Because last year’s Christmas was chaotic to say the least, I put together a few tips and ideas to keep it from happening again. See these 110 simple ways to get ready and prepare for Christmas.
Holidays always have a way of sneaking up on us, especially Christmas. As soon as Halloween hits, it seems like the Christmas season is upon us. Unlike last year, I am trying not to do everything at the last minute. The key is to plan and do as much as you can in advance. To be a little more organized this year and get a head start, I put together a few tips. See these 110 simple ways to get ready and prepare for Christmas. I hope they help.
Plan Your Calendar
#1 Christmas Planner
Get a planner specifically for all of your Christmas plans and activities. Keep all of your thoughts, ideas, to-do lists, and activities in this planner.
#2 Family Calendar
A family digital calendar is a great way to make sure everyone has all of the details they need for every family event. Don’t forget to include grandparents.
Get together with family to coordinate dates for all of your Christmas family gatherings.
#4 Plan time to take off at work.
Depending on your job, you may need to put in for vacation days well in advance.
#5 School events
If you have school-aged children, check with teachers or the school calendar for any activities or programs.
#6 Special Events
There are a variety of other activities to consider when filling out your Christmas calendar. Don’t forget:
- Concerts – Watch for dates and order tickets early.
- Church Services – Many churches have Christmas concerts, plays, caroling, and benevolent activities.
- Parties – If there are no parties that you are aware of, you may want to host your own.
- Parades – The Macy’s Day Parade starts off the Christmas season, but local parades can be great annual traditions.
- Time for Travel – Make plans early if you are planning on traveling over the holidays.
#7 Get any holiday trips scheduled.
#8 Make Travel arrangements
Once you know when and where you will be traveling, you can decide on your mode of transportation.
#9 Check the car
If you will be driving, make sure the car is ready for a road trip. Do a regular maintenance check before you leave – gas, oil, washer fluid, tires, emergency kit, air conditioner/heater, and all lights.
#10 Make Lodging Arrangements
If you are not staying with family members or friends, reserve your hotel in advance. You would not want to have a “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” experience during the most wonderful time of the year!
Set a Budget
#11 Christmas Budget
Setting a budget is very important! If you do not have parameters for your spending, you can end up in a financial bind. With a little planning, you can have a good idea how much you will need to spend on:
Sign up for different store rewards and loyalty programs to get valuable coupons. Check your email before shopping.
#13 Use a Credit Card
If you are going to use a credit card for all of your Christmas shopping, it might be helpful to use a separate card only for those purchases. It is definitely easier to track your spending, and then pay it off at the end of the month.
#14 Cash back rewards
Check to see if you have a credit card with cash back rewards. Use the card throughout the year for your regular purchasing, and pay it off at the end of each month. In doing this, you do not pay interest, but you gain cash rewards. Cash those rewards in early November to use for Christmas spending.
#15 Keep a spreadsheet
Make a list of people to buy for, the budget is for each person, and a running total of what you spend. Don’t forget to calculate taxes into the total. If you use a program such as Google Sheets, you can keep it updated on your phone while you shop. It is nice to be able to see how much you have left in the budget for each person. I find this is the best way to stay within the budget.
#16 Who is hosting
Decide which family members are hosting which events.
#17 Who is bringing food
It is easier on everyone if the food is divided up amongst people. Do a sign up sheet or group phone call to make decisions so everyone is on the same page.
#18 Set Family expectations/plans
It is a terrible feeling to go to an event and either under-spend or over-spend. Set a budget with family and friends to keep this from happening.
#19 Type of gifts
Decide if you will give store bought or homemade Christmas gifts. Last year at my parents’ house, we decided to only give either homemade gifts or gifts from home with special meaning. It took a little bit of thinking, but the gifts had a deeper meaning than just picking items off of a list.
#20 Other gift ideas
Some families enjoy White Elephant giving or drawing names.
#21 Party games planned
If your family likes games, plan a few Christmas games.
#22 Neighborhood parties planned
This is a great way to kick off the Christmas season and get to know your neighbors. Keep it as informal as you wish. You could even do a quick ornament exchange.
#23 Parties with close friends
Don’t forget your friends. It is so easy to get caught up with all of the things to do and places to go. Set aside one night to spend with friends.
#24 Make a list of people to buy for & amount to spend
Brainstorm every person you will be buying a gift for and add them to the spreadsheet.
#25 Gift ideas for each person
Keep a running list of ideas for people throughout the year. As you hear them mention something, jot it down on the list. If you do not have ideas, ask other family members for ideas or a Christmas list.
#26 Wish lists in advance
When an event is approaching where I will need a gift idea for my granddaughters, I get them to add things to one of my Amazon lists in my phone.
#27 Plans at work
Every work place is different, so you want to communicate to find out what the consensus is on gift exchange or holiday parties. If it is decided to give gifts to everyone, start your gift buying early. The after Christmas clearance sales are the best time to stock up on gifts for the next year.
#28 Church gifts
The size of your church will determine if you can get something for all of the members, just the Sunday School class, or not at all.
#29 Don’t forget gifts for the Fur-Babies.
Gift Exchange Ideas
#30 Ornament Exchange
#31 White Elephant
#32 Draw Names
#33 The 12 Days of Christmas
Last year at work, instead of giving each other gifts, we planned our first 12 Days of Christmas. Each person had a day and brought treats of some sort to bless the office. See the link for more details.
Gift Giving Tips
#34 Gift Cards
Give gift cards to a person’s favorite store or restaurant.
#35 Buy extra gifts for unexpected guests.
