You might be thinking July is waaay too soon to be worrying about Christmas. And yet the holidays have a way of sneaking up on us, making us woefully unprepared, stressed out, and utterly tired of running around with a long to-do list and an even longer shopping list.
While it’s decidedly too early to be putting up your Christmas decorations and wrapping presents, there are a few things you can get checked off your list now to make this year’s holiday season preparations more enjoyable and manageable.
1. Take advantage of summer deals
With lots of retailers offering their Black Friday and Christmas in July sales, the summer has great deals on a variety of items, including electronics, clothing and apparel, jewelry, tools, and vacation packages. It’s also a good time for purchasing home décor, including holiday decorations, as many shops and online retailers are starting to plan for their Christmas season and want to downsize their stock of last year’s items.
One smart move is to time your holiday shopping spree with one of the tax-free weekends taking place in July and August in more than a dozen states. (Another? Sign up for the Celebrations Passport to get free shipping on all your orders from the 1-800-Flowers.com Family of Brands.)
2. Get a head start on holiday DIY projects
If you like to make your own holiday gifts or decorations, now is the perfect time to start working on them. Gather your materials, ideas, and plans, figure out what you can make ahead of time and what materials you need to complete the projects, and get started.
The thing about DIY projects is that they tend to take more time then you initially planned, and that’s especially true around the holidays, when you have so many other to-do items on your list. Getting at least some of them done early will not only give you a head start on the holiday season but will make the projects more enjoyable.
Some Christmas DIY ideas include:
- DIY Tabletop Floral Christmas Tree
- DIY Christmas Centerpiece
- DIY Christmas Stocking
- DIY Advent Calendar
3. Create a holiday shopping list & budget
Santa already has his Christmas list. Do you? Starting your holiday shopping list in advance will ensure you don’t forget someone — and that you budget accordingly.
Start with your family and close friends, neighbors, work friends, important clients, teachers, coaches, babysitters, hosts and hostesses, and anyone else you typically buy for.
Don’t forget your kids’ bus driver or car pool drivers, mailman and trash collectors, hairdresser, dog walker, doctor, nurse or caregiver, priest or pastor, church group, carolers, and anyone else you regularly see and want to honor or thank this holiday.
Once you have your list and budget, add a couple of extra gifts (or gift cards) just in case you forgot someone.
You can also use this free downloadable holiday shopping list and budget planner to help you along.
4. Plan your Christmas cards in the summer
While it might be too early to purchase your Christmas cards, this is the perfect time to start planning them, especially if you want your cards to feature a family photo.
Decide on a theme for your photo and get it taken now while the weather is nice and you can get great pictures outside. If you’d rather have a fall or winter backdrop in your photos, book your photography session now before the spots fill up. Figure out what your family will wear, the type of photo you want, and other important details.
5. Test new recipes for your holiday menu
Whether you’re hosting this year or just bringing a dish along, now is the perfect time to research and try out new holiday recipes. Doing this so far ahead of the holiday season will help you not only find the best recipes but give you enough time to perfect them.
Additionally, you can get a good idea of how much time each recipe will take to make, where you’ll need to go to get all the ingredients, and, most important, if your family actually likes it.
6. Make travel arrangements early
The holidays are one of the busiest times of the year for travel, so it makes sense to plan as far ahead as possible.
With so many people being on the move, reservations can dry up quickly, so the earlier you can book, the better. Doing so will allow you to not only get a better price but is a great way to budget the travel costs ahead of all the usual holiday expenses (gifts, decorations, etc.).
7. Start a new family Christmas tradition
The holidays can get a bit hectic, with so much to do, so many places to visit, and so many people to see. That’s why it’s so important to make time for family.
Finding the right Christmas traditions for your family to enjoy year after year is essential. Whether it’s baking cookies together for a cookie exchange, making your own Christmas decorations, sending letters to Santa, having a Christmas movie marathon, hosting an ugly sweater party, going out to see the lighting of the Christmas tree, or caroling in your neighborhood, there are many great ways to spend quality family time during the holidays.
If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, take a look at our list of fun Christmas traditions for kids or ask your friends and loved ones to share their favorite holiday traditions with you. Then decide on what would be fun for your family, plan it out, and put it on your calendar.