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10 things to do now to ensure a more enjoyable {less stressful} December

Taking a quick break from all things Fall today to talk about another beloved season right around the corner.  Did you know that there are only 79 days until Christmas!?  It really will be here before we know it.  I’m all about enjoying the season we are in and not rushing on to the next one, but here’s the truth — December is BUSY.  And for me, sipping hot chocolate while driving around looking at Christmas lights in pajamas with my kids is much easier (and more enjoyable) when I’m not stressed about a million things that need to be done.  In the past 10 years of being a mom I have had organized Decembers and not so organized Decembers and I’m a firm believer that organized Decembers are better!  When I take the time to plan ahead and don’t have as much on my plate in December it’s much easier for me to relax and really enjoy the magic of the holiday season with my family.  So.  I sat down this weekend and starting making a list.  And checking it twice.  :)  Here are 10 things I came up with that we can all start doing now to ensure a less stressful December.

1)  Make a list of family/friends you are buying for and plan your budget.  Nothing fancy.  Just grab a notepad and write each person down and how much you are able to spend on them.  Include everybody you want to get a gift for:  family/friends/neighbors/teachers/kids’ friends/etc.  (*I always buy a few extra gifts in case I accidentally forget someone I wanted to buy for.)

2) Start brainstorming gift ideas.  This is especially helpful if you have little ones and are *helping* Santa.  :)  I like to have a place to jot down gift ideas whenever they pop in my head.  This also helps me come up with ideas for my husband because he is so hard for me to buy for!  I like to come up with something fun and different each year for friend/neighbor/teacher gifts so it’s helpful to have a few different ideas jotted down for them as well.

Here are a few past posts full of fun gift ideas to help you start brainstorming!

Cookies or Candles for friends.
{My applesauce cookies are perfect this time of year!}
Christmas Pretzel Hugs for neighbors.
You can also see my favorite gift ideas for kids here (2011), here (2012), and here (2013).  

3) Set up a Christmas wrap station and organize your wrap supplies.  Now is the time to get wrapping supplies in order.  In our previous house I set up a Christmas wrap station in my son’s nursery (it was the only space I had!).

In our new house I have a cupboard in my office where I store wrapping supplies that I’m planning to organize soon and start putting to good use.

4)  Start shopping!  I love to shop but I have to say that I DREAD shopping in December.  The mall is madness.  Way too busy.  Not worth it if it takes 20 minutes just to park your car!  On-line shopping helps a lot with this but the best solution is to start your shopping early.  Even if it isn’t completely done, having most of it figured out before Thanksgiving makes for a much better December!

5)  Wrap as you go.  The past two Decembers (because we were so busy building the house and then moving) I’ve spent Christmas Eve wrapping everything for my family.  I always underestimate what a time consuming activity it really is to wrap every one of those gifts!  This year I’m using my wrap station and I’m going to wrap as I go.  As soon as I buy a gift I’m coming home to wrap it!  When I’ve done this in the past, I wait to put bows/ribbons on them and write in small print on the back of the gift who it’s to and what it is to remind me a few days before Christmas.  Then I can stick a bow/ribbon/tag on it and call it done!  This year on Christmas Eve after the kids are in bed instead of being buried in gift wrap, I’ll be curled up on the couch with my husband watching It’s a Wonderful Life.  :)

6)  Start working on your Christmas cards.  If you haven’t had family pictures yet and plan to send out cards this year, schedule them now.  We just had our pictures taken on Friday and my goal is to have my cards addressed and ready to mail out before December 1st.  Now is also the time to update your Christmas address list.  Set aside a time this month to go through and make sure you have recent addresses and add any new friends/co-workers, etc. you want to send a card to.

LOVE receiving/displaying Christmas cards from family and friends each year!

7)  Start planning for holiday parties if you entertain.  If you are planning to have any type of get together during December now is the time to prepare!  Make your guest list, plan your menu, decide how you want to decorate and what you’ll need to buy for the party.

