I’m working through Tsh’s ebook One Bite at a Time and hopefully you are too! You can jump in at any time and follow my own journey! You can even go out of order…I sure am! Buy the ebook for only $5 HERE..

I know, I know.  Summer isn’t even officially over yet, and I’m that person that is already talking about the holidays.

I get as annoyed as anyone else when I see Thanksgiving decorations being put out on shelves before the fireworks have even stopped fizzling.

But in this case, I’m hoping to encourage you to take a few steps to get thinking now, cross a few things off your list before life gets too hectic, and ultimately, enjoy the holiday season a little more.

7 tips for planning ahead for the holidays [SimpleMom.net]

Photo by Jessica Erickson

1.  Decide who you are buying for (and how many gifts for each person).

If your list of gift giving seems exceptionally long, consider approaching some of the people on it about nixing the exchange this year.  You might be pleasantly surprised at the relief they will express at the idea!

When I mentioned the possibility of not doing gifts with a couple of my friends last year, the enthusiasm (and quickness!) with which they agreed encouraged me.  You’re not the only one overwhelmed by the costs and work of holiday gift giving!

Also take a minute to decide on how many gifts you plan on buying for each person.  Most people on my list get one gift, but my children each get three gifts: one from mommy, one from daddy, and one from Santa.  It’s so fun to see the differences in what I buy my children, versus what their dad buys them.

2.  Set a gift budget now (before you get wrapped up in the ads!).

Culling down my gift giving list isn’t about being greedy or even about cost savings.  I love giving gifts , but sometimes it takes the joy right out of everything when the sheer volume gets to be too much.

In some cases, opting out of gift exchanges didn’t seem right.  Instead, we decided to set a budget of $10.  In the end, these $10 gifts are actually my favorite ones to shop for!  It’s such a fun challenge to find a thoughtful gift within a tiny budget!

3.  Browse stores NOW.

The other day, I let my kids peruse the toy aisles at Target and casually asked them what they liked, what they would love to have the most, and took mental notes.  Now I have an idea of what they want and I don’t have to stress at the last minute.

Many retailers, in an effort to make room on their shelves, clearance out the “old” toys, meaning you can get some great deals!  More importantly, you can avoid crowds, overly stimulating advertisements, and last minute rushes if you start now.

4.  Shop online (now).

I know that stores will be having major sales as we get closer to the holiday months, but the truth is, beyond major Black Friday deals on big ticket items, you’re probably not going to save all THAT much in the end .

I’ve found that the pricing year round on Amazon is so reasonable, that even if a brick and mortar sale is lower, it’s worth it to have it show up on my doorstep.  No crowds.  No half empty shelves.  No cart wars. I’m a fan of saving money, but my sanity has a price too.  Free trials of Amazon Prime don’t hurt.

5.  Decide on Christmas cards now.

It used to be that the only time I heard from certain people was through Christmas cards.  With the advent of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and blogs, I can keep up with most people regularly.

When I sat down last year to write that quintessential family letter, it felt repetitive.  Didn’t people already see the 87 summer vacation pictures in their Facebook streams?

I’m still a sucker for tradition, so I think I’ll mail out cards every few years for good measure.  This is not that year.

If you’re planning on sending out cards, decide on the family photo or book a photo shoot with a photographer now.  Waiting until the last minute is rarely a good idea when there is so much else going on.

6.  Advent Calendar prep:


Every year I do a Jesse Advent “tree”, and every year I get comments saying “I keep meaning to do this!  But now it’s too late/I don’t have time…NEXT YEAR!”  Well, if you’ve been meaning to put together some kind of Advent tradition, NOW is the time.  THIS is the year.  (You can see what my family does HERE.)

7.  Decide what big meals and other cooking/baking you want to do now.

Talk to family about what parties, dinners, and assorted events you’re on the hook for.  Pinterest is amazing.  And overwhelming.

Start curating an attainable board of recipes and shopping lists.  Putting together meal plans is so much more enjoyable when you can do it casually with months to spare.

Besides, you know you’ll be on Pinterest anyway…you might as well be productive.

Are you ready to think about the holidays so soon?  What tasks do you think you’re willing to get started on? Are you working through One Bite at a Time?