If previous holiday seasons have seen you running around at the last minute, trying to get everything done, then make a pledge to get organized this year. The holidays are certainly a busy time, but the more you prep, the easier they’ll be. Here’s a plan that’ll make life much easier in the run-up to the big day.
In the months before
While September or October might feel too early to talk about Christmas, you should make a family plan, deciding who is hosting and whether you’ll see them on Christmas day or around New Years. If you’re going to see family, book your plane tickets as soon as you decide the dates, they get increasingly expensive as Christmas approaches.
Start to put dates on your calendar as they crop up. Your family get-togethers, work holiday parties, the kids’ recitals and so on. This will help you avoid date clashes down the line.
Six to eight weeks to go
Around mid-October, you can start baking things that freeze, which makes life so much easier when you need to produce a batch of Christmas cookies or muffins. You can even batch cook and freeze some dishes such as lasagna or a casserole, so when you’re busy with prep and have events happening, you can still have a home-cooked meal.
You should also start planning for any extra visitors you’ll have over the holiday season. It can be good to have a declutter and deep clean, and if you’ve had problems with pests, you might want to bring in experts to clear them out. Click here to find out more. Buy extra sheets and towels and get any DIY jobs done that you need to finish. You could also spruce up the guest room with some cozy accessories such as throws and cushions.
Four to six weeks to go
Before Black Friday arrives, you should have a gift list and budget at the ready, as this will ensure you only buy things people want, and don’t get carried away by the bargains. Black Friday shopping is usually best for expensive items such as designer clothing, electronics or toys, but generally, there will be a number of sales around this time as retailers try to lure you in.
Once Thanksgiving is over, you can start stocking the cupboard with Christmas foods that have a long shelf life. This might include canned foods, cookies, chocolates and any traditional treats your family loves.
One month to go
As your online shopping purchases arrive, wrap them as you go. Make note of any last shipping dates from your favorite stores, as some can be very early. Write your cards and post any that are going internationally early.
Get your decorations out so you can sort through them, deciding what to reuse and what needs replacing. You should also take stock of your pots and pans, glasses and dishes to make sure you have enough to pull off a Christmas feast.
Two to three weeks to go
Choose your Christmas tree and decorate it. You’ll no doubt be seriously in the festive mood with lots of fun events going on. Finalize your menu and order items such as your turkey in advance. Make separate shopping lists of things to buy in the run-up to Christmas, and things to buy at the last minute such as fresh food.
You should be well prepared for the final few days before Christmas, so other than cleaning, cooking what you can in advance and shopping for fresh ingredients, you can enjoy the holiday celebrations.
Your final bit of organization should be to make a timetable for Christmas day. Work out what time you want to serve your meal, then work backward to figure out what time the turkey, stuffing and other dishes have to go in the oven. That way, it all gets cooked at the right time, and you can relax with a glass of wine to celebrate your success.