort of thing, but I am fine with just using my Notes app. I turn on the checklist option so that I have the chance to check off each item as I pick it up. This way I always have my list on hand if I find myself in a store that’s having a killer sale, or if I’m wandering aimlessly through the mall while my kids and husband eye every single giant set in the LEGO store.
Tip #4 – Gift Card Stockpile
Take a look at the list you made in item #3. If you find yourself giving a lot of gift cards like I know that we do, start buying those now. If you add one Target gift card to your shopping cart every time you run through the grocery store, you’ll be all stocked up in time for giving to teachers, coaches and music instructors.
You can also find a great selection of gift cards on eBates plus you get cash back on each one you purchase. Ordering them now to have on hand might be my best kept secret.
Tip #5 – Find your One True Gift
In the past I have spent a lot of time looking for one truly unique gift for each person on my list, and while that’s noble and there’s nothing wrong with that, the reality is that some years there just isn’t some perfectly matched gift for each person. (One year I found a game-used hockey puck that had been turned into a bottle opener for my hockey loving uncle. Gems like that don’t come around every year.) That doesn’t mean there isn’t something that I would enjoy giving and they would enjoy getting! Last year I decided that all of the women in my family were getting Barefoot Dreams robes. The year before that I gave A LOT of Echo Dots as gifts. If you ask nicely, it’s possible we’ll write a post on some of the ideas we have for this year (because we have some good ones!) But think of those gifts that would make great gifts for multiple people on your list and then save yourself some time (and a lot of mental gymnastics) and buy multiples!
Sometimes it helps to think of these things in categories as there’s not likely to be one gift for EVERYONE on your list. But perhaps you group people together and make it work. ALL of that being said, I don’t apply this to my immediate family, but there’s no reason that you can’t!
Are you looking forward to the holidays? Tell us your tried-and-true hacks on how you prepare for the holidays! Help spread the holiday cheer by saving the pin above to your favorite holiday or life-hacks Pinterest board! And don’t forget to download our free holiday printable for your busy delivery driver this holiday.