Get a jump on the holidays
With American Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanzaa all falling within weeks of each other, November and December can sometimes be a little hectic as we feverishly attempt to cook, prep, buy, and visit our way through these big and important family celebrations with our sanity in tact. One of the best ways to ensure that the holidays are as stress-free as possible is to plan in advance.
RealSimple has an amazing countdown checklist designed to help you make the holidays a little more manageable and a lot more enjoyable. We’ve summarized the checklist, and added some additional resources to help you sail through the holidays.
Six weeks before (beginning of November)
- Make a master gift list for everyone for whom you plan to purchase presents, and ask children and family members for their wish lists.
- Make a budget. Determine how much you can spend on gifts per person. For a free, online holiday gift budget calculator to help you keep track of spending this year and plan ahead for next, visit Free Online Calculator.
- Start buying presents. Keep a master list so you always know what you’ve purchased in order to avoid accidentally doubling up. For a free, online master gift list template visit Christmas Organized.
One month before
- Do any online shopping to ensure that your presents will be delivered on time.
- Start wrapping! It’s amazing just how long it can take to wrap all those presents you’ve been buying over the last few weeks, so start early. Better yet, wrap as you buy.
- Do a little inventory. Check to make sure you have enough dishes, serving platters and glassware to accommodate your guests, and have a look at your decorations to see if you need to repair or replace any of them.
- If you send out holiday cards and your list of recipients is long, start addressing them now. Check with the post office to determine the send-by date for cards heading out of the country.
Three weeks before (beginning of December)
- Mail your cards to ensure they arrive before the holidays.
- Start decorating. Even if you’re a, “less is more” type of person, it’s still nice to get that job out of the way sooner rather than later. Plus it helps everyone get in the holiday spirit – including you!
- Finalize your menu and write up a master-shopping list. Visit Better Homes and Gardens for a customized holiday menu that matches your personality and entertaining style.
Two weeks before
- Send out any out-of-town gifts by December 10.
- Start shopping for non-perishable food items like canned goods, drinks and pantry staples so that the shopping you have to leave until right before the big day is more manageable.
One week before
- Deep clean your house so you’ll only have to do a light cleaning the day before your company arrives. Make sure to include your refrigerator—you’ll need room for big dishes and leftovers. For a deep cleaning checklist visit Living Well Spending Less.
Three days before
- Shop for fresh ingredients.
- Set the table and figure out what platters and serving dishes you’ll need to use. Give them a wash if they’ve been in storage since last year.
Two days before
- Start cooking. If there’s anything on your menu that can be made in advance and stored in the fridge or freezer, do it today. It’ll make meal prep on the big day much easier.
The day before
- Recharge your camera batteries so you’ll be able to take shots of all the action on the big day!
- Finish up any last minute wrapping and food prep.
- Relax and enjoy! Watch a Christmas special on TV, play Dreidel with your kids, make a Kwanzaa flag bunting to spruce up your mantel —or just sit back with the ones you love and enjoy being together during this happy season.
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