1. Take your Christmas photo--Fall is the time for photos in our family. With all three kids having fall birthdays, I take their photos in the fall anyways. And try to squish in one of the family as well. Plus the fall colors are simply gorgeous. Even the silly candids come out looking picture perfect for a Christmas card. And if not picture perfect, certainly a snap shot of where we're at in life.
2. Make a gift list--I am a huge bargain shopper. So starting off the holiday season with an organized gift list gives me the chance to pick items up at a great price. Plus having a gift list ensures that I don't forget someone while overbuying for others.
3. Purchase hostess gifts-- Don't forget those hostess gifts. We do a lot of traveling during the holidays and it's fun to leave little gifts for our hostess as the budget allows.
4. Gather Christmas outfits--I love to take Christmas photos in front of the tree each year. But in the rush of Christmas morning, it's so easy to let the kids just get dressed in whatever. So this year, I'm planning ahead and picking outfits they'll love, but look nice in as well.
5. Save the date--December is very busy with events that only come once a year. But the pressure to be everywhere can be overwhelming. So it's important to put our most treasured events on the calendar early. Some of those dates for us include the Christmas parade, Lydia's birthday party, our Christmas theater field trip, and Lydia's dance performance.
6. Make a master baking/grocery list--I come from a huge line of bakers and Lydia's caught the bug as well. We start our baking in November every year just to savor the joy of being in the kitchen together. Everyone has their favorites and I try to include those in my list, while buying ingredients as they go on sale to not knock my budget off course.
7. Check all decor items--Inevitablly, I seem to forget to put out some special decor item until I'm packing things away in January. The last couple of years, I've tried to start sitting out some of those special items ahead of time in the garage and checking for any broken pieces that I can fix early on. This is particually important with Christmas lights. Checking those ahead of time saves a lot of running around on the day we finally get them hung.
8. Prep some freezer meals--December is certainly busy. Besides Christmas, homeschooling, and sports, we also have all the holiday events as well as a December birthday and dance performance. So while I'm cooking dinner in November, I try to double the recipe for the freezer. On those nights when things get crazy, I can pull dinner from the freezer, saving time, money, and sanity.
9. Declutter--Some people love spring cleaning. I get the bug to declutter in the fall. December makes me feel a little crazy with everything coming into the house and I just feel the need to purge. Don't take this as a huge decluttering event (unless you want to), but just work on it a little bit here and there. Spend 15 minutes in a room or two during the week and do a quick decluttering, just the things that stick out to you the most. And give yourself permission to stop after 15 minutes.
10. Deep clean--With out of town guests, I like to have my house looking a little fresher than usual. So each weekend, I find a public room (living room, kitchen, bathrooms, etc) to do a deeper cleaning. That way when December rolls around, I have a fresher, cleaner home to offer.
11. Stay healthy--There's a reason why we all catch the flu this time of year. More sugar, less exercise and fresh air, unusual diets, and less sleep contribute to a run down immune system. So this November (and December), I'm staying healthy. Creating a healthy meal plan during the week to enjoy those holiday parties. Making sure I'm getting lots of rest and bundling up for a walk in the fresh air. Taking care of my health will allow us all to enjoy those fun holiday times even more.
12. De-stress--While I'm taking care of yourself, I plan to spend some time de-stressing as well. Plan a girl's night out in November before the craziness to reconnect and laugh together. Get a massage to unwind after all the cleaning and baking. Pamper yourself to a pedicure to look festive and de-stress at the same time. I'm remembering that a happier me affects my family's holiday experience as well. And that makes for a very Merry Christmas.
What are you doing now to prepare for the craziness of the holidays?