Thinking Ahead for the Holiday Season

The photos here are the ones I took when I was cleaning the lens and testing my camera settings. I couldn’t help but find them amusing when I found them this morning on my computer. Seems more real than carefully-constructed shots.

Can we talk about Christmas? I am always reluctant to bring it up before Thanksgiving. I don’t want anyone to groan.

I was thinking about it because lately I have been stretched so thin. It’s all good stuff, but with deadlines and projects, I wondered how I could fit Christmas hoopla into the mix.

There was the one Christmas when I decided I didn’t want to do a bunch of preparing, I just wanted to show up for it, and I did. (I didn’t know I was pregnant until two days before Christmas, and then it all made sense.)

Other Christmases I made some of the gifts, but the idea of having that much time now seems so foreign, it might as well be another planet.

The way things are this year, I thought about, “What is the one thing I can do now to make Christmas easier, to enjoy it instead of feeling the pressure of deadlines?”

I decided that one thing this year is to get the presents bought and wrapped early. That will relieve some of the pressure so I can feel free to enjoy the festivities and traditions. My goal is to have all the gifts taken care of and wrapped before Thanksgiving. I’m declaring it here, so that means I have to do it.

Shopping early is better than shopping late, and even though it’s mildly annoying to see Christmas signs so early in the stores, that can help me reach my goal. It will be better than shopping with the crowds and crowded parking lots. If I can’t buy my gifts within the next couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, then I’m probably making it harder than it should be. And I want them to be wrapped as well because that means the gift is ready and I won’t do any second-guessing.

In other news, I made soup. Soup in a mug is my go-to lunch. (When you find something that works, stick to it.) One pot of soup made on the weekend is enough to reheat for lunches all week long.

Will you be doing anything to get ready for Christmas ahead of time?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. Yes! Yes! Yes! I get all our Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving each year. Wrapping too. It is so nice to not have to worry about it and I can avoid the malls during the month of December. It takes a little more planning but is so worth it. I hope it works out for you too!

    • This is a great idea. I did this last year, and it made a big difference in how stressful the holidays were (not).

      Another point for Christians: Advent is a time of spiritually preparing, and the Christmas season doesn’t technically start until Christmas day. So I know that at least the Catholic Church recommends trying to minimize how much of the material work is done during Advent itself. Obviously some work is pleasurable, like baking or decorating (for some people), but most people find the sum total of the shopping and wrapping to be a drain. I did have a better, more spiritual Advent when I got my shopping done before it started.

      This year I have to because I’m due with baby #2 at the beginning of January. Gotta love Amazon Prime!
      MightyMighty´s last post…A poem: One of the World’s Oldest Languages

  2. This is exactly what we are doing this year!!!! December WILL be full of relaxed fun and actual enjoyment of the season with our family…. not the stress of stores and all other last minute craziness going on until Christmas morning.

  3. As much as I would LOVE to get all of my shopping done before Thanksgiving, my boys are constantly changing their minds about what they want, so as far as they’re concerned, it’s difficult to do much ahead of time.

    However, I do start thinking and looking around for gifts for other family members. We do alot of shopping online, and while it’s convenient, sometimes I’d just like to go out shopping myself to get in the spirit of the holiday. And for once, I may have that opportunity in early December, so I’m going to take advantage of it.

    I look forward to hearing if you are successful in your endeavor.

  4. I’ve actually been making Advent calendars for some of the people on my gift list. This has been fun b/c it front ends the holiday season thanks to its starting deadline, gives the recipient a little something every day in December, and allows for a smaller/cheaper ‘proper gift’ come Christmas Day.
    Juliette´s last post…3 DIYs I’m dying to try

  5. You read my mind! I was out running errands yesterday, and the crowds were already annoying, so I made a goal to have all my Christmas shopping done by December 1st!

    And, my other goal is to get our photo cards finished and ordered this week. Then addressed and sent out also by December 1st.

