Happy New Year! To tell you the truth, I didn’t feel much in the Christmas spirit this year. Between some unexpected health problems at the beginning of the month and my brother’s wedding, it felt like I didn’t get a chance to enjoy Christmas as much as I could have (I really enjoyed the wedding, though!...The kidney stones and week-long infection, not so much). So this year I resolved to start planning early, so that by next Christmas, I can really take in the season. These are 9 simple things I’m doing right now to be ready, and believe me, if they weren’t simple, I wouldn’t be doing them.
1. I made a new note in Evernote for Christmas 2016, so that I can add to it throughout the year. This note gives me a place to “dump” all my ideas as they come to mind. I like my Evernote app, because it’s easy to access on my phone or computer, but you could also use your planner (the December section, for example), or whatever works for you.
2. I’m making a list of traditions we love and want to do again (or try out) next year. As a young family, we’re just starting to make our own Christmas traditions, like going caroling to our neighbors and opening a new Christmas book and reading it together on Christmas Eve. I’m keeping a list in my Christmas 2016 note so we can be sure to make time for these next year, and even try a few new traditions.
3. I wrote down all of the people I gave gifts to this year, what I gave, and how much I spent. This was quick and easy to do, and I’m relieved to already have a working Christmas list for next year (which I’m usually writing out over Thanksgiving).
4. I’m setting up a monthly deposit for my Christmas savings account based on the total amount spent this year. After writing down the gifts I bought and how much I spent, it was easy to add in food costs and come up with a working total for next year’s Christmas budget (and break it down into a monthly savings amount).
5. I’m also adding to a generic list of gift ideas for next year. I have a hard time deciding what to give people, but having a list of ideas to pick from should take some of the stress out of next year’s Christmas shopping. Some of the ideas are gifts I’ve given, some are gifts I’ve received (and loved!), and some are ideas I just don’t want to forget before next Christmas comes.
6. I hit up the Christmas clearances. After years of apartment living and Ben losing his job last November, this is actually the first year I’ve shopped the after-Christmas sales. The wait paid off, though. We scored a huge wreath and some garland for under 30 bucks (we would’ve paid over $90 at full price), so next Christmas—our third in our home—we’ll finally be able to decorate the outside of our house. It’s a good thing; I think the neighbors have been wondering if we even celebrate Christmas. But if you’re going to take advantage of 60-90% discounts, this is probably the last weekend before stores clear their shelves.
7. I’m re-organizing all of my Christmas stuff. For years, all of the Christmas stuff we owned fit in one box with the Christmas tree. Now, it’s a couple of plastic bins, but this year I stocked up on a few 18-gallon totes at $5 each, so it’s time to get everything organized—that way, it’s easier to put up next Christmas without having to sort through it all first.
8. I’ve cleared out and designated a Christmas gift “hiding” spot, so that next Christmas I know where to find everything I’ve collected through the year. The problem with shopping early is keeping track of what I’ve bought, so this year I have one spot for everything, and I can keep a list in my Christmas 2016 note, too.
9. I’m adding and updating addresses in my address list as I receive cards from friends and family. For me, the most stressful part of sending Christmas cards is updating the address list, but I do this every year, and it always saves a ton of time.
So, that’s it. I probably could’ve thought of one more thing to make it an even ten, but I want to hear your ideas. What do you do through the year to be ready for Christmas?