Holiday Planning

Your Ultimate Holiday Planning List

The holidays are right around the corner! It may feel like it was just yesterday that you wrapped the presents, trimmed the tree, and sang the carols. Yet, in a few short months, you'll do it all again. While holiday planning can be exciting, it's no secret that it can also be more than a little stressful. That's why it pays to be prepared!

Here's our quick guide to help you get ready for the most wonderful time of the year, one step at a time.

Three to Six Months Away: Make Entertaining Plans
By at least October, you should have your major holiday plans solidified. This means figuring out where you'll be spending your time off, and who you'll be with. This year, your plans might be a little pared down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that's OK. If you have a small gathering, you can plan for an intimate dinner party, complete with twinkle lights and a special menu. If your gathering is a little larger, consider having an alfresco lunch in your backyard, where distancing is easy and the view is beautiful. Yet, before you plan those details, take care of the major logistics. Key questions to ask include:

-Will you visit your family or your partner's family?
-How many people will be there?
-Do you have to travel far?

Two Months Away: Schedule Holiday Events, Order Holiday Supplies, and Order Holiday Cards
Around the middle of October, you can create your holiday checklist and start prepping for some of the preliminary items. Let's take a look at a few of the most important tasks to complete this month.

Schedule Family Activities
Take control of your holiday commitments by keeping track of them on a shared family calendar. This can be a physical one you keep in a common spot, like your kitchen. Or, you can also find myriad family calendar apps that everyone can update on their smartphone. From school parties to neighborhood gift exchanges, it's important to know what's scheduled, so you don't over-extend yourself. By mid-October, you should have a fairly clear idea of your upcoming engagements, so go ahead and pencil them in!

Get Addresses Ready
You did your hair, balanced the baby on your hip, dealt with fussy toddlers, and made your husband wear a festive sweater. You worked for those holiday cards, and you deserve to show them off! Take the time to go through your list of recipients and note any changes that need to be made, such as:

-Anyone who moved
-Anyone who got married
-Anyone who had children

Update the list as required to make sure that it's accurate. Not sure where to turn for one-of-a-kind, sustainable Christmas cards that reflect your personal style? We offer custom designs you can feel good about!

Start Looking for Supplies
You don't want to wait until the week before the holidays to start shopping for the essentials, such as:

-Wrapping paper
-Party decorations
-Plates, silverware, napkins

Many stores will put these items out right after Halloween ends, and you can snag some great deals by browsing early. Go ahead and start stockpiling the things you know you'll need, such as tissue, ribbons, and gift tags!

Six Weeks Away: Plan Gift Giving and Set a Budget
Ideally, you'll buy gifts for everyone all throughout the year, so you can enjoy the weeks leading into the holidays. Yet, research reveals that only 16% of Americans take this approach. Instead, 42% wait until around late November or early December to start getting their gifts in order. If you're just now starting, that's OK. Here's how to approach this part of your checklist.

Make a Gift List
Go ahead and make a master gift list, and write down what you plan to give everyone on it. You might not know every item just yet, but jot down their general interests and latest obsessions. These notes can help guide your quest as you hit the store looking for the perfect present. One more thing that can help give direction to your search? A budget! Write down what you plan to spend on each person, and give yourself a limit so you don't wander too far away from those parameters.

One Month Away: Shopping, Home Decor, and Baking
You've prepared for weeks. Now, it's time to kick your holiday planning into full gear. Right after Thanksgiving, do the bulk of your online shopping. While some companies can deliver in days, others could take a few weeks. Then, it's time to get your house holiday-ready. Get your decorations down from the attic and take stock of everything you have. Check for the following issues:

-Do all of your Christmas tree lights work?
-Are any of your ornaments broken?
-Do you need to deep-clean anything?

Start Baking and Freezing
You can't exactly make the big-day ham ahead of time. However, there are plenty of items that you can go ahead and bake now. From pies and cookies to cakes and casseroles, you can find a variety of items that are a cinch to make. Just prepare them according to the recipe, pop them in your freezer, and defrost them a few hours before your family dinner.

Three Weeks Away: Deck the Halls
Finally! It's time to decorate. The first week of December is a perfectly acceptable time to bring out the fake Christmas tree and start adorning it with handmade crafts, ornaments, and sparkly tinsel. If you're planning to buy a real tree, this is the time to do so.

While you have plenty to keep your hands full, remember to mail your Christmas cards. If you can't get them done by now, you can always save the design and turn it into a New Year card once the holiday frenzy subsides.

One Week Away to the Big Day: Clean and Prepare
One week before your holiday gathering, give your house a deep-clean. While you're at it, wipe down your refrigerator shelves and make room for those inevitable leftovers that are sure to come soon.

Around two days before, start preparing any food items that will keep well in your fridge until it's time to eat. This can include your main courses, such as turkey or ham. Put fresh flowers on the table and finish any last-minute prep work you need to complete. This way, you'll be able to relax when it's time to enjoy the fruits of your labor!