December is busy with holiday parties, last minute gift buying, wrapping presents, house cleaning for all the family visits, cooking and baking, and so much more. I always plan on getting everything done by November so I can enjoy the whole month of December, with visions of stress free days and nights. Every year, I find myself scrambling for stocking stuffers, gifts of people I forgot to buy for, wrapping presents until midnight, and by December 26, I ask myself what happened to the stress free month that I was determined to have each year.
To add even more stress, we love to take a week vacation to the mountains at some point during the holiday season also. We have to juggle all the family get togethers in between our vacation plans PLUS juggle all the finances to make sure we have enough for all the traveling and all the Christmas present buying. I also host a big holiday party for my nieces each year, just because I don’t have enough to do during the month and looking for something to fill my time. No, actually, it is my favorite thing I do the entire holiday season because I love the look on their faces at all the fun things we do that day!
For the last couple of years, I have spread Christmas prepping throughout the year so I can actually enjoy the month with family and friends instead of feeling like it just rushed by me. Prepping for Christmas not only helps you enjoy the month of December, but if you are a Christmas lover like I am, it brings joy and happiness throughout the year instead of only enjoying it that one month.
To prep, you need a great year long calendar with note pages in it. I use Erin Condren’s life planner because it gives me lots of planning pages and note pages along with the calendar. It literally goes with me everywhere and helps me plan all events through the year, as well as prep for any parties, showers, birthdays, and anniversaries.
I always have a running list of who I am going to buy Christmas presents for, including students, colleagues, family, and friends. As I buy a present, I put a check beside the name. I also check sales after holidays to see what I can use for stocking stuffers or small gifts or prizes for holiday party games. Be sure to check the expiration dates on any food type products that you purchase.
Each month, we will bring you a suggestion of what to do for that month to help you prep for Christmas! This month, we are featuring gift card buying! We give a lot of gift cards to our nephews and to other family members. I try to focus on swagbucks, ibotta, and other reward programs to help me buy the gift cards. No money out of my pocket for spending time searching, buying online, verifying purchases, or whatever the task or rewards program is asking you to do. Easy free money! BUT, not only that, I will take $25 out of our paycheck once a month to purchase a gift card. Since I already have gift card containers for Christmas, we go ahead and put the gift card in the container and a label with the person’s name on it. That keeps me from spending it myself and gets a gift already wrapped. I have a dedicated place in my closet to keep these gifts.
If you have a lot of gift cards to buy, save yourself the stress of spending several hundred dollars right at the holidays and purchase them throughout the year. Decide what fits in your budget to buying gift cards- $25 a month? $50 a month? You decide! Make sure you have a list of those you are buying gift cards for and check them off so you don’t forget you have already bought it. Go ahead and put them in your gift card container or in a safe place so you don’t use them yourself during the year. An easy task to help alleviate the stress during November and December!