Get a head start on the holiday season.

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but the holiday season can also be the most stressful. “So much to do, so little time” is an understatement to dealing with Christmas preparations, and it’s often because we wait too long to get started on buying gifts and planning the festivities. With just less than a year left until the big day, we’ve got some pointers in how you can get started on bringing the Christmas cheer.

  • 1. Start an early Gift List

    Jot down what would make a good gift for someone as soon as it springs into mind, and continue editing your list for the rest of the year. This way you can shop during the sales season without the stress of finding things last-minute.
  • 2. Start saving now!

    Set a Christmas budget, and set aside some money each month or paycheck so that the end-of-the-year shopping is more manageable without putting a dent in your bank account.
  • 3. Get crafty!

    DIY gifts are made from the heart, and often work on a budget. By spending more time on a gift than money, you can spend less on gifts that loved ones will truly appreciate. Of course, we can be of help with ideas.
  • 4. Save Boxes

    Do you do a lot of shopping online or from catalogs? Hold onto the boxes your orders are shipped in--they'll be useful in December for packing oddly-shaped gifts, or can be re-used for shipping gifts to loved ones far away.
  • 5. Clear Clutter & Find Gifts

    Kill two birds with one stone by pairing the hunt for gifts with spring (summer?) cleaning. Clear out the attic or basement, keeping an eye out for gifts. This doesn't need to sound like a shameful re-gifting practice; you might come across a forgotten heirloom a younger generation can enjoy.
  • 6. Grow a gift!

    If you have a fruit or vegetable garden, make some fruit preserves or pickle some vegetables to give to the family later in the year. They'll taste better than storebought!
  • 7. Stock up on Supplies

    Stock up on all the supplies that you'll need for gift wrapping. This includes wrapping paper, tags, ribbon and tape. Buying supplies now means better pricing as well as selection--and no crowds to deal with.
  • 8. Start Keeping a Journal

    Start keeping a journal or list of notable events that have transpired in the past few months, and continue keeping a record until the winter. This will make writing a family card or newsletter all the easier. If you don't send an end-of-the-year Christmas family letter, start now!
  • 9. Cull together Family Photos

    You might want to use one for the family card, and you can organize photos of the most notable events into a family album to show visitors at the Christmas celebration.
  • 10. Organize your Decorations

    It's likely that your bulbs, lights and other decorations are thrown all about in various bags and boxes with no rhyme or reason. Begin organizing it all now to save yourself from a headache or two later.
  • 11. Seek and replace any Broken Decorations

    Test out any strings of lights for the tree. By making your replacements now, you will have a better selection of decorations and won't have to worry about last-minute trips to the store when it comes time to deck the halls.
  • 12. Now's the time for making Travel Arrangements

    Flights booked in advance are very cheap, and a journey planned far in advance will save you from the stress of one of the most-traveled seasons in the country.
  • 13. Find some events to attend as a Family

    Just like booking a trip, it's best to reserve tickets to any festive shows or events well ahead of time. Planned events other than unwrapping the gifts will also add a little bit of structure to the celebration when family members are traveling to meet one another.
  • 14. Keep Family in the Loop

    Talk to other members of the family now to brainstorm who needs to do what and when for a smooth holiday season. Keep everyone on the same page, and together form an itinerary to stick to.
  • 15. Come up with a Christmas theme!

    This is fun for the whole family, and makes each year's celebration unique. Because of the amount of creativity and effort involved, plan this out with plenty of time ahead.