12 Ingenious Things You Can Do Now to Prepare for the Holiday Season

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12 Ingenious Things You Can Do Now to Prepare for the Holiday Season

Are you competitive? Do you love beating your own best records? Imagine approaching large family gatherings with peace and serenity instead of stress and dread.

No need to wait until the the kids are settled in school to get ready for the holidays. These are things you can easily do on-the-fly with an app like Google Keep or EverNote. While all the neighbors are scurrying around to prepare for the holiday season, you’ll be smiling at how savvy you were while you look on from the front window, sipping hot cocoa from your favorite mug.

There are many ways to prepare for the holiday season, but here are twelve tried-and-true methods to get the job done and leave you looking and feeling like a star. These prep tips will ensure that you’ll enjoy the season and suffer less stress by starting now

Everyone loves the holidays but many miss the best part of the season by waiting too long to prepare thoroughly. Then they end up being too busy to enjoy them. It’s wonderful to have the clarity and head space that a checklist marked “done” allows you. It makes it easier to focus on others and build relationships.

#1 – Make a Plan. You know what they say about planning. Keep it simple. All you need is your smartphone or a calendar, plus little chunks of time here and there to sketch in what you need to pull the holidays off in style. If you’ll be hosting Christmas dinner, set the time now so you can work backward from there. Creating an image in your mind of the end result you’d like can jumpstart this effort.

#2 – Organize Your Lists. Santa’s got just one list, but you’ll need a few more than that, including: Christmas cards, gifts, clothing, decorations, housecleaning, menu items, groceries, cooking utensils and tools, watch list for sale items, guests, and donations. Put everything in one easy-to-grab three-ring binder or folder that can fit easily in your bag. If you’re a smartphone user, Google Keep and Evernote are great options.

#3 – Map Out Your Budget. No matter how remotely something is related to the holidays, you must capture it all in one place to be most effective. There’s nothing worse than sticker shock during or after the holiday season. Putting it all down now allows you to refine ideas as you go. Then you can more easily adjust your purchase plans to make room for holiday treats such as a play or other outings. There’s no better feeling than Christmas being paid in full before it even starts. You can make it happen.

#4 – Lay Out Your Shopping Strategy. You might as well start comparing prices now. With all of the many places to shop online, the odds that you’ll get a great price go up exponentially when you’re prepared with a list. Some things are cheaper now. Other items, such as electronics, are practically guaranteed to be sold at great prices on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You have to do your homework in advance to recognize good deals, though. Mark important deal-grabbing dates on your calendar and start watching the ads for store opening and online shopping hours. Once you know the rules, you’ll be even better at the game.

#5 – Make Homemade Gifts. The earlier you have your gift list prepared, the easier it will be to go through it and really focus on each individual you wish to give a present to. Many people appreciate the extra effort and care that goes into making gifts for the holidays. Other benefits of making gifts from scratch are that they’re often easier on the budget. Plus they can be easily personalized, and they’re often more green because there is no excess packaging to dispose of. Plan carefully here. Because you’ll be busier with each passing week. If you’re going to make a larger gift, such as a quilt, you’ll want plenty of time.

#6 – Save Money and Be More Creative with Christmas Cards. If you buy your cards online, you may be able to save money. There are many options for shopping thanks to the power of the Internet. If you want to be more “green” while also being creative, try making your own or even recycling the fronts of cards from past years.

#7 – Start Buying Food Now. That old joke about how to eat an elephant is relevant when it comes to grocery shopping for the holidays. It seems that the list is endless. Instead of fighting the crowds, think what peace of mind you’ll enjoy by working from a menu game plan now. When you check and organize your pantry now, you can avoid purchasing duplicate items that make you wince, like a bottle of cookie sprinkles that you already had but didn’t notice. Take advantage of BOGO offers on meat and other items that you can freeze ahead. Get strategic by going in with neighbors, friends, and family to buy in bulk to maximize savings. Set a goal to be one of the few who doesn’t need to run to the store at the last minute.

#8 – Start Cooking Now. Imagine having cookies and other items prepared before Thanksgiving. Make it look easy to prepare for the holiday season. Be the one to envy because you know you can simply grab something and go to last-minute holiday get-togethers.

#9 – Wrap a Gift a Day. Do what it takes to get everything wrapped and labeled before Thanksgiving. You’ll throw the sneak-peekers off-guard because you’ll also have more time than ever before to figure out where to hide things. This sounds hard to do because you do need to get set up to wrap. It’s really just another chance to flex your creativity. Stock a space with all the tools of the trade: wrapping paper, scissors, gift tags, tape, and ribbon. None but the most dedicated gift sneak-peeker would ever think of looking under the bed in August.

#10 – Plan Your Conversations. The holidays mean different things to different people. When it comes right down to it though, it’s all about relationships. Take your guest list when you have a little quiet time. Focus on each individual who’ll be in your space. Think through what you do and don’t know about them. Decide how you can create a memory that will last with this person, especially if it is someone you only see during the holidays. Jot down questions and things you’d like to know about them.

#11 – Start Saving. Get a jump on the next year now by opening a Christmas Club account. You can do this anytime at your favorite bank. There’s no time like the present to prepare for buying gifts and other holiday expenses. A special fund ensures that you and yours will make this year’s holidays the best ever!

#12 – Earn Bonus Points by Cleaning Well in Advance. When you start early, you can save yourself a lot of stress in the weeks ahead by devoting just 15 minutes a day to prepare for the holiday season by spot-cleaning as well as planning and scheduling larger cleaning projects that will make your holidays the best ever.

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