When fall rolls around each year, just the thought of prepping for the holidays can bring on waves of stress. It’s the most wonderful time of the year for so many reasons (*ahem* festive libations, friends, and front door décor to name a few), but without a little careful planning, holiday festivities can quickly turn into a messy house, stressful last-minute shopping, and crippling credit card debt. But believe it or not, the holidays don’t have to be this way. (We know, it was a shock to us too.) By prepping for the holidays early—we’re talking like, now—you can look forward to a holiday season that is equal parts festive and stress-free. Trust us on this one! Here are five things you can do NOW to prep for the best holiday season to date…
First things first—get the essentials under your belt. The stores you regularly frequent throughout the year can (and will) get crazy during the holidays, so it’s better to stock up on the things you know you’ll need ahead of time. Most stores start stocking their shelves and websites with holiday gift wrap, decorations, and more the second October or November hit. Even if they aren’t advertising the holidays at the top of their homepage, you can almost always find holiday décor and supplies on your favorite website months ahead of time (if you’re willing to just do a little digging). So get those shopping carts ready, and you won’t have to settle for that ugly “all that’s left” wrapping paper the week before Christmas.
We’ll get to budgeting and finances in just a second, but before you even think about dollar amounts, make sure to put together a “gift list” as soon as possible. Write down all the names of people you need to buy gifts for, including immediate family members, extended family, friends, and coworkers. Having an idea of how many people you need to buy gifts for will set you on the right path for budgeting, and allow you to prioritize. After you’ve made your list, go through and make a guesstimate at how much you’re willing to spend on each recipient. Then, as you get further into the holiday season and start gift shopping, you can check each and every person off your list (without the unwelcome surprise of forgetting anyone important at the last minute!).
Ah, yes. The ever-changing “holiday budget.” We get it. Sticking to a budget during the holidays can be easier said than done. BUT, doing so successfully is also a surefire way to keep holiday stress at bay. Like we said above, a good place to start is by allotting dollar amounts to each person on your gift list. Then, add them up and see if the total is doable for your budget. If not, adjust accordingly. (And if you do have a little wiggle room, feel free to mark down who you can consider splurging on!) Just make sure to factor in how much you’ll need to spend on items outside of gifting—think activities, decorations, travel, and charity—and keep track of your spending as the weeks go by to see how well you’re adhering to your initial budget.
BONUS TIP: Before you spend a single dollar, make sure you pay off your credit card. Looming credit card debt will add an unnecessary layer of stress to your entire holiday season, so it’s best to pay off your balance before the holidays even arrive (if you haven’t been paying it off regularly already).
The holidays are the perfect time to share a life update with those you love and celebrate the season, but hectic schedules can often get the better of us. (Or in other words… ever sent out your Christmas card well into January? You’re not alone.) Take family photos months in advance, and design your holiday cards ASAP. This is often the hardest part—once those two steps are done, dropping them in the mail is a cinch. The same goes for any festive party invites. Make sure to mail your invitations to guests well in advance so they can work your event into their busy holiday schedule, and don’t forget a reminder the week before. (P.S. Paperless Post is a great resource for party invites, and brand new GM holiday cards just dropped…)
We all have those events and traditions on our calendars that we simply can’t miss, no matter the expense. Whether that’s visiting a far-away family member, getting tickets to a festive show, or doing some other activity with loved ones, make sure you schedule these things first. Schedules undoubtedly get crazy during the holidays and things book up fast, so try to make these arrangements as far in advance as possible. This way, when the time comes to make these plans a reality, you can actually enjoy the experience instead of stressing about the who, what, when, where, and how. (BTW, if you’re planning air travel this season, here is how to maximize your airline miles to get the most bang for your buck!)
How do you prep for the holidays each year?
We’d love to hear your personal tips! Shout out at us on social media @GrayMalin so we can get inspired. Happy (early) holidays…
Xx Team GM