Wait... what? Did you read that right? It's October... autumn leaves and chilly breeze. Thanksgiving, Halloween, Remembrance and Veterans Day are the next occasions... aren't they? It's waaaay too early to start thinking about Christmas... isn't it?
I've got news for you, my friend... you're actually already a little bit late. If you love the Christmas season, but year after year you tend to find yourself stressing out more than enjoying the holidays, I have a solution for you.
Yes, yes... I know some of you just cringed at the thought of Christmas in October (Or September... Or July...), but believe me, in the long run, you will thank me.
I don't mean you should go put up your Christmas tree now or anything, but if you start thinking and planning now, December would be a breeze and you will get to actually sit back and enjoy everything the season brings.
How To Have A Stress-Free Christmas
1. Do A Brain Dump
This is the first step. Whether you prefer doing this on your computer, or with paper and pen, start jotting everything down... no particular order at this point, just any and everything you want to remember concerning the holidays.
For me, this is the biggest "job" and stress point of the holidays. Always trying to figure out "What to get" for people.
Because of this, I try to focus on this part early and get it all done way before December.
Pro Tip: Keep a big "catch-all" box in the basement ALL YEAR ROUND, and put potential gifts in the box anytime you come across any. Find a good sale? Pick up a couple extra items and put it in the box.
Make a list of everyone you need to give a gift to (keep a master list that you can start with every year). Don't forget people such as your Mailman, Kids' Teachers, Coworkers, Secret Santas etc.
Start assigning gifts to each person (go through your catch-all gift box and try to use as many items from there as possible).
Pro Tip: Don't be ashamed to get the same gift for multiple people. The recipients won't mind, and it saves you a lot of brainstorming (and money if you get a good sale on the item)
For the "special" people on your list, you may have multiple gifts for each person (especially for the kiddies!). If you are getting a big-ticket item for any of these people, start researching options now and keep your eyes opened for sales.
Next step: BUY THEM. That's right... why wait? You have to get them eventually, and once they're bought and in your possession, you can cross them off of your list! (Sooo satisfying!)
I do all of my shopping online, which makes this process so much easier.
THEN! (Here's a big one...!) WRAP THEM RIGHT AWAY!
This would remove SO much stress from your December. As soon as you buy an item, wrap it right away and store it somewhere until gift-giving time comes along. BAM.
3. DIY Gifts
From our experience, thoughtfulness wins when it comes to the special and close people in your life. Over the past few years, we have been creating handmade DIY gifts for our special people, and they have been a hit. Start now with making DIY gifts. Whether you want to dedicate a day or weekend and do it all in one go, or do a little bit every other night or so is up to you, but again, don't wait until December to start DIYing.
If you send out holiday cards to friends and family, now is the time to get started. Set up your family photoshoot and create those cards. When mailing time comes, you're ready... no stress.
If a family photoshoot is too much time/effort/cost, try this cute idea instead. Have your kid(s) do a Christmas drawing, scan it in, and use that as your holiday card.
Every year my kids participate in Samaritan's Purse's Operation Christmas Child. We pack shoeboxes with a variety of gifts, which are delivered to suffering children around the world. Shoebox collection week is in November, so we start filling them early.
6. Events and Dates
Whether you use your phone calendar or written planner, start filling in dates. Santa Claus Parade, Community Festivals, Christmas Markets, Family and Friends Events, Work Holiday Dinners etc.
Start saving recipe ideas that you may want to try over the holiday season, so when grocery shopping time comes, you'll have a plan. Keep your recipe and ingredient lists from year to year so you don’t have to re-think it every time you host.
Start clothes shopping now for you and your family... Holiday parties, Pictures with Santa, Christmas Eve pyjamas, Christmas Day. If you can plan them now, there's one less thing to worry about during the holidays.
Deep cleaning your home before the holidays is a tradition in Trinidad. It's the time of year that people wash their drapery, paint their homes and generally clean things that they haven't all year. Start slowly now, so it won't take up too much time later on.
10. Enjoy Your Christmas
Once you take care of all the necessities early, you will have much more time to enjoy all of the fun, festive activities of the season. Do you find that every Christmas passes by, and there are many fun things and traditions you wish you can do, but never get around to it? Make these things a priority now! Bake cookies, watch Christmas movies, make crafts, sing carols, build a gingerbread house, read Christmas books, drive around to see the lights... ENJOY a stress-free Christmas!