    Then all of December will be wide open for cookie baking…my favorite part!!
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…A Nitpicky Review

  6. I’ve been keeping an eye out for Christmas presents already too, although I only have one person to buy for: my boyfriend. Last year, my family decided to do charitable donations instead of presents, and it was the best holiday-related decision we ever made. Although I am thinking of making everyone a calendar starring the dog…

    (Also, I used that exact same “R” mug for 3 years at work until I accidentally dropped it last month! It holds just the right amount.)
    Becs´s last post…Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

    • We just decided to do this as well. We are volunteering on Christmas day for an organization in town that serves the working poor and homeless.

      My husband and I are also mailing our “Christmas Letter” early this year. We are announcing our intentions to volunteer instead of spending money in our new Autumn Letter and mailing (or emailing) to everyone by the 15th of this month.

      Today I was out in the stores and for the first time IN YEARS the Christmas stuff didn’t bother me. I am loving our new traditions already!

  7. I just found out I’m pregnant, and for the first time can understand what you mean about that one Christmas! So… tired….

    I love love Christmas and made my Christmas cards this past weekend (while listening to Christmas music, I’ll admit). I also enjoy buying early, particularly because so many people are difficult to buy for. I definitely save money taking the time to think about things.

    My in-laws have changed how they do Christmas this year– we’re just doing stockings, which we all contribute smaller personal gifts, some wrapped, most not. They are so much fun to open each year, and I think focusing on them more will be even more fun! (And so much less pressure!)

    • That’s what my husband and I did last year. Just stockings. We had so much fun doing it that we’ve decided to do it each year. We had one rule. It had to fit in the stocking. I hope you enjoy it!

  8. I guess great minds think alike! I’m planning on getting all of my shopping done before Dec 1st. I was at the mall last weekend and it was already crazy. I plan on taking one day during the week to get all of my gifts so that I can relax and really enjoy the season.
    Brenda Nicholson´s last post…What Are We Teaching Our Children?

  9. Yes! I’ve done this for at least 10 years and it’s the best! In my case I love to enjoy Advent, which really has nothing to do with presents. To enjoy Advent I need to know all the presents are done and done! Then you can make cookies, candles, go to parties, sing Advent songs, sleep enough in that dark month, and never glance at the ad section of the newspaper.

  10. I don’t have to actually do the shopping ahead in order not to feel stressed- just the list making!! This year, I have a Google doc with gift ideas for the hardest people to shop for, and an amazon wishlist set up called “Christmas present ideas” Using the universal wish list, I can put stuff from all over the web, even stuff from brick and mortar stores, if it’s listed on their website. A little before Christmas, I’ll look through it and make my final decisions – if something’s on sale, that might push me over the edge, if something’s not in stock, I’ll get something else from the list or search for a similar item. When I shop early, I always worry that I’ll find something perfect once I’ve already shopped, or I’ll find it for a better price, or that someone will have trouble returning something. This seems to be the perfect system for me.

  11. I also like to buy presents early. I don’t enjoy shopping, but I do like choosing and giving gifts. I like to plan ahead, make sure that I am giving meaningful, nice things (not a last minute grab) and to spread the cost out over a couple of credit card cycles. We don’t spend a lot and keep our gifts fairly simple, but it all still adds up quickly. I also have some big projects in mind: felt food for my daughter and some homemade pajamas for both kids, so we will see how much I get to. I would love to make more, but I know that even these projects are going to be a stretch.

    I love soup too. And sandwiches — most any kind as long as it has provolone cheese. Between the two, I am always content :)

  12. I have had Christmas purchased by Thanksgiving for the past several years. It has simplified my Decembers and I enjoy the season so much more!

    One thing I did the first couple of years was overbuy for a few people since I was finished so early. So now I keep a list of what I have purchased in my planner written on Christmas Day. Then, when the urge to purchase the perfect item strikes me, I check the list to make sure that I haven’t already bought a perfect gift for them.

    If it’s truly another perfect gift, I buy it and make a note on their birthday that I already have a gift for them.

  13. This isn’t really preparing. But we made the decision not to travel for any holidays this year. This is the first time ever we will be home, but with a baby who will be 5.5 months I was having anxiety attacks every time I started thinking about it. So we are staying home and gifts will be minimal. We’ll still purchase for our family round robin after thanksgiving by, but we get a list for that and will order online and have delivered to my sister. And the baby is getting his Christmas present early for his four month birthday this week so as to get maximum use of the jumper.