8)  Start making any homemade gifts you want to give this season.  Every year I give my husband a calendar for his office full of current pictures of our kids.  And every year I wait until December 20th to start working on it!  Why oh why do I do this!?  This year I am choosing the pictures I plan to use for his calendar this month.  Then I can toss in a December picture in December and get that thing made and wrapped and under the tree early avoiding my annual mad dash to Kinkos praying that they can print my calendar overnight.  :)  If you plan to make any other gifts for loved ones this year, now is the time to start making them!

9)  Plan ahead for Christmas Decorating.  This part is fun to plan for!  It’s a good time to assess what you have and what you might want to add this year to spruce up your house for the holidays.  Especially if you plan on making something fun for your house.  Most of the time DIY projects take longer than you think they will.  Getting a jump start now on anything you want to make to decorate with (a wreath, tree ornaments, etc.) will allow plenty of time for any errors in your process that have you running to the craft store at 9:00 pm.  :)

My Christmas card garland displaying our past Christmas cards is my favorite DIY Christmas decor.  I’m excited to add to it and display it this year in the new house.  :)

10)  Spend some time thinking about Christmas traditions for your family and ways to make the season special.  I like to plan activities to do with my kids that teach them the true reason for the season.  We try to serve others often throughout the year with our kids, but this time of year it is especially important to find ways to serve and help others.  (Planning to do a post in more detail about this at some point!)  I also love setting up simple family traditions to do each year with my kids that make December feel extra special.

Things like watching our favorite Christmas movies together.
Reading our favorite Christmas books next to the tree.
Sipping hot chocolate together (just started our hot chocolate station tradition last year!).
 And waiting in anticipation to see where our elf will pop up each day.

Like I said, I’m all about savoring and enjoying Fall.  But a little extra planning during the next month will go a long way in helping us all have a much more relaxing December!

And I am definitely all about that as well.
I hope these tips help you do the same!
xoxo, Erin
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20 thoughts on “10 things to do now to ensure a more enjoyable {less stressful} December

  1. I already stared shopping and the lists are made. I am with you. I try to get most of it done so that in December I can enjoy the season. I always wait until December to shop for stocking stuffers. They are fun and I don;t feel so overwhelmed as I would with gifts.

    If the weather stays as hot as it has been, we may have to go right into Christmas anyway.

  2. I make a calendar for my parents every year with pictures of my kids and the best thing I ever started doing was 3 years ago when I decided to make it throughout the year. I use Shutterfly and try to upload my pictures as soon as I take them and put them into the calendar right away. It’s so easy and I’m not overwhelmed searching through a bajillion pictures while I’m thinking of all the other stuff I have to get done.

  3. So smart Cathy! I know. This weather! Will it ever feel like summer is over!?

    Robin that is so smart! Totally what I need to start doing with Kenny’s. I’m going to work on it today!

    Thanks Jboo! I can be a dawdler too. :) Lists always help me remember what I should be working on!

  4. These are great tips Erin! It’s amazing how much of a difference early preparations make for how much I enjoy (or don’t enjoy) December. My hubby’s off for a few weeks and he does a lot of our shopping so I’m getting him going on our lists now so I’m not stuck doing all the shopping like last year when he worked a lot. Good luck with all your prep!

  5. Hi Erin,

    Your tips and ideas for gifts are so great! I really enjoy reading your blog and look forward to it with my coffee in the morning :) Your house is coming along so beautifully. Love EVERYTHING about it!


  6. Great tips! In Canada our thanksgiving is coming up October 13th, so I can start earlier with yur list to jump start me! I usually buy through the year but loose track of what for who? List list list this year! Thanks Erin as always

  7. Thank you Hilda! Love that your husband helps with the shopping. So nice!

    Joy you are so kind to say that! I’m touched my blog is part of your morning routine. :) Thanks for the kind words. Made my day!

    Thank you Pat! LOVE lists lists lists! :) xo

  8. I’ve had the supplies to make a Christmas card garland sitting in a box for two years. If we make it into the house before Thanksgiving (ugh!) I MUST get that thing done! Thanks for the motivation!

  9. I am literally printing out your post and putting it where I can see it – so I can be better prepared for December. Thanks for reading my mind and creating a post that will help me tremendously. You rock!!

  10. I’d love to hear {ASAP} how you plan to display cards from friends/family. I’m looking for a new way to do so!!

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