Jumpstart Holidays… October

The secret to a smooth holiday season is starting early.... as in starting now, in October.

The secret to a smooth holiday season is starting early…. as in starting now, in October. This may seem ridiculous, but by knocking off some of the time-insensitive tasks, you can significantly lessen the stress that November and December can bring. To get a jumpstart, use the next couple of weeks to:

Discuss holiday plans

  • Decide if you will host any parties, and if so when?
  • Decide if you will attend any special events (concerts, shows, performances, etc.)
  • Buy any required tickets.
  • Reserve babysitting for high-demand December weekends.

Nail down travel details

  • Decide if you will be traveling or if anyone will be coming to you.
  • Purchase any necessary tickets (train, plane…)
  • Make necessary reservations (hotel, pet boarding, rental car, airport transport….)
  • Purchase hostess gifts now to be delivered at the appropriate time (most websites let you pick when you would like gifts delivered.)
  • Request/communicate special dietary needs to help with meal planning.

Complete Holiday Greeting Cards

  • Decide on a card design.
  • Finalize your card list and update addresses.
  • Order the appropriate number of cards and envelopes.
  • Write any personal notes or a family letter.
  • Address envelopes (by hand, print envelopes from the computer, or print labels.)
  • Buy stamps. (If you like holiday stamps, you can pre-order online at usps.com; they typically ship the 3rd week of October.)

Plan Food

  • Stock up on wine and spirits.
  • If you bake or give food gifts, start buying supplies (flour, sugar, butter, chocolate, etc.)
  • If you are hosting, begin making lists for items you will serve and ingredients you will need.
  • Prepare anything that you can freeze (easy go-to dinners, pie crusts, cookies, stock, etc.)

Get Ahead on Gifts

  • Make a list of everyone to whom you will be giving gifts (friends, family, teachers, service providers, work associates, charities, etc.)
  • Decide what you will be giving to each recipient (gift cards, cash, specific items)
  • Watch for sales, look online, and take advantage of the slow pre-season retail time.
  • Check your stash of wrapping supplies and supplement as needed (paper, tape, boxes, bows, ribbon.)
  • Wrap items and label gifts as you bring them in and put in a designated holding area.

Prepare Your Home

  • If you are hosting overnight guests, begin thinking about who will sleep where. Make sure to have sufficient clean bedding, towels, etc.
  • Polish any silver you will be using.
  • De-clutter and make space for holiday decorations (sort any stacks of paperwork, get rid of old magazines, give away unwanted clothing, clear off shelves, etc.)
  • Sort through toys and make space for any new items that might come in.
  • Give your house a thorough cleaning.

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The holiday season should be enjoyed. While there is no eliminating the “hustle and bustle,” checking items off your list early is the best way to ensure a happy holiday.

What ideas do you have for getting a jump on the holidays?

18 thoughts on “Jumpstart Holidays… October”

  1. I don’t think it’s ridiculous at all. We definitely already planned Thanksgiving because it involves travel and that involves planning! And we have three pets (well.. two right now. One seems to have run away.. sob) so we have to plan for their care when we travel to Jersey for Christmas.
    And do we want to have a party? That must be planned soon!

    1. So sorry about the pet who ran away:( But you are totally right, travel requires planning – especially at Thanksgiving, when it seems like the whole world travels. If you want to have a holiday party, getting the word out early can help avoid awkward situations… like your best friend printing invitations for her own party on the same day!

  2. Although the holidays seem so far away, I have begun to freak out a little considering I am planning to be with my daughter for the entire month of November as she welcomes her first baby. On top of that I will be traveling for 2 weeks in October and 2 weeks in December. Yikes! I’m going to follow your suggestions NOW!

    1. Wow, you have a very busy fall ahead. How wonderful for your daughter that she will have you with her. Having my Mom with me was my lifeline! In a busy year like this, you may want to let a few things go as well. You don’t have to do everything, every year! Best wishes on the new baby:)

  3. As a working woman, one of the things I like to do for the holidays is something I call my “Christmas Sanity Week”. I save some of my vacation so I can take several days off between about the 10th and the 15th of Dec. That is when I do most of my shopping, decorating, and get my packages ready to mail. So much easier than trying to cram it into my busy workweek! I also have a special account where I tuck money away all year with a debit card that I only use for my Christmas purchases. Doesn’t cover everything, but it gives me a good stash of guilt-free money to start off my Christmas shopping! #SITSSharefest

    1. “Christmas Sanity Week” is a fabulous idea! It enables you to really enjoy the season. I also save a bit all year so that the bank account doesn’t take such a big hit in December/January. Excellent ideas – thanks so much for sharing Adrian!

  4. This is an excellent reminder! This just tells me I have so many things to consider. We’re traveling in December for a long holiday and I haven’t purchased tickets yet. Plus my planned birthday bbq party on top of that!

    1. Sounds like it is going to be a busy December for you — but all full of fun things:) Tickets only get more expensive and harder to get the closer you get to December, so buying now is a good idea. So great to have some fun things ahead to look forward to!

  5. Hi Seana
    I seriously love that picture!
    Each year holiday cards get away from me.
    Getting them done early is so important because of the turnaround time. But somehow my teens (that send way too many Snapchats all year long) become camera shy at the mere mention of photos for the holidays.
    Go figure. 😉

    1. Teens and the annual Christmas photo are not a great combo. I can’t even get my family together much anymore. But hey, there is always a “montage” card… for which you can grab photos off of the kids FB page, right?

    1. Oka Sarah, you are making me laugh now. Really, it can be any little thing you can do. Even if you just pick one or two. For me, its the gifts and cards. If I can get that done, I feel much more relaxed… deep breath!

  6. {Kathy} Thank you for such a concise list. I always have on my calendar the 1st of October “Start thinking about Christmas pictures!”. It has taken me years to understanding that even THINKING about something ahead of time helps.

    1. Every little bit helps, right? If I can knock off one of the “major” tasks, then I’m ahead of the game. Because after all, I want to enjoy the holidays, not be completely stressed out. I love that you have a note about the holiday photo on your calendar – that rocks!

  7. Ugh, so many things to do and I can’t even wrap my head around the holidays this early. I probably should at least get my card done since the picture is taken already. Believe it or not, I do actually have some shopping done though! This is early for me!

    1. Well hey, congratulations on having some shopping done – that’s huge! anything we can remove from our December “to do” list is worth it. I’m not surprised that you have your photo taken.. and I’m sure its terrific:)

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