  14. for years i completed most of my shopping before thanksgiving. but now i find myself with more time and actually looking forward to the holidays for the first time in awhile. i think i’ll begin shopping after thanksgiving and take it slow. go with only one child at a time and set reasonable goals. also, less huge gifts and more meaningful ones. we’ll see how it goes. ;)

    • LeeAnn Balbirona says:

      I have slowed down Christmas also. :) I used to try and hurry up and get things done before Advent began so I could “enjoy the holidays,” but that came with its own stresses. In the past few years, what has worked for me is to simplify the whole holiday radically (it magically makes my calendar busy without my help anyway) and accept that some years will be more exciting and action-packed and some will be more relaxed and spontaneous. I’m OK with not pulling out the decorations until December 23. We usually keep on celebrating right through New Year’s and Epiphany anyway, so the fun isn’t over for many weeks. For my kids, I am buying one thing they each really want and then just waiting and seeing if anything else really needs to be purchased or comes my way. Stockings, of course, will be filled by Santa with sweet treats mainly. I did buy my first Christmas gift online today because of your post though! Thanks for the motivating push. :-)

  15. It’s such a good idea!

  16. We’re planning ahead for Christmas this year, mainly because we’re travelling to spend Christmas with family this year. Our first Christmas together in 6 years, and one with all the kids and grandkids under the same roof…. I can’t wait!! To get ready for the craziness, we’re getting all the gifts bought, wrapped and packed to go before the end of November. I’m bringing in all our Christmas decorations this week, since we won’t be here for the actual day, I’m keeping it to a minimum. We’re decorating our tree here (we’re cutting it a little close to the day of for it to be reasonable to expect to decorate the one at my Mom’s) and our advent calendar will go up, and I think that’s it. We won’t be home until the new year, and I really don’t want to have to deal with taking everything down right after getting back from a long trip.
    Normally, aside from gifts, I don’t think about Christmas much until December 1st. I bring our decorations in the week before to let them thaw, but nothing even comes out of the box until December 1st. Once December comes though it’s a free for all, I play Christmas music and spend weeks putting up the decor a little bit at a time. I’m going to miss that this year, but on the flip side I get to spend my favorite holiday with my whole family!!! Totally worth the early planning and all that stuff.

  17. Great post- I feel out of breath coming out of Halloween and where we are hosting Thanksgiving, am trying to think about how to keep the stress from ruining one of my favorite seasons.

    I had one stroke of inspiration this year that I hope will pay off: when I was ordering bulbs for the garden i took advantage of a bulk discount to order a dozen paper white bulb gift sets (with bulb and pot in a little box). I plan to give these to teachers, office mates, my husband’s aunts and all those other non-kid gifts that I always suddenly remember right after I thought I was all done. If I get inspired and get baking I will supplement with some cookies, otherwise I won’t. I really hope this will ease a lot of December angst.

    We also went to our local open studios this past weekend and I bought a couple crafts from local artists, which is always so much nicer than a mall – this is the open studios season, folks should see what’s going on around them!

    I also try to jot down gift ideas on my phone as they strike, so when the time comes I have some thoughts at the ready… sometimes helps, not always.

    what I always WISH i did was keep a list of what i gave people in the past, because i sometimes wonder if i am repeating myself…

    • Bubu – I am a crazy list maker and for the last several years I’ve kept a list of what I bought everyone for birthdays and Christmas. Now I go so far as to keep a list of what my daughter receives and what I receieve every year. It helps me see where and when I go over budget (if I do) so I can be mindful for the following year. I’m sure everyone thinks I’m crazy…and those who know me, know I am :)

      • Sheila- where do you keep the list? I’m afraid I’d forget about it or lose it, and then what good is it?

        • I keep the list on a flash drive that goes with me everywhere (it has a million other things on it too). For the current year I have a notebook in my purse where I write everything. Once the season/year is over (because it’s for birthday’s too) I put the list on the word document and I’m all good. As I said, I’m a bit over the top when it comes to lists/record keeping. I know it’s not for everyone.

