Is It Too Early for Holiday Preparation and Planning?

I happen to be one of those people who believes that nothing regarding the holidays should make an appearance until after Halloween. Sorry – – call me old school, but that’s just how my holiday clock works.  Plus, having raised three children, I can tell you that I certainly didn’t have the bandwidth to even think about the holidays until after all the spook decorations, costumes, and candy were out of sight! (Can I get an Amen, somebody?)

Having said all that, I realize that we live in a time where the holidays are almost a shameless, unapologetic, year-round insertion into our lives. For example, the Hallmark Channel has “Christmas in July” movie marathons, retail websites have “Black Friday” sales throughout the year (not just on the day after Thanksgiving), major film producers promote the latest holiday movies as early as August, and you can hardly walk through stores like Big Lots and Costco in late summer without being greeted by aisles of holiday merchandise.  All reminders that the holidays are “just around the corner!” (Really?)

Okay, okay. I’ll stop.

If you happen to be one of Santa’s year-round helpers, a holiday cheerleader, or otherwise have a holiday sweater collection that you break out as soon as the weather drops below 80 degrees, the following tips to help get ready for the holidays are for you.  And maybe for the rest of us as well.

Planning Your Decorations

Check to see if any are broken, damaged, or just past their prime.

Check to see if you need new or more ornament hangers (those little suckers were there last year, dang it – where did they go??)

Test the holiday lights. For some reason, they like to have a party and get all snuggled up together after I put them away (I swear, they were organized and separate when I put them in the box).

Consider gifting all of the kids’ decorations to them. When my children started moving out of the house, the first housewarming present I gave them was a wrapped gift box full of all the ornaments and decorations they had made over the years and the ones that we had bought them. They absolutely LOVED it. It helped me lighten my holiday decoration load, plus it gave them a start for decorating their own first space.

Do the stockings or tree skirts need to be cleaned?  What about the holiday tablecloths, napkins, mantle scarf, or festive dish towels? Nothing dampens the decorating spirit like having to stop and clean everything.

Refresh things like wreaths and flower arrangements. Dust them off, add some new glitter, give it a new bow or garland, change out the flowers, add fairy lights, etc.

Is it time to buy new decorations? Think about what you really want. If you want to decorate like Joanna Gaines or Martha Stewart, go for it – – you can probably find some good deals this time of year.

Oragnize, organize, organize! Get the Rubbermaid bins. I promise you will thank me later.

Shopping/Gift Giving

My number one, all-time best tip for shopping and gift giving – – GET/MAKE A LIST!  Yes, I am shouting.  Sorry about that, but I need you to hear me on this one. So many of us spend hours online or in the stores trying to figure out what to give our loved ones, or worse, trying to find that “perfect” gift. Just ask them what’s on their wish list! Obviously, this is easier and more practical to do with family than friends, but you will be so happy you did this (and so will they), and you exponentially reduce the chance that something isn’t exactly their cup of tea and the need to return/exchange. You can also keep a running list of things you think of, see, or have heard them mention that you think would make good gift options. Also, if they have an online wish list, have them share it with you.

Rather than buying and shopping all year long, storing the gifts until you’re ready to ship, going to the post office or FedEx or UPS and standing in line to get your packages shipped (which I did for years and thought I was being oh-so-smart), consider using retailers who direct ship. Amazon is a great example of this – – you pick out what you want to buy, then select the option to have it shipped directly to the recipient.  What a concept! They will even gift-wrap it and include a card if you choose to add that. It saves a ton of time and frees up your closet so you can buy more holiday sweaters!

Decide ahead of time how you will do your gift-giving. If you have a large and extended family, consider the idea of drawing names.  People have been doing this forever, and it seems to be a good solution for a lot of folks. Or if there are a lot of little ones in the family, perhaps just buy for the kids. Do whatever works for your bunch, but discuss it with everyone ahead of time. It definitely helps with gift planning and eliminates potential confusion/frustration during the holiday season when everyone is already pretty stressed.

Check your stock of gift boxes, wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper, bows, ribbons, gift tags, and tape. Stock up now if you are running low.


