Thursday, October 11, 2018

{11} Christmas Things to Think About NOW

I KNOW.  It's not even mid-October and I'm talking about Christmas prep.  I KNOW.  It's borderline ridiculous, especially seeing as it feels like 89° outside as I write this.  (That is not typical for this time of year, it should be closer to 70°.)  But, yes, I am thinking Christmas prep already.  Really, Christmas is never that far from my mind besides maybe in the heat of summer.  I've been known to start missing it the day after we take down our tree in January. 

But even for people who aren't Christmas crazy like me, it's never too early to start planning to have a peaceful and joyous December.  Well, maybe much before October is too early to start planning with with just over 2 months to go, mid-October is definitely not too early. 

And, really, I like to have most of my work-ish prep done by the first week in December, leaving the rest of December for watching Christmas movies and tv episodes, wrapping presents, frosting cookies, and, of course, all that celebrating.  So, really, that only leave me 9 weeks which all of a sudden doesn't feel like enough time.  SO, Christmas things you can start thinking about now to save yourself some stress in November and December.


1) Buy Christmas card stamps
The post office starts getting them around October 1st.  I will buy these on my next trip there.

2) Make a Christmas card list
I, of course, have this in Excel.  A list of names, I use as my final check-off when sending cards and then check off who sends us a card each year (you might get cut if you don't send one back, depending on how many extra cards I have).  Some quick reviewing for anyone getting cut from the list this year and who I know have moved in the last 11ish months and need to get a new address from.  Done in under 5 minutes.

3) Update addresses
See above, I'll usually text or Facebook message people for their address.  Or ask my Mom/sisters.  Quick and painless.

4) Start Pulling Pictures
We do a photo card, and since we can't agree on having professional family pictures taken, I've been using a variety of pictures from throughout the year.  Now is the time to start pulling favorites and possibilities to put on the card.  If you do a fall photo shoot, as often seems to be the case from cards we receive, well this is pretty easy.

5) Make Your Own Wish List
I haven't been very good about this myself but I have been thinking about it!

6) Determine Who You are Buying Presents For
Ours is usually pretty much the same every year, with just changes for who we draw in the various exchanges.  Our immediate family of 4, parents, godchildren, the gift exchanges, that's pretty much it.
7) Make a Budget
I honestly do this in January when I am tweaking my budget for the year and for the most part, it stays pretty consistent year after year.  BUT, I am a firm believer in having limits, in a variety of areas, and sticking to them and money handling is certainly one.  Especially at Christmas when it's easy to keep going on the shopping and one more things turns into 5 more things and there is just so much excess STUFF exchanged in December.  Make a budget now, way before last minute panic sets in, and then stick to it.

8) Wish Lists for your Kids
If you have them.  I've already given ideas for both boys to people, even if we don't fully know what we are giving them ourselves.  (What do you buy for a baby who can wear all of his brother's clothes and doesn't need a single other toy?  I am very open to suggestions, he might be getting formula for Christmas and really, that's about what he loves most in the world, so he'll be thrilled, if he understands this gift giving AT ALL.)  But since I am anti extra/excess stuff, we try to be very conscientious about what we give the boys as gifts.  I suppose you could also ask them what they want but, if your kids are like mine, they have already told you 100 times.

9) Pick Recipes
For Christmas cookies I make pretty much the same 8ish standards every year and then throw in 1-2 new ones.  Those new ones usually come from something I've pinned to Pinterest.  But I also start looking at pie and other dessert recipe possibilities for Thanksgivings.  Which I KNOW isn't Christmas but I'm working on that in the midst of all my Christmas prep.

10) Make a Baking Plan
I will have this done by the end of the month.  I use the same general plan I wrote about WAY back here.  I've added a spreadsheet (OF COURSE) with all the ingredients for my old favorites so it's easy to calculate how much flour, sugar, butter, etc. I'll need to buy in early November.  Then I just follow my plan and bake away for 6 weeks!

11) Schedule, and Then Schedule Some More
I like to have my Thanksgiving - New Years pretty well planned out by early November.  The big family parties are already on the calendar but for things like date night, picking which Christmas movies we watch which nights, when we'll frost cookies as a family, etc. I'll be blocking it all in before too long.  I like having a plan and it eases decision making to get it all done at once!

Whew.  It feels good to get this all written down instead of just jostling around in my head.  Even though I took multiple breaks in writing to stop and actually do the steps I was writing about (I've now started pulling Christmas card pictures and have my mailing list almost done, thank you).

I love Christmas and most of the prep that goes with it, but I especially like getting most of it done so that we can spend December actually focusing on what really matters (Jesus' birth, family, cookie eating) instead of stressing about all the little details.   It's a beautiful time of year and if I can spread the Christmas season to almost 3 months instead of just one, I will most definitely do that!

What are you thinking about Christmas?  Or do you think I'm crazy for putting this much thought into it while most of the leaves are still green?  Let me know either way!

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