8 Steps to Help You Get Ready for the Holidays Now (& Not Panic in November)

By Sara


Last Updated: September 13, 2023


The holiday season is a time of joy, festivities, and—let's be honest—a fair amount of stress.

Between gift shopping, meal planning, and juggling social commitments, it's easy to feel overwhelmed! This article aims to help you prepare well in advance with an 8-step guide to get ready for the holidays. If you plan ahead, holiday prep can be truly enjoyable. (For real.)



8 Steps to Help You Get Ready for the Holidays Now

Step 1: Start a Holiday Fund Jar

Money is often the first source of stress during the holidays. To avoid the last-minute financial crunch:

  1. Start a holiday fund jar.
  2. Label sections for different types of expenses—gifts, decorations, and meals.
  3. Aim to add a specific amount to the jar each week.

By the time the holiday season rolls around, you'll have a considerable fund to ease the financial burden.


Step 2: Create a Master Gift List

How many times have you found yourself aimlessly wandering through a mall or on an online website, wondering what to buy for whom?

To avoid this, get ready for the holidays by creating a master gift list.

Write down the names of everyone you'll be buying for, along with potential gift ideas and budget constraints. This will help you stay organized and prevent any last-minute, over-budget purchases.


Step 3: Inventory Your Decorations

Before you rush off to buy new tinsel and ornaments, take stock of what you already have.

Knowing your inventory will help you take advantage of early sales and avoid buying duplicate items. Set a day aside to sort through your decorations, discard damaged ones, and make a shopping list for new acquisitions.


Step 4: Plan Your Holiday Meals

Nothing says "holidays" like a delicious feast.

But do you really need to plan this in advance? Absolutely!

Early planning allows you to try out new recipes, adjust menus, and even spot sales on non-perishable items. Make a detailed menu for each holiday event and start buying non-perishables as early as two months in advance.

This can help you save some money by purchasing things on your list as they go on sale. 


Step 5: Develop a Shopping Strategy for Black Friday/Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are not just for gift shopping, but also great opportunities to snag deals on:

  • decorations
  • cooking gadgets
  • and even holiday clothing

Research which stores are offering deals on items you need and make a checklist. You'll be surprised at how much you can save! After the holiday season ends, retailers often have huge sales on decorations.

Make a note to take advantage of these sales to stock up on decorations for the next year at a fraction of the cost. Mark your calendar for these sales and keep your inventory list handy to know exactly what you'll need.


Step 6: Set Up a Calendar for Social Commitments

As the holidays approach, your social calendar is bound to fill up with family gatherings, work parties, and catch-ups with friends.

To avoid double-booking or, worse - forgetting an important event - set up a calendar exclusively for holiday social commitments. This will help you manage your time and ensure you don't miss out on any fun.


Step 7: Book Travel Plans

If you're traveling during the holidays, now's the time to book your flights and accommodation.

Not only will you get better deals, but you'll also have a wider selection of times and places to choose from.


Step 8: Have a Self-Care Strategy

Finally, remember that the holidays are meant to be enjoyed!

Set aside some time for yourself amid the chaos. Whether it's reading a book, taking a hot bath, or simply watching your favorite holiday movie, make time for self-care.



Your Essential Holiday Checklist

So, you've gone through the eight important steps to get ready for the holiday season.

Let's break down some of those bigger tasks into smaller, actionable pieces.

We've created a month-by-month checklist to help you prepare for the holidays, starting from September and going all the way through December. This checklist is your roadmap to a stress-free holiday season.

Want to make sure you stay on track?

Print out this checklist or save it to your phone. That way, you can refer to it regularly, tick off tasks as you complete them, and know that you're setting yourself up for a holiday season that's more joyful and less stressful.


September: The Early Bird Gets the Worm

  • Set Your Holiday Budget: Figure out how much you want to spend on gifts, decorations, meals, and other holiday expenses.
  • Start a Gift Jar: Create a jar or an envelope where you place extra cash for holiday expenses.
  • Draft Gift Lists: Write down the names of everyone you'll be buying gifts for and brainstorm gift ideas.


October: Lists and More Lists

  • Make Your Shopping List: Transform your brainstormed gift ideas into a concrete shopping list.
  • Plan Menus: If you're hosting holiday meals, consider the menu.
  • Start Crafting: If you're making homemade gifts, now is the time to start.


November: The Calm Before the Storm

  • Inventory Decorations: Go through your stored decorations and decide what you need more of.
  • Black Friday Prep: Take advantage of Black Friday for gifts and decorations; make a list of items and stores to target.
  • Test Kitchen: Try out any new recipes you'll use for holiday meals.


December: Game Time

  • Wrap Gifts: Don't leave this until the last minute!
  • Send Cards: Make sure to send out any holiday cards early in the month.
  • Double-Check: Go through your lists and make sure you haven't forgotten anything.
  • Shop After-Holiday Sales: Plan to shop the after-holiday sales to prepare for next year.



How to Get Ready for the Holidays (Without Going Crazy)

Planning for the holidays doesn't have to be a monumental task if you start early and break it down into manageable steps. Following this guide will make your holiday season less stressful and more enjoyable.

So why wait? Start implementing these steps today for a truly festive and relaxed holiday season.

Photo by Natasha Fernandez


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