  18. To be honest, we just sort of forgo mass gift-giving altogether. I do choose gifts for my husband, but the rest of the family usually gets a simple gift that is the same, but individualized for that family. For example, I’m giving out cute ornaments this year with each family’s last name. Uniform, but also unique, and a whole lot less headache for me.
    jennie´s last post…One Holiday Request from Me

  19. We are preparing for a more simple holiday this year by compiling every activity that I know is coming, and selecting this week what we will choose as to participate in. This is the first year we have consciously decided to put in quiet family time, instead of just “fitting it in.” I am hoping this is a good thing for us.

  20. I love waiting until the last minute to buy gifts. In fact we usually do all of our shopping after flying to my parents for Christmas. This year I need to think ahead though. We recently bought our first house and I stopped working so our budget is different this year. I plan to start shopping now, sales and thrift stores, to help with spread things out money-wise. I just hope i will be able to find all the gifts that will be stashed around the house come Christmastime!

  21. Ahh, last year I wildly declared that I would have all Christmas-ing done not by Thanksgiving, but by Shoebox week! I may have to modify that a little, I think. I will be following your advice to WRAP gifts, however: it makes great sense to me to have them wrapped and declared finished. Enjoy your November prep!

    • LeeAnn Balbirona says:

      Be careful to store the wrapped gifts carefully though or you may find yourself having the headache of re-wrapping them again just before Christmas. One year I used particularly cheap wrapping paper and most of the corners wore through from being moved around a few times in the closet.

  22. Since getting married December 15th ten years ago, and getting back from our honeymoon just a few days before Christmas that year everything had to be done early. I just kept doing it that way. Currently I have all the presents my daughter could ever need in a tote in the basement waiting to be wrapped, which I plan to do soon while she’s at school. If she comes up with something “new” that she wants I can tell a family member and they can consider buying it. (She’s 4, she wants everything) I have a preliminary Christmas card on tinyprints.com and I just need to write the text, get them printed and I’m all set. Decorating will happen after Thanksgiving, but we actually have to get a new “faux” tree this year so we’re hoping to do that this weekend. I should have plenty of time for Christmas magic with the family.

  23. Yep! We do the majority before Christmas, but we get the last of it done on Black Friday. My husband and I have done this every year except last year ( my baby was two weeks old) and we love it! I feel like it’s the last hurrah, and then I can wrap and have it all done.

  24. It is NEVER too early to start thinking about Christmas! I have two family birthdays in December, so to enjoy them – as birthdays – and to enjoy how I like to Celebrate Christmas, too, I am always thinking about presents…reserving time for Christmas Eve and the day before to go out into the crowds and just ENJOY the season and the atmosphere! It is most enjoyable when I don’t have to be hunting for that “one more perfect gift”, but I can add to someone’s pile if I find the perfect thing serendipidously!
    Cindy´s last post…Growing Old – Texture Tuesday – "Two"

  25. It’s a great idea to start your shopping early! I have and usually try to as it really frees me up as the big day gets closer. I so relate to the second guessing of purchases, you are right the key is to wrap and tick it off the list forever :). Happy shopping!

  26. This is hard for me because I love planning ahead, but I LOVE Fall and Thanksgiving, so I don’t even want to think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving. I like to savor all of the wonderful details of each holiday as they come!

    That said, last year I bought family gifts after Christmas for half off. And because nobody really “needs” anything, I rounded off the family gifts with a donation to World Vision in each person’s honor. (The World Vision Gift Catalog is a wonderful thing!) So my Christmas shopping is already finished. And the wrapping, which I love to do, will be enjoyed once the Christmas decorations are up and the Christmas music is piping throuhout the house. :)

    One other thing that helps me enjoy the Christmas season, is to clean and declutter BEFORE getting out all of the decorations. It is nice to start with a clean slate and makes the decorating more enjoyable and less chaotic.

