Tasks To Do Now To Prepare For The Holidays

When it comes to just about everything, I’m very type-A all the way. So it shouldn’t surprise you that I’m usually planning for the holidays well in advance. In fact, we shot our Christmas card photos in early September. Here’s a sneak peek…

How to prepare now for the holidays

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.

Our best gift wrapping tips and how to prepare for the holidays

Getting 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

Our holiday gift guide 2021

So let’s prepare for the holidays now, so we can enjoy the magic between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here are the things that I like to accomplish in early November…

Update your Address Book

Order your Christmas cards ahead of time

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 the 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. 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 and easy to update each year! We like having ours on Google drive because we can each edit it and share access.

Order your Christmas Cards

How to prepare for the holidays...order your cards now!

Once you have your address book updated, it’s time to order those holiday cards. I’m a big fan of Minted. 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. 

Be sure to order plenty of stamps

Oh, 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.

Make a “Gift Wrapping Station”

My best tips to prepare for the holidays

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, or get fancy with this wrapping organizer, and put in everything you need to wrap gifts. Gather tape, scissors, ribbon, tags, pen, etc., and put them all in this container. It’s also a good time to take stock of what you have and buy anything you’re low on.

Then, when it’s time to start wrapping gifts, you can grab the basket and get to work wrapping! My wrapping style is usually sitting on the floor, after the kids are in bed, while catching up on my favorite TV shows. Having a portable gift-wrapping station is key.

Wait to cut your ribbon

If you need some gift-wrapping help, my mom wrote this blog post with all of her best gift-wrapping tips. She truly is the Queen of Christmas! Plus, you can check out your bow-making tutorial right here.

Create a Gift Buying List

Santa letterfolk for Christmas

Now’s the time to make a list of everyone you need to buy a gift for. That way, you won’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.

Casey with a gift for Christmas

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 in past years to make sure we don’t ever give the same gift twice. It’s so helpful!

I created a super simple downloadable version of what we use. Just click here and then go to “File” and “Download” to save it to your own computer. You can then create a new tab for every year, so you can reference gifts you’ve given.

Think of a Wishlist

My 2020 Christmas Home Tour

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.

You can also create an Amazon wishlist and just send the link to that! Sometimes we do that for our kids so we have a running list of the things they want and need.

Schedule Your Favorite Holiday Traditions

How to prepare for the holidays in November

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 cookie decorating

If 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. And if you need some help with ideas for your own family traditions, my mom wrote this post detailing all of ours!

Have a Plan for the Actual Holiday

Our 2020 Christmas home tour

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. 

Adding reds stockings to a fireplace
My Mom’s Christmas Home Tour

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

Tasks to do now to prepare for the holidays

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!

how to prepare for the holidays

One more thing, my annual holiday gift guide debuts in less than two weeks! I can’t wait to share it with you…


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The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.