Countdown to Christmas: 10 things to do before the holidays

As the weather changes and the calendar reminds us that Christmas is coming, it can be hard to hold back on getting ready! The stores put out the Christmas displays earlier and earlier every year, it seems. And sometimes it can be hard to resist rushing the season. What can you do to get ready for Christmas without actually getting ready?

The anticipation is part of the fun!

Countdown to Christmas with me and let’s get ready for Christmas — or get ready to get ready! Here are ten fun and easy things we can do to prepare — without actually diving into Christmas yet.

1. Plan your Christmas Calendar

This really does need to be done early, because often coordinating work schedules, booking childcare or getting spaces and gifts needs to be done sooner rather than later. So if you’re planning a party, hosting a dinner or organizing a cookie trade, start putting it on the calendar now.

As a single parent, I’m coordinating with my children’s father for all those family events. Getting the tree, decorating the house, and who is picking them up when gets tricky when there are two households to schedule! So we usually get our calendars planned by the end of October.

2. Stock up on baking supplies

Stores start putting things like sugar, flour and baking powder on sale around the middle of October or beginning of November every year. And this is the perfect opportunity to make your list of baked goods! Figure out which special cookies, pies and goodies you’ll be baking this year. Then you can stock up while the supplies are on sale.

And don’t forget the evaporated milk!

By the way, all those cookies make DIY Christmas Gifts!

3. Update your Christmas Card mailing list.

This is an old-fashioned tradition that needs to come back! Getting stuff in the mail (that isn’t a bill!) is a pretty cool feeling. And sending a Christmas card — especially a personalized one — is a great way to express how you feel about people in your life.

Yes we all keep up with each other’s lives on Facebook and Instagram. And yes emails are just a click of a button away. But there really is nothing like an old-fashioned, handwritten card or letter to connect with extended family and friends.

So grab mailing addresses from Grandma, look up the zip codes for your friends, so you can surprise them later this year with notes of love, friendship and holiday sentiments.

4. Take family photos!

If you haven’t done this already, look up your local photo studio or a family photographer and book that date NOW. Yes now.. I’ll wait!

If you have gotten your photos done, but they’re still sitting in your email inbox, stop reading now, and head over to Walmart, your local drugstore or grocery store, and get them printed. I’ll wait.

Now you have something to put inside those Christmas cards we just talked about.

5. Set your Christmas budget.

The holidays can be expensive! So sit down and plan ahead. Set a budget for buying gifts, decorations, and meals out. This is also a good time to figure out who you will be buying for too.

Every year, I list out who is on my list, besides my kids. I have friends, family and special people who have helped me in some way over the last year, for whom I want to do something in return. I list out their names and set a budget amount for each person or family. That helps me brainstorm ideas on what to get for each person, within that budget.

6. Check the lights, and rehang any.

So you know all those light displays that are gorgeous in December? If you hang lights on your house for Christmas, now is the time to check those. Make sure you don’t need to replace any bulbs, and check for loose or exposed wires.

And now is also the time to hang them up! Do it in the nicer weather, before the winter storms come along. The last thing you’re going to want to do is hang up lights in freezing cold — or worse, damp and chilly — weather.

7. Stock up on wrapping paper and tape.

The last thing you want to have to do is brave the stores in the Christmas rush, looking for wrapping paper and tape. So check your supplies now, and grab a few extra rolls of both.

Don’t be like me and needing to use painter’s tape to get the kids’ gifts wrapped at 2 am on Christmas Eve.

8. Refresh your Christmas playlist.

One of the best parts about Christmas is the music and movies! And we have favorites to play every year. Take a few minutes now and go through those lists. Queue up old favorites, and add in some new variations. Or maybe add a few new films to your Christmas movie list. You might find a new favorite this year.

9. Find your Christmas-themed wardrobe.

Whether you need a new “ugly sweater” for a party with friends or formal wear for that work party, check your closet. Does that dress last year still fit? Do you need new shoes? Maybe everything needs dry cleaning!

Now’s the time to do that, so you can beat the rush.

10. Figure out when to start!

So now that I’ve done all this planning, I’m excited!! So when can we start the Christmas season?

That’s the last thing on the list. Plan when you start. Will you be putting on the Christmas music the day after Halloween? Do you wait till December 1?

In my house, we wait till November 12. November 11 in Canada is “Remembrance Day” when we remember and honor our veterans. I have several family members as part of our armed forces, and my girls are in our Cadets program. So we take it seriously.

But after November 11th — it’s time for all things Christmas!!

When will you get ready for Christmas?

You can start to get ready now! There’s no hard and fast rule that says you can’t get ready for Christmas whenever you like. The end-of-year holiday season is one of the most fun things of the year, and I love it.

What are you looking forward to the most?

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