  27. We tend to not shop until December, but we only buy for a few, and several are family gifts, so it is not too much out and about. (last year we gave our daughter’s family with 6 children an annual membership at a local theme park/natural attraction).
    One thing I will do is decorate a little earlier. I tend to wait until the week or 2 before, but will do my best to decorate early. College kid will be here on Dec 4 & 5th, we should decorate then.
    I also want to wrap whatever presents I get EARLY and not wait until Christmas Eve.
    Bernice
    Living the Balanced Life´s last post…Depression is a Sneaky Little Liar

  28. We moved from our condo (short sale pending) into a 2 BR apt last month. As I packed, I shopped my house for gifts, as I was laid off in June and don’t have money for gifts this year. I was able to find good stuff to give to family and daughter’s friends! And last night I was playing Bing Crosby and The Tenor Christmas CDs and wrapping gifts! And then you wrote about it. Cool.

  29. The soup looks good! Is it tomato? Gotta recipe? Yum!
    Lisa Medley´s last post…Undone

  30. My Christmas order was actually delivered this morning. I’ve got everything sorted and almost ready to be wrapped. I still have a few small things to complete each gift, but I can get those next week. And the best part is that almost everything will be paid for in CASH!! because I thought ahead last year and started using the envelope method to save up all year long. I say “almost” because we had a couple of small unplanned gift-giving needs come up and we had to dip into the Christmas fund to cover them. Hopefully we won’t go over budget too much :)

  31. I never understood soup mugs until I saw yours by your computer – now it makes sense! My kids will LOVE drinking pureed soups out of mugs. Note to self.

    My one thing this year was focusing on each individual’s birthday with a special gift and attention. This Christmas I plan to do mass gifts then (outside my immediate family). Things like homemade edibles or something generic. In the past, I got paralyzed when I tried to be thoughtful about every single person on my list.
    Margo´s last post…I Need a Sauerkraut Crock

  32. I just pulled out my family advent book and was mentally planning each Sunday meal and where to put the wreath. A little planning ahead and I know we are going to have a wonderful Christmas!

  33. I know our Christmas will be different this year. We have relocated from Europe, so that half of the family will not be so much part of the festivities. We will probably keep some of the traditions, but not all.

    We also need a new tree – did you know that most artificial are produced in China and contain lead? So we are buying American for sure.

    Soup is a great idea. I love it. It is not only nutritious and easy, but prepares the stomach for the second course. In fact, I could use some right about now.

  34. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here, but I plan to have all gifts that need to be bought (mostly for the kids) ordered online by the end of the month, it’s cheaper and much easier for me.

    Most other gifts will be homemade and I plan to start this month and finish some in December. I’ve already ordered all supplies, so I’m hoping to start next week. I also took a week off end of November/beginning of December so that might make it a bit easier to be prepared.

    The biggest thing that has helped simplify holidays over here has been our tradition to give an annual (170 page) photo book to the grandparents and close friends, so that I only need small additional gifts that are either homemade or handmade by other (more talented people) on Etsy and similar sites. And I actually enjoy buying these handmade items or making things myself.

    I’ve also taken to food gifts such as Skillet Toffee and other things that can be made in batches ahead of time, wrapped nicely and given to friends and acquaintances.

    Oh, and of course I start making lists by September… Crazy, but it helps me feel prepared. Gift and project ideas get bookmarked all year and stored in an Evernote folder.

    What also works for me it to pick one easy type of packaging, such as kraft paper, pretty stamps, baking twine in red/white and homemade tags using a punch with scalloped edges.

    Loved that post about just showing up for Christmas, btw!
    Swenja

  35. I love to get as much done ahead of time as possible, including wrapping the gifts as I buy them. I look for gifts throughout the year so that I’m not in a time crunch right before the holidays and wondering what in the world I’m going to get for that certain person. It also allows me to buy on sale – which is even better. I just picked up a great little herb garden set for $2.50 because they were on clearance – perfect gift for a specific friend! :-)

    And as you can see from my most recent blog post, I’m not afraid to bring up Christmas before Thanksgiving – although I’m all over making sure that Thanksgiving gets it’s fair share of time! :-)
    Carrie @ Busy Nothings´s last post…The Stockings Were Hung :: Stockings and Other Traditions

