No, in all honesty, this is kind of a hefty post – because getting ready for the holidays is no easy task. But my goal is to make it 110% stress free. Where’s the joy in giving gifts, visiting with family, and celebrating the season if all you do is freak out about it? I have a pretty terrible habit of completely forgetting what I’ve been intending to give people all year round, mostly because I get so distracted. Add pregnancy brain to the mix and you get a full fledged holiday disaster.
Start in October.
- Set a budget. If you don’t have a particular budget in mind, then it’s easy to say you can shop for as many people as you want. So yes, you could start by making a list of all the people you want to get gifts for. But more than likely, your Christmas shopping budget isn’t unlimited, so it helps to start with the money first, then decide who’s getting a present vs. maybe some homemade cookies.
- Make a list, check it twice. I like to sort my gift recipients into categories. For example, your kids may get multiple gifts, your mom might get one substantial gift, and your coworkers will get a little something to say, “hey, thanks for making work not totally awful.”
Group One: Want, Need, Read. I usually use this for close family members and kids. I learned the concept from Amber Fillerup Clark – she shops for Christmas for her kids in a similar way. The way I like to shop is to get 1-2 things they need, like clothes, 1-2 things they want, like toys, and something to read.
Group Two: Big Love. For my sisters, mom, and mother in law, I usually want to give one substantially sized gift that really comes from the heart. Something that they’ve been wanting for a while, rather than a bunch of little things that don’t mean as much.
Group Three: Stocking Stuffers. These are the smaller gifts to show everyone else in your life that you’re thinking of them.
- Get inspired. Around July, I have a ton of ideas about what I want to give everyone for Christmas. Come November, I cannot think of a single idea for anyone. Why do I do this to myself? Keep a note on your phone (there are even password protected Christmas list apps to keep everything a secret!) and make it a point to have conversations about what projects and experiences your loved ones might be looking forward to now. By Christmas, they’ll forget and be surprised all over again!
Before Christmas shopping gets really crazy, I like to just browse the aisles and Pinterest boards to get creative ideas, especially for stocking stuffers. Get on emails lists to scope out sales, especially with the MOTHERLOAD of all stocking stuffers, Bath and Body Works. Plus, I’ve been working on compiling lists of great holiday content from other bloggers, too – gift giving guides for moms, MILs, coworkers, boyfriends, dads, kids, and everyone in between.
- Get specific. Go back to your list and start creating links to exactly what you want to buy, with the prices written next to each item so you can stay on track with your budget.
- Start buying. She’s making a list, and checking it twice. Or three times. I like to look back at each items about three times before I buy, just in case I get inspired with a better idea. By the third look, your items may have gone on sale, but don’t wait too long! The closer you get to Black Friday and full swing Christmas shopping, the more likely they are to sell out.
- Plan out your decor. I’m trying out a more clean and simple holiday decorating philosophy this year – not that I’m considering dwindling down on decorations. Every year, I tend to get excited about what I see in stores and decide to go in an entirely different direction with my Christmas decorations. But the best part about decorating for the holidays is opening up the boxes of past decor and remembering all the special moments associated with older things. With the new house, I’m setting a budget for all of our new decor, and making an effort to only buy things that spark JOY. Thanks, Marie Kondo!
- Have fun with it. I love to give Christmas cookies, and I’m thinking about hosting an intimate Christmas tea party for my family this year. It’s the start of a lot of new Christmas traditions that we’re sorting out in our first year of marriage, but the one I’m looking forward to the most in the cookie dough! We’re making a date night (or three) out of making and freezing cookie dough for the holidays.
- Map out your sales. There will inevitably be things that you have to pay full price for, and I try to tackle those items first. But if you have items left before all the big sales, there’s still time to map out your attack on the malls, virtual and otherwise. I can’t handle Black Friday, especially when I’m nearly 8 months pregnant. But Cyber Monday is my GIRLLLL.
THE TIME IS NIGH. Happy December!
- Put some thought into your wrapping. I like all my Christmas gift wrap to match my decor so everything looks well put together while they sit under the tree. Go through your pins, craft, and order your supplies on Amazon or find them at the dollar store to keep your costs low.
- Plan the gift giving. Whip out your planner and map out your Christmas parties, last days of work before vacation, family get togethers, and more so you know exactly when and where you need to have your gifts ready.
- Make time to give back. Even if it’s something as simple as cleaning out my old winter clothes for donation, I make it a point to give back around the holidays. But remember, this is the most popular time of year to volunteer. Come January, many people move on from the “season of giving” and go right back to business as usual. If you want to make a difference when it really matters, consider volunteering at a soup kitchen or donating to a food bank later in the winter when the need is far greater.