#36 Keep extra gifts stored in a closet for all occasions.
#37 Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Take advantage of these sales! If you don’t want to fight the crowd, shop online.
#38 Online shopping
In general, online shopping will definitely save you time. Take a little time to do comparison shopping to get the best deals.
#39 Gift wrapping station
If at all possible, wrap gifts when you get them.
#40 Decide on theme and color.
#41 Check for non-working lights.
#42 Take inventory
Indoor and outdoor lights, miscellaneous decorations, ribbons, ornaments
#43 Buy new stockings for any additions to the family.
#44 Tree Ornaments
Start a tradition of getting a new ornament yearly. It can be:
- Store bought
- Collected on vacation
- Here is the link to the beach vacation memento ornament I made last year.
#45 Real or Artificial Christmas Trees (pre-lit or not)
#46 Decorate the tree as soon as possible to enjoy it longer.
#47 Storage solutions
Purchase totes for Christmas decorations and the large Christmas tree bags to store artificial trees.
Time to Relax
You probably won’t have much free time during the holidays, but it is important to carve out a little time each week to keep your sanity.
#49 Try to plan and do things in advance.
#50 Find a day to have to yourself.
#51 Schedule a hair appointment for cut and/or color.
#52 Get a manicure and/or pedicure.
#53 Soak in a bubble bath, and light candles.
Preparing Your Home
#54 Declutter and donate:
- Household Items
#55 Clean the house.
#56 Clean the oven.
#57 Get guestrooms ready
- Sheets, pillows, and extra blankets
#58 Assess the seating arrangements
Borrow or rent any extra tables and chairs that are needed.
#59 List all meals for all gatherings
Family, work, church, neighborhood
#60 Plan Menus
Have a meal plan.
#61 Give any new recipes a try before the event.
#62 Order or purchase a turkey in advance.
Be sure to start thawing it out early, according to the weight. This can take a couple of days.
#63 Make a grocery order
Ingredients, any supplies, food packaging products, list of fresh ingredients to get closer to time.
#64 Baking list
See if anything that can be pre-baked, and come up with a baking schedule.
#65 Drinks and Ice
#66 Cook and freeze any meals.
#67 Make candy and Christmas cookies in advance.
#68 Order any take-out meals in advance.
If you are looking for delicious but super easy candy recipes, get these 5 Easy Candy Recipes. They are my “go to” recipes for the holidays.
Supplies to Buy
#70 Stock up on cleaning supplies and essentials
(TP, napkins, paper towels, etc.)
#71 Paper products & serving items
Disposable products – cups, silverware, plates, bowls, take-out packages, and aluminum casserole pans
#72 Gift wrapping supplies
Wrapping paper, tape, ribbons, bows, sacks – Stock up after Christmas to save money the following year.
#73 Purchase postage.
For the Kids
#74 Elf on the Shelf ideas
Here is a link to a website for ideas, or look on Pinterest.
#75 Santa letters
#76 Visit Santa
#77 Set out milk & cookies on Christmas Eve.
#78 Go to a movie theater to see Christmas movies.
#79 Decorate a gingerbread house.
The Reason for the Season
#80 Plan Christmas devotionals for the family.
#81 Advent events
#82 Food Banks
Participate in canned food drives. Make a small contribution to charities.
#83 Plan to attend a Christmas Eve Service.
#84 Church ideas
Gifts, devotionals, community outreach
#85 Read the Christmas story together as a family before opening presents.
Christmas Cards and Packages
#86 Keep addresses digitally
Keep an ongoing list to reuse each year. Print address labels.
#87 Have a card list
Ones to be mailed & ones to be hand delivered
#88 Choose the type of cards to send
- Traditional store bought cards
- Homemade cards
- Christmas letters
- Family pictures
#89 Take time to write cards
#90 Check postal deadlines & mail packages and cards.
#91 Send Invitations or Save the Date cards out for parties.
#92 Family photos taken
#93 Pick Christmas music
Christmas playlist of the family’s favorite Christmas music – Sirius XM, Prime Music, Spotify, radio stations, vinyl records for a vintage sound
#94 If anyone plays instruments in the group, have a sing along.
#95 Assemble toys in advance.
#96 RSVP to all invitations.
#97 Choose Christmas outfits
Adults and kids
#98 Buy matching family pajamas.
#99 Shop resale shops for Ugly Christmas sweaters.
#100 Make homemade gifts.
Fun Things to Do
Keep a list of things that come to mind throughout the year.
#101 Decorate the tree together as a family.
Put on a Christmas movie or music playing, and serve hot chocolate while decorating.
#102 Keep Family Traditions
Parades, reading the Christmas story from the Bible, etc.
#103 Train rides
#105 Watch a Christmas Movie together.
#106 Have a Cookie Exchange Party
#107 Go Christmas caroling.
#108 Keep everything stored and organized with totes and labels.
#109 Shop the clearance sales.
Look for great deals and clearance items for next year. Stock up on wrapping paper, Christmas cards, tags, decorations, gift bags.
#110 Shop sales for office and teacher gifts for next Christmas.
These 110 Simple Ways to Get Ready and Prepare for Christmas should help a great deal in being a little more prepared than I was last year. I know this does not cover everything. In fact, I would love to hear your ideas and Christmas traditions that I did not think of for this post. Please share! Christmas Day will be here before we know it! We will have ample time if we start now.
Until next week…
Have a Grace and Joy-Filled Week,
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“When I am filled with cares, Your comfort brings me joy.” Psalms 94:19