Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Top 10 Things to do in October to get ready for Christmas

Yup, you read that title right, getting ready for Christmas in October. No, I'm not saying let's get that tree up just yet, but there are many steps you can take now to save you time and a headache at the end of December.

#1 Do you regularly shop at big discount stores like Target or Walmart? If so, every time you are there picking up groceries or paper towels, check out the clearance sections at the back of the isles. Sheet sets are always a good gift and at half price even better. What about sweaters that are already getting marked down? Canning supplies tend to go on clearance in October. But you don't can? Those canning jars make great teacher gifts filled with hot cocoa and marshmallows, or even just candy with a ribbon. Check out those clearance areas and look at items in ways that they are not first intended for, you may come up with some great gifting ideas.

#2 While you are at Target or Walmart, start looking for stocking stuffers! These little trinkets and toys can be bought anytime of the year. Water bottles on sale, grab a few. Socks and undies on sale, grab a few. Yes, my kids all get a pair of socks and pair of undies every Christmas in their stockings. How about after Halloween candy that isn't orange colored? Those work great as fillers in stockings. Think outside the box and get that stocking shopping done early so you don't have to try to find things "just to fill it" that will cost you double in December.

#3 Christmas Cookies! Now there are two ways you can attack baking Christmas cookies. You can either make them all now and freeze all of them to be ready to dole out on Christmas Eve, or you can pre-bake and freeze the sugar or gingerbread cookies - thaw them out in December - and then just decorate them with the kids (grandkids). Either way, get baking now in October and get that off your plate in December. Click here for a link to Betty Crocker's web page and directions on how to freeze cookie dough. 

#4 Christmas lights. I hate to admit this, but I get very excited when my local home improvement store sets out their Christmas string lights for the season. I live in Minnesota, so hanging Christmas lights normally happens on November 1st while taking down the Halloween decorations. I do not turn them on until Thanksgiving, after dinner, but they are hung and ready right after Halloween. If you hang orange lights from your house for Halloween, try to use the same clips and just switch out the lights. You're already up on the ladder, why do that twice?

#5 Wrapping Paper. Now is a good time to go through all your Christmas wrapping paper (and bags) stash to see what you have. You will be better prepared for that last minute wrapping job if you know what you have in the house now. Make sure you have paper, bows, tags, bags, tissue and lots of tape. If you are like me, check where you put your 75% off paper you bought last year in January so that you have it all in one place. Refill your supply as needed when they go on deep discount on Black Friday. And be sure to check again after Christmas and stock up on December 26th!

#6 Handmade Gifts. Oh boy. If you like to make handmade gifts, I hope you have started already. There is nothing like the stress of trying to complete that quilt or afghan two days before Christmas. If you haven't started your handmade gifts, start ASAP!

#7 Start making your lists. I personally have a gift idea list on my Google Drive going all year round. If I see something that I know one of the kids would love, but can't purchase it right now, I add it to the list. I am getting old, I can't remember all these little things anymore, so I have lists for everything. Lists are not just for gift giving either. List out your menus, decorations you want to purchase, trips you will be taking, anything. Write it down now, so you won't forget it later.

#8 Gift Cards. My health insurance has a program where if you fill out a survey you receive a $20 gift card to the store of your choice. Do some easy online activities, receive another $20 gift card, and so on, up to $100 worth of cards. There is two different ways to play this. One, use those gift cards to purchase gifts. Or, two, use those cards as the gift. I personally got $20 gift cards for all the kids (and boy/girl friends) to their favorite stores and am putting them in their stockings. But just think of how far you could spread $100 in gift cards. Plus, do you shop at Target and take advantage of their $5 gift cards when you buy 4 shampoos and items like that? You can put them all together to purchase a larger gift card, maybe with a Christmas theme, and pay for it with the $5 cards you have been saving all year. You can also do that in store with e-cards. Use that e-card to purchase a physical card to be given as a gift. Or use all those Target $5 cards to purchase a gift card to a restaurant. They sell restaurant gift cards by the registers. Oh the possibilities are endless with gift cards.

#9 Christmas Cards. Start looking through those pictures you took all year long to start planning out your family Christmas cards. The sooner you get them ordered, delivered to you, addressed and stamped the better you will feel. Nobody said you couldn't have your stack of Christmas cards done and ready for the mailbox in October. Just don't mail them until after Thanksgiving!

#10 Where did I hide that present? This one is hard for me. In our new house I don't have as many great hiding spots. I would suggest that you find one great spot and stick with that one. Everything you are purchasing early, put in that spot. If there is room, organize it by person, or by stocking vs presents to make it easier to see what is still needed. Don't hide in more than one spot if you can help it. Trust me, I was looking for items I knew were all together on Christmas Eve morning a few years ago. I found them, but that was way too much stress that I didn't need if I was more organized in the beginning.

There you have it. The top 10 things to do in October to get ready for Christmas. There are many other tricks and tips that could be used for also, this is just the list I personally go by. What are some tricks you use to get ready and organized early for Christmas?

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