Tasks to Do Now to Prepare for the Holidays

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When it comes to just about everything, both Bridget and I are hardcore type-A girls all that way. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that we’re usually planning for the holidays waaaay in advance. In fact, this year we shot our Christmas card photos in September. Yes, we’re a tad crazy. How to prepare for the holidays ahead of time

And this post is definitely not designed to make you panic or freak out at your looming to-do list. In fact, I’m hoping it does quite the opposite. I’m here to encourage you to prepare for the holidays NOW, so we can all avoid that last-minute panic that sets in and robs us of the holiday spirit come December.Don't get your tinsel in a tangleGetting a few key holiday tasks done ahead of time should help us relax, slow down, and enjoy the magic of the holiday season! I want you to be able to focus on what the upcoming season is all about, making memories with the people you love.

How to Prepare for the Holidays Now

Tips to prepare for the holidays now!

So let’s prepare for the holidays now, so we can do just that!

Update your Address BookA christmas card display over a couch

Before you order your Christmas cards, I think it’s wise to update that little address book of yours. Finn and I keep a google spreadsheet with addresses of our loved ones and try to update it throughout the year when people move. Set aside 30 minutes to go through your address book and make sure you have everyone accounted for. You’ll probably need to send a few emails or texts out to corral updated addresses, so do that now so you’ll get answers in time to order your Christmas cards.

If you’re creating an address list from scratch, it will take some time. But trust me, once it’s complete it will be quick & easy to update each year!

Order your Christmas CardsChristmas cards from Minted

Once you have your address book updated, it’s time to order those holiday cards (you can see last year’s holiday cards right here!)! Plus, you’ll know exactly how many to order thanks to your address list. A lot of companies will now print your address labels on the envelopes for free, so you can simply upload that spreadsheet of yours and all of the address labels will instantly populate. No more handwriting out dozens of envelopes!

We always order our cards ahead of time, so we can put them in the mail right after Thanksgiving! That gives people plenty of time to display and enjoy them. Plus, it’s one less thing to do come December. Stamping Christmas cards for the holiday seasonOh, and one more tip when it comes to Christmas cards. Head to the post office now and buy plenty of stamps! You’ll want to avoid the post office once the holiday craziness begins (lines for days!), so stock up now and avoid a stressful trip in the future.

Upgrade your Baking GearUsing a kitchenaid in a gray kitchen

For my family, the holidays are allllll about the Christmas cookies. Every year my mom throws a big “Cookie Day” party where we invite friends, bake a variety of cookies, and decorate all.day.long. It’s one of my favorite days of the year, and my entire family looks forward to it.

My mom actually bakes dozens of batches in the weeks leading up to the big party, to make sure everyone can take enough cookies home on party day. This year, Finn is helping her get some of the baking done ahead of time. The man just loves to cook and bake on Sundays while watching football (what a keeper!).  New baking sheets and spatulas for the holidays

Because of all of the baking, it’s important to get all of your baking supplies in order now. Our cookie sheets had seen much better days, so I ordered a few new ones from eBay along with some cute Christmas spatulas. I set the filter to “New” because I wanted some sparkly new baking sheets and I used the “Buy It Now” option so I could get them quickly. 81% of the product on eBay is available to buy immediately, and most items ship for free! Now that’s my kinda online shopping. Using a kitchenaid mixer for baking

I’m not the best help in the kitchen, so the least I could do was provide Finn and my mom with a few new baking supplies! And let’s chat about the Kitchenaid mixer for a second. If you don’t have one, holy smokes it’s a gamechanger. No more sore arm from the hand mixer…let me tell ya! My mom and Finn each use a Kitchenaid for their cookie making skills, and they love theirs.Buying new baking supplies for Christmas cookies

If you’re hesitant to spend a lot of money on a brand new Kitchenaid, eBay has a lot of manufacturer refurbished models to choose from (just set the filter to “used” to see the options!). You can save a ton of money buying a mixer that way, so definitely check out their large selection.

Make a “Gift Wrapping Station”White and black gifts wrapped under a tree

I’m not suggesting that you create a whole area in your house to wrap gifts. I certainly don’t have space for a huge craft room like that. Instead, I want you to make a little basket and in it put everything you need to wrap gifts. Gather tape, scissors, ribbon, tags, pen, etc. and put them all in this big basket. Then when it’s time start wrapping gifts, you can grab the basket and get to work wrapping! My wrapping style is usually sitting on the floor while catching up on my favorite TV shows. Black and white gifts with hunter boots

We’re planning to do an entire post on how to wrap the perfect gift, but if you want to take your bow making skills to the next level, be sure to check out this post.

Create a Gift Buying ListHoliday look with a cute present

Now’s the time to make a list of everyone you need to buy for, that way you don’t forget anyone! You can add to this list over the next few weeks as you think of people, and you’ll still have plenty of time to shop til you drop.White stockings and holiday presents

Finn and I use a google doc and we just add a new tab to it every year. It includes who we’re buying for, what our budget is, a space to fill in what we got them, and even a reminder to make sure it’s wrapped and ready! This little checklist keeps us on track and we can look at gifts we’ve given from past years to make sure we don’t ever give the same gift twice. It’s so helpful!

Think of a WishlistGiving gifts for the holiday season

You’re bound to get the question, “what do you want for Christmas” from your parents, spouse, friends, etc. And it’s really not helpful to just tell them to get you anything. Most people like direction and you’ll actually get what you want/need if you give people more specifics. Take some time to peruse your closet and house and make a wish list of items. Then have this list on hand so you can give your mom some ideas to make her shopping a bit easier.

Schedule Your Favorite Holiday TraditionsChristmas trees by the Wrigley building downtown

As I mentioned before, this time of the year is BUSY. That’s why it’s so important for you to take control of your schedule and make time for the things you really want to do. Do you love to go ice skating every season? Put it on your calendar so it doesn’t get pushed aside. Do you want to check out the Christmas lights somewhere special in your town? Schedule that too! Christmas lights and trees in downtown ChicagoIf you don’t pencil in these important holiday traditions now, they may get pushed aside by other holiday parties and obligations. Put them on the calendar and take control of your holiday schedule.

Have a Plan for the Actual HolidayHappiest holla-days

Finally, make a plan for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Who is hosting this year? Where will you be spending your time? If you have a partner, are you with his family or yours? Have this conversation now, so there aren’t any last-minute changes, potential miscommunication, or hurt feelings. How to prepare for the holidays this year!

I hope this post didn’t stress you out too much, instead, I hope it excited you to prepare for the holidays now!

And don’t worry, you still have plenty of time! Remember if you tackle even a few items on this list, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself a bit more come December. Let’s make this holiday season one to remember!


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.