  36. And by the way, if you love soups, have you discovered the most amazing soup cookbook ever?! I HIGHLY recommend that you pick up a copy of “300 Sensational Soups” – I don’t know the women who wrote it, I don’t get a kick back from it, I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the recipes in this book! The Lasagna Soup hooked me from the first, but I keep trying new recipes and I haven’t hit upon a bad one yet. Well worth the money (you can get them for under $10 at Amazon)!! I’ve been giving copies away for gifts – hey, another great Christmas gift idea! :-)
    Carrie @ Busy Nothings´s last post…The Stockings Were Hung :: Stockings and Other Traditions

  37. I started making gifts for my husband’s kitchen staff way last spring. I decided to get them done early because he has a habit of springing this on me at the last minute (they’ve only been on his Christmas list the past few yrs), sending me into a panic trying to find inexpensive, yet worthy gifts.

    Most are getting knit caps, some scarves.

    The rest of my list are being noodled around in my head.

  38. I have that same R mug and am drinking from it now!

    I’m swamped swamped swamped with work from now until Thanksgiving. Nevertheless, yesterday I thought that I should start prepping a mailing list for Christmas cards, which involves the following steps: (1) Deciding who will get an e-card (almost everyone) and who will get an actual card. (2) Assembling and checking the mailing lists. (3) Printing out mailing labels for those few who will get actual cards. (4) Asking my brother-in-law if he’s willing to take a family photo at Thanksgiving. And that’s all. (There’s more to it, of course, but I can’t do any of the rest until we have the actual photo.) One advantage to taking on this task now is that it’s a job I can do bit by bit. Another advantage is that it’s the task that I dread and tend to put off. Why not take care of it now? The shopping is never a problem, because I do most of it online and don’t buy many presents anyway. And I enjoy it! Save that part till later, I say!
    Rachael´s last post…{Almost} Wordless Wednesday: Saying “Yes” and “No”

  39. I’m attempting to use the Flylady system to “Cruise through the holidays.” Technically I should have all of my gifts bought by now, but that just isn’t happening. I’m trying, and I have some bought. I also have some to make still. As long as I get everything shipped out on time I should be just fine. It’s all the Thanksgiving prep that is keeping me busy, along with regular life stuff and university.
    AmandaonMaui´s last post…Pancakes, Blackberries, Maui and Friends

  40. I keep a Google Doc spreadsheet of all the people we need to get holiday gifts for. I have a column for names, a column for occasion (not all are Christmas gifts, some are hostess gifts, and we even use the spreadsheet for holiday-time birthday gifts just to make things simpler for us)., the amount actually spent, amount budgeted, gift bought, and gift ideas. Throughout the year I’ll put something into the gift idea column as I think of it (usually with a link to the item as I tend to shop online). I make sure to write down what gift was actually bought (so I don’t duplicate in the future). The amount spent and amount budgeted columns are set up so that they add up at the bottom and we can make sure we’re staying on track. The great thing is that I can just copy it after Christmas and start again for the next year, using the leftover gift ideas and passing them forward.

  41. I have the same goal every year, but never reach it. I’m feeling motivated to try again after reading your post, though. One thing I’ve also been tossing around is a “favorite things” Christmas. I thought of jotting down all of my/my families favorite things (games, books, snacks, soaps, shampoos, etc.) and then buying gifts for people by using our favorite things list. I’d include a little note with the gift about why it’s one of our favoirte things. This would take the guesswork out of gift giving for many on our list. Anyway, Best wishes!

  42. Hmmm….I think I am very hands off about the Christmas season. We don’t buy gifts. We also don’t have a tree. And no fancy dinner parties here.

    But I (and my family) LOVE the Christmas season! We enjoy the music, the lights in the neighborhood, the cards/letters that come in the mail, the extra time spent with family, etc….

    I write all this to say – don’t feel like you have to do, do, do, buy, buy, buy, and go, go, go if it just isn’t right for your family. It really is OK to just be, just enjoy. It is a bit unconventional, I realize, but we are happy and don’t feel one bit deprived.

    Disclaimer: Certainly not everyone has to approach Christmas like we do — that’s not what I mean to say. Just trying to give some encouragement (permission?!?) to some who might be looking to take it easy this year. :)

  43. I started my Christmas shopping in August and it has backfired. I bought a necklace for my sister in law on Etsy and the seller still hasn’t gotten it to me! She keeps promising she will send it soon … And here I am three months later. Good thing I ordered it then! If it doesn’t get to me this month I am going to ask for a refund. Sad huh?!?

