…and checking it twice. There are 156 days left until Christmas! That means you’ve let half of the year slip by without planning for the longest holiday season of the year! Okay, so maybe the situation isn’t quite as dire as I make it sound, but now is an excellent time to start checking things off your “to-do list”! Here are a few things we are going to try to do around here in order to make our Christmas season a little more jolly…

1) Start shopping. Spacing out Christmas shopping over the next 6 months will be much easier on your wallet than buying everything between Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Buying about 3 gifts every month will keep budgeting easy and cut down on the usual hustle and bustle of the Christmas shopping season. Every time you buy a gift, put them in a designated area (like the guest room closet). If you tend to have a bad memory (like me) stick a post-it on the item to remind yourself who it’s for.

2) Wrap it up. Go ahead and wrap any presents you buy. Leave the bows off and add them when it’s time to put the gifts under the tree so they’ll look crisp and freshly wrapped. You can find Christmas wrapping paper around this time of year online (Whimsy Press, one of Ash’s favorite paper stores, has all of their holiday paper on sale right now!). Pre-wrapping your presents will save you a ton of time as long as you’re diligent about labeling them as to who they go to and what they are. Otherwise, your presents might be as much a surprise to you as your friends and family!

3) Start preparing the house now. We’re not talking about cleaning, necessarily; just minor repairs and enhancements. Focus on the rooms your guests will spend the most time in, like the guest bedroom(s), the living room and the kitchen. If you’ve got dents, nicks, or scratches to fix, or even minor enhancements you’d like to make to these rooms, now is the time to get them done. Slowly but surely, you can get everything looking picture perfect before they arrive!

4) Be the first to make travel arrangements. Ticket prices aren’t the only reason to make your plans for travel now rather than four months from now. As the holidays approach, you’re going to find it harder and harder to make plans that fit into everyone’s schedules. By scheduling now, you’re sure to be the first person on anybody’s calendar.

5) Make your list. While I’m not typically a big fan of “Christmas lists”, sometimes it’s nice to be able to point to a place where they can check out reasonably and a few not-so-reasonably-priced items (just for fun) on my Christmas wish list. We found when we were moving into our house. We had a lot of family members ask us what we wanted/needed for the house. It’s always kinda awkward — you know what I mean? My mom asked us to make a “wish list” and that got us thinking. After a little Google search, we found And I have to say, it’s a pretty cool website. You can add items from any website and make notes about color, quantity, size, etc. or even where you plan on using it in the house. Whenever someone purchases a gift from your list, it automatically updates it as purchased. One major perk about is you can put a password on your list so you can share it with family members and close friends only. Ash and I have ended up making our own individual lists for each other to work off of – since she dubbed me the “hardest person to shop for”. It makes shopping a little easier and fun too!

6) What’s Aunt Martha’s new address? This shouldn’t take too much time, but when the Christmas season hits, your time becomes even more valuable. Take an hour or two to make up a Christmas card list and talk to the people on that list to make sure you have their current address. If you’re a bit embarrassed to call your long-lost relatives and tell them you have no idea where they are now or how they got there, just call your mom! She’s a mom and she’s bound to have the down low on where and why. Btw, I don’t have an Aunt Martha.

7) Get the party started. On top of presents and travel, you need to think about Christmas parties! Let’s face it: Parties are expensive. By planning out your Christmas party (or parties) now, you can be on the look out for things that will complete your party theme. Like I said before, you can make budgeting your Christmas season much easier by spreading out the cost of your party over the next 5-6 months. Like the Christmas presents, keep all of your party supplies in a designated area so you don’t loose track of them between now and then.

8 ) Pick a family, any family. Along the same lines as travel, you might want to go ahead and start discussing with your significant other whose family you’re going to spend Christmas with. That way, when your family starts asking who you’re going to spend Christmas with, you’ll have an answer and explanation ready to go!

9) Prepare to deck the halls! Take a little time to do an inventory of your decorations. The sooner you know what you have, the sooner you can start designing your tree and general decor. That way, when you see a cool decoration or ornament, you can grab it up, knowing it’s going to go great with your overall style. Also, while you’ve got a few of the Christmas boxes down from the attic, take a few minutes to make sure the lights work. There’s nothing worse than getting your whole tree or worse, your whole house, covered in lights, then realizing half of them don’t work!

10) Create a Savings plan. As a final tip, try your best to set aside a few dollars every paycheck as a Christmas fund. Vacations, presents, and parties, no matter how well you plan them, can still end up costing more than you’d expect. The best way to rack up credit card debt is spending too much at Christmas time. If you’ve set a few bucks aside, you’ll have less to worry about in the long run and have a credit-free Christmas!

Do you have any helpful tip to add to the list? Share it with us in the comment section…

Santa house photo found here.

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  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    I like to get my Christmas shopping done before all the “in your face” Christmas commercials start! I think of better and more meaningful gifts that way.

  • Reply
    Elvie Dutton
    July 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    I do ALL my Christmas shopping on-line now. It’s the only way to go! I get out in the hustle and bustle of the season only to enjoy the atmosphere and maybe pickup a few last minute add on items. You’ve inspired me to get started now.  Thanks!

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Great post, very helpful!

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    I’ve seen a few other posts similar in blogland but not as helpful and practical as yours. I can’t wait to get to work on these things! Thanks for posting!

  • Reply
    Andrea M
    July 21, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Awesome, now I feel guilty for not buying presents yet. LOL Seriously though great tips!

  • Reply
    July 22, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Lots of good tips here; thank you! Re: #9, even if you don’t plan ahead as you recommend, when you do decorate take each string of lights and plug it into test if it does or doesn’t work. Then separate out those that don’t work or only partially light. This way you’re far less likely to get your tree and/or house decorated only to find that light strings are out.

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