Who’s hosting? Maybe your family always goes to your house, your in-laws’ house, or another traditional location for celebrating. For those of you who always have to ask every year, “who’s doing Thanksgiving” or “who’s doing Hannukah,” how about checking this off your list early on?

Speaking of hosting, whoever is hosting should not be the one doing the clean-up. Everyone needs to pitch in, or part of your discussion about hosting can include who to assign as members of the clean-up crew. Include the littles, as well as the bigs (preschoolers to teens) and get them in on the action – – even if it’s little things like folding all the empty gift bags, collecting all the torn wrapping paper and putting it in the trash, etc. This will definitely make the hosts happy.  And happy hosts can become repeat hosts!

If you are hosting, start planning things like what linens you will use, serving ware, candles, and the like. (Oh, dear – – where did I put those chafing dishes?)

Some other things to consider:

Parking – Can you accommodate all the vehicles, or do you need a valet service? Just kidding.

Seating – Do you have enough seating/chairs for everyone? Do you need to borrow some or buy some?

Tables – Again, do you have enough room for everyone, or do you need to add some tables?

Overnight or Extended Stay Guests – Will you have people staying at your home? If so, create a checklist of things you need to do and then do them before you are knee-deep in holiday chores. Include things such as changing the bed linens, putting out fresh towels and extra blankets and pillows, clearing closet and drawer space, adding a night light (very important for the littles), adding a scented candle or a little holiday décor, sprucing up the guest bathroom, and clearing out items that are being stored in the guest room and taking up space.

One more option to consider is an Air B-N-B, VRBO, or other vacation rental. This can be a really great and fun way to do the holidays and it makes EVERYONE the hosts. No one is having to spend two weeks cleaning their house and getting ready for guests, killing themselves to make everything perfect, and then being exhausted or not getting to enjoy all the fun.

Food Planning

Banquet, Pot Luck, or Buffet Style. Will you have the food on the table or will you be doing your own version of Golden Corral? Regardless of whether it’s a potluck or you do all of the cooking yourself, knowing where you want the food set out ahead of time allows you to plan your food space, the type of serving dishes you will use, etc.

Special Dietary Needs. If you are doing all of the cooking, find out ahead of time who has any special needs, allergies, dietary restrictions, and such. This will give you time to research recipes or purchase foods that they are able to enjoy. It is not impolite to ask that person to suggest foods they can/cannot eat, nor is it impolite to suggest they bring a dish or two if they prefer.

Shopping. If you have a deep freezer (or a deep pantry), there are foods you can purchase ahead of time to make your holiday meal shopping easier. Stuffing mix, canned goods, broth, spices and such can be stored for quite a while, so stock up if you can. Frozen veggies, bread, milk, meats (like chicken, sausage, ground beef), frozen mire pois (celery, carrots, and onion) and other similar items will make your holiday meal preparation so much easier if you are able to store them and have them ready to use. Buying and stocking up ahead of time eliminates the shopping frenzy during the holiday rush, as well as the chance that the store might be out of what you need by the time you are able to get there.

Menu – This is one that always gets me. I love to cook and would love to change up the menu so that my table looks like it belongs on the cover of Bon Appetit, but my family loves all the same old things I have made for years. And that’s part of what makes the holidays so special, right? Tradition is important, so I don’t vary my menu too much during the holidays.  However, if you have an adventurous bunch that doesn’t really mind parting with tradition, start thinking about your menu early on.  If it’s a dish you’ve never made before, I HIGHLY recommend making it a few weeks before the big meal so you can try it out and make sure it’s going to be a winner.  Or, as I mentioned previously, think about doing your meal potluck style. I love this idea, because then I get to try foods that other people have made.

Leftovers – Who doesn’t love holiday leftovers?? Be ready to send your guests home with care packages by getting some to-go plastic containers ahead of time.  You can order them online or find them at discount stores such as Walmart, Target, and even the dollar stores. I love doing this because it’s less food I have to worry about storing in my fridge, and I get to send everybody home with a little luvin from my oven!


If you found this article helpful (and outrageously funny), let us know by posting a comment in the general channel of LPI’s new online Community Forum. 😊


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