  44. Denise C. says:

    This year I set a budget for both of my children (though my 5 y.o. likes Lego sets and those are a bit more), I began shopping and when I saw what they wanted/liked I bought it. I plan to get wrapping paper soon and get that done. My dog can probably wrap gifts better than me. :)

  45. My husband and I have done this for the past several years and it’s been wonderful. I try to jot down gift ideas all year long as they occur to me, and then in September or so my husband and I sit down together and draw up a list of everyone we’re giving gifts to and what we’re giving them, complete with estimated prices. We try to finish up our shopping before Thanksgiving, though we usually wind up picking up a few last-minute things. I find the whole season a lot less stressful this way, and I can spend more time at home cuddling with my daughter and checking holiday picture books out of the library. I also never find myself worrying about shipping in any capacity…online orders always reach me with plenty of time to spare, and I usually get to the post office in early December, which saves me money on postage, too.
    Cate´s last post…Shahi Paneer Korma

  46. Lisa Foster-McNulty says:

    I refuse to set foot in a mall between Black Friday and Christmas Eve. For many years, my method has been to shop year-round. I have a bag with each family member’s name on it on shelves in my basement, and when I happen across something that I think someone will love, I buy it and put it away for the next gift-giving occasion. The other benefit to this is that I avoid having huge credit card bills to pay in January; the cost is spread throughout the year.

  47. I’m finished with my Christmas shopping for the most part…just a few odds and ends + stockings. Things are arriving at my door daily, and as soon as I finish this comment, I’m heading to the basement to wrap today’s loot. What a great feeling!!!

  48. Thanks for the post! I am going to Christmas shop early and be done done done and get my Christmas cards and New Year’s Day party invites done and out over Thanksgiving weekend…then I can decorate and bake and do fun stuff the rest of the month!

    …now if only I could get my girls to write their letters to Santa NOW my dastardly plan would come together quite nicely!

  49. We’re having our Christmas with my in-laws when we visit for Thanksgiving, so I have to do almost half my shopping way early! But as I do that I’m trying to keep an eye out for gifts for my side of the family as well.

    And I’m glad it was soup in that last picture…I thought it was some sort of odd tea! Love all the pictures, though. Isn’t it funny what is accidentally beautiful?
    Kait Palmer´s last post…Elimination Communication–Is This Wacko?

  50. The think I have done to simplify Christmas is to say no presents except for our two daughters. One is going away with her grandparents and the other wants a trampoline. Christmas shopping done…just a feast to co-prepare with the rest of the family, everyone brings a dish and we potluck it.
    Tasmanian Minimalist´s last post…The Pleasure of Herbs

  51. I too have decided to get my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving. Every year I say I’m going to do it early but this year I’m committing to it! Let’s do it!!

  52. I am thinking about simple christmas as usual, but bit more so this time. Kids still like gifts and all but we have instead want to give soup, cookies or time to family and friends instead of gadgets and stuff, unless that is what is needed. Will find out, I like to make a time to volunteer in food shelter, instead of throwing party. Let’s see how plans goes with 2 little ones who gets sick often.

    I wish your house will be ready much before then;

    Preeti
    Zengirl @ Heart and Mind´s last post…Top 10 Saving Money Tips: (How to Save When Buying)

  53. Due to us being a lot better at getting knocked up than we expected, not once, but twice – I have two children’s birthdays to get through before Christmas even gets on the radar!

    We also do not ‘start’ Christmas until the day after my oldest’s birthday – luckily for us he decided to be three weeks early, or we’d be starting Christmas on Christmas Day!

    Our family is very small – there’s the four of us and two sets of grandparents, and that’s really it. There are presents for the children, and the children buy something for us and their grandparents. The shopping is such a small part of it all for us, and I normally start looking about now.

