Experiencing Christmas as a wife, a homeowner, an entertainer, a gift-giver, a treat-baker & overall extravagant lady this past year has taught me so much. For one, you simply cannot do it all. Every gift might not look like it was wrapped for a magazine shoot & you might not be able to hide all the Christmas light wires in your tree no matter how many “hacks” you try. You definitely won’t be able to make it through the month without without gaining a couple of pounds & you will never get every tree needle up off the floor. Every Christmas tradition doesn’t have to be accomplished every year & you may not have time to catch every single one of your favorite Christmas movies.
It’s overly obvious that I’m a holiday gal at heart, especially when it come to the holidays. It’s almost as if Christmas is my calling. I feel the need to do it all & to do it all big; but, after my first Christmas out of my parents house I quickly realized my idealistic season of cheer was hard. I loved it so much, yet I always had so much to get done. I never felt like I got a chance to sit & just soak up the holiday spirit until it was all over. Quite honestly, I wanted to sit with hot chocolate & a cookie watching a classic by the glistening tree. That might have happened a few times, but never a whole movie & never without having my hands busy with something else- multitasking.
I can only blame myself. So myself is starting now & planning strategically. I have some tips & planning sheets to share with ya, so we can all enjoy the season!
If you’ve seen my snaps (cathrynenc) you may have seen me wrapping up gifts a few weeks ago. Like the mad woman I am. I won’t lie, I’ve been collecting Christmas gifts here & there since December 27, 2015. Why? Sales sales sales. That’s why. That’s how I do everything & that’s how I’m able to do up holidays real big- I shop all holiday clearance post holiday. If you can wait long enough, that means up to 90% off y’all! I will never ever run out of wrapping paper or holiday napkins. Never! All thanks to 90% off clearance.
So, Tip #1– Shop post-holiday & stock up on next year’s gifts.
Tip #2 is to shop year round. If you see something in September that you think would make a great gift your dad, buy it then! If at all possible, buy it when you see it. Chances are you’ll forget it later & wont be able to find it again. Now if you can’t buy it at the time, be sure to keep a running list of Christmas gift ideas on your phone. That’s Tip #3! I’ve been doing this one for years & it ALWAYS comes in handy, especially at the last minute. I’m rarely asking myself what to get someone because at some point or another I’ve typed out some ideas. When you hear loved ones mention things off-hand that they’d like to have, add to that list! You’ll forever be remembered as super thoughtful.
I thought I’d make my own batch of cute, Christmas planning sheets, but it’s been done so many times & the ones out there are pretty adorable! So, I’m sharing some others in addition to 2 specific sheets I’ve created. Tip # 4 is to print these out now, put them in a nice binder with plastic sheets to keep ’em safe & actually use them. You can fill things in throughout the year. By the time December rolls around, you’re going to be so organized & you’ll get to have a month of enjoying the fun season instead of running around like a chicken with your head cut off. (PS- I hate when people say that, it’s so creepy)
Here’s my faves…
Tip #5 is to go ahead & wrap those gifts that are bought early- if at all possible. I love wrapping Christmas gifts. I literally remember wrapping my first Dollar Store gifts when I was in Kindergarten. My parents let me pick out one thing for each family member at the Dollar Store & I was thrilled to wrap them all myself! My wrapping skills have improved mightily since then & I want each present to be beautifully different. I like to add ribbons & trims & tags & toppers! All of that can take a ton of time, especially when you have as many family members as I do…it seems like the wrapping never stops. While I love wrapping, I really love when I get to take my time adding all the fun adornments & not feel rushed or stressed.
Wrapping pretty gifts makes me happy. So I like to start wrapping a few gifts at a time as soon as I begin purchasing them. I store them wrapped up in the closet, with tags & bows & the works. i’m really into adding “toppers” to my gifts lately too- something on the outside of the gift used as decor, but is also a small part of the gift. Examples- candy bars, trinkets, wooden initials, keychains, mini hand sanitizers, bracelets, etc. Basically anything fun & small that can be attached with a ribbon. I can afford to do this by (once again) hitting up those post-holiday sales! I pick up 90% off goodies that aren’t too seasonal & can be used for Christmas gifts. Some are things I picked up after Christmas last year, some are from other holidays. I do the same things for all the ribbons, tags & trims- 90% off clearance- mostly from the Target One Spot! I’m sure I’ll still get some holiday-themed things to add closer to December too, but this saves quite a bit & let me pretend to be extravagant!
Wrapping is almost like therapy to me. I’ll do a few gifts to relax or destress sometimes. If thats not your thing, hire it out! Seriously! Let someone else do the work for you. It’s probably worth it. Just don’t send them over to me because I’ll be busy enjoying the season come December! A lot of people say they don’t like doing this because they don’t remember what they got for who, etc. For one- you MUST tag them when you wrap them. For two- that’s exactly what this handy dandy printable is for!
Tip #6– Keep tracks of the gifts you’ve bought & wrapped with this handy dandy Christmas gift list.
I suggest keeping it on a clipboard in the same spot you’re hiding the gifts! Or in a top secret location if there’s sneaky kids in your house.
While we’re talking about Christmas & printables, I thought I’d whip up a similar planner for Elf on the Shelf! I know thinking up all of the ideas & remembering them can be stressful, or scouring Pinterest the night before. Get all your ideas planned & written out so you always know whats coming the next morning. Of course, there’s always room for spontaneity.
Be sure to check out this list of 300+ Elf on the Shelf ideas to get you started.
Start doubling up on meals now- casseroles, soups, stir frys, etc & stick one in the freezer. Wrap in plastic wrap then foil & date it. They’ll make for easy meals come November & December! Just unwrap & heat. Add a salad or bread if you need too & you’re good to go! Start with some of these- Chicken Tortilla Soup| Meat Sauce | Chicken Tacos | White Chicken Chili | King Ranch Chicken | Baked Potato Soup | Shepherd’s Pie
Decide on any homemade gifts you’d like to make & start preparations now. Buying supplies is the first step!
Get your holiday recipes together now. Make a list of things you’d like to bake. Look out for sales on special ingredients that will last till December. For example, I love to make Rolo Pretzel Treats so I’ll try to grab the leftover Rolos after Halloween. Any candy that gets unwrapped should be bought after Halloween. The leftovers get marked down the day after at grocery stores, Target & Walmart.
Take any days off of work for vacation/family time now! This is your chance to get in there before everyone else requests time off.
If you plan on getting handmade items off sites like Etsy, start ordering soon. Those small businesses get swamped with orders starting in November & you want to be sure yours arrives well before December 25.
I hope you all don’t think I’m too crazy ha!
PS- Linking up at some of my fave places, check ’em out!