    I don’t send Christmas cards to anyone I will actually see over Christmas, and I don’t send them to people I don’t hear from during the rest of the year, either. That simplifies a lot for me (I just wish the kids wouldn’t insist on writing a card for each and every one of their four million friends!) Despite there only being eight of us all up, we have two separate meals – we cook a roast for my mum and her partner (she is a vegetarian, so he never ever gets a roast, lol – it’s our special gift to him); and we have a lunch with cold meat, seafood, salad and the like with the in-laws.

    This year will be a bit trickier… my partner works shift work, and will be working until 7am Christmas morning. We’re planning to have a late lunch/early dinner so that he can have a sleep when he gets home from work. It will work out!

  54. I do my utmost not to have to set foot in big box stores between just before Tgiving and post-New Year’s, so I think about what we’ll need in the toiletries/paper goods/vitamins/etc. line and stock up now.
    Lori´s last post…Happy Holidays: Prevent the Gimmes by Tempering the Givers

  55. I just decided that this is the week for the Santa list to be made. I really want to have some free time this December, so if I can nail down the “Big Gift” for the kids, it will take a lot of stress off me. I also try to order everything together if I can – get it all delivered, wrapped & ready to go in one fell swoop. Due to budgetary constraints, we only do gifts for immediate family (us), a photo gift for the grandparents, plus baked gifts for neighbors – keeps it EASY!
    Ms. Amy´s last post…I Eat, Therefore….

  56. Well, I love to shop during Christmas. Just depends on knowing what you like/don’t like. I “discovered” I hate to bake cookies and stopped doing that years ago. Also, we decided not to travel when our baby was born (20 years ago). I have our Christmas cards already – only took about an hour to put it together and order it.

  57. SO funny reading this blog post today. In being more mindful of my simple approach and how different it is, I posted today about keeping Christmas simple. (I don’t think I had really thought about it much before reading this blog. But so often I identify with your approach. I realize that I really do like to simplify things).

    PLUS, we have been eating butternut squash soup all week. Who knew one pot of soup could make so many leftovers? (Maybe because the kids didn’t like it so much? More for us adults?)

    Anyway, we either don’t do gifts, or buy them early. I don’t think I have ever gone anywhere near a mall or store in the month of December! I just have no desire to partake in that. For Christmas day we just keep it simple. It’s kind of evolved this way over the years – just not wanting to partake in all the craziness.

  58. I will also be trying to get my shopping done before Thanksgiving…or at least by the end of November. I also am making plans for which cookies I am going to bake and any homemade food items I will give as gifts. This way, I can get some of the tags and labels made now and just add the food later.
    Bethany´s last post…Pella Apple Bread

  59. I would like to get all of my shopping done early this year but I like for the recipients to be able to return the items if they don’t like them or they aren’t the right fit or color, so with most stores, that policy is 30 days which doesn’t leave much time to shop early.

  60. I’ll tell you what, nothing keeps me more on task of a goal that a public declaration of said goal. Especially in writing, especially for the whole blogosphere to see. I hope you get all those gifts bought and wrapped. I bet you will.
    Megan@declutterdaily´s last post…Day 267 – 271 – The Wardrobe Issue

  61. I do recall ‘thinking’ about this same subject late summer. Hmm..working, a September flower fairy birthday party for my daughter, halloween, and well now it it Nov. 10th and I have no game plan. I am so glad I read this post and great comments. Time to get into action!

  62. I am giving the gift of adventure for friends and extended family this year!

    Here’s how:

    http://www.durangomom.com/2011/10/christmas-plan.html

  63. We used to put white lights around the trim of our house and put up a bigger tree — a pretty tradition. But now that we live in a townhouse, I only put up tiny trees here & there after Thanksgiving, or not. Putting lights on trees means a bigger electrical bill, so I’ve cut back in putting them on. If we do, turn on — it will only be for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

    I like to do simple decorations for the holidays using natural materials or simple items. The decorations stay up until the end of winter and a few will probably go up before Thanksgiving — making them more seasonal.

    I make a few baked goods, We don’t exchange gifts here. Instead, we may buy one or two items that the whole family uses. We’ve turned the holiday into a more relaxed event — since we stopped shopping for things and can now just go with the flow.

    I enjoy the holidays much more now that I’m not running around buying gifts that people may not want or need.