prepare tree for christmas

11 Simple Things to do to Prepare For Christmas Early

Christmas is coming!

I’m not one to prepare for Christmas early. Gifts are not purchased in August, I’m lucky if I buy them 2 weeks before the big day.  The tree and the lights aren’t up and sparkling right after Halloween.  Christmas music isn’t playing in my house to get into the spirit.  But I do several minor things to prepare for the Holidays beforehand.  Just so that life is a bit easier in all of the chaos that is involved with the Holidays.

Here are the things that I do before the Holiday season starts to prepare for Christmas.  And they all have a pretty good reason behind them.

xmas prep pin

Set up a Budget

When we were a young family, we didn’t realize how expensive Christmas was. We didn’t realize how big our families were, and we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. After our first Christmas when we spent over $1,000 on gifts for family, we realized that things had to change. And the first thing we needed to do was set up a budget for Christmas. How much money were we going to spend on this one day?

Some things you need to include in your budget planning:

  1. Gifts – How many gifts are you going to buy? Do you need to buy gifts for everyone? What is the price cap for each gift?
  2. Holiday decorations – Are you adding more decorations this year? How much do you intend to spend?
  3. Food – Are you hosting any events at your house? Are you making all of the food or are people contributing? How many people are coming?

These are the major items that cost money during the holidays, so you need to have a plan. And if you plan on spending lots of money for Christmas, it is a wise choice to have a savings fund in your annual budget to help you save for this throughout the year, instead of trying to find all this extra money a month beforehand.

Clean out old toys before Christmas Time

With a whole new array of toys arriving at Christmas, it is a good idea to go through all of your child’s old toys and either sell, donate or trash old toys. Toys that are not being used or played with, or are no longer age-appropriate. These toys will take up space, but they are not needed, and getting rid of them before Christmas will help you out and it may help out a family that is less fortunate than you. It can be an activity to do with your kids or while they are not paying attention, but this is a must on our things-to-do list before Christmas.

Put up the Christmas lights

Where I live, it gets COLD.  And putting up Christmas lights in the cold is NOT FUN!  So, there are usually one or two warm-ish days in late November where you can work outside without freezing your fingers off.  I take this opportunity to put up the lights.  I string them on the house, the trees, the bushes, the pillars, the works.  Think of the Grizwalds.  Bright, bright, bright.  

I get the lights all set up.  I check all the strands to make sure they work.  And then I leave it.  I don’t plug them in again until December.    They are only up early because I hate working outside with lights in the cold.

prepare lights for Christmas

letter To Santa

Make an evening or afternoon activity out of it!  Sit down at the table and write a letter to Santa!  If you get the letter mailed before December 10th, Santa should get back to you before Xmas!

Santas Address, just in case 😉 

           Santa Clause,

           North Pole, 


          HO HO HO

It’s always nice to have some catalogs for the kids to look through, in case they don’t know off the top of their heads!  We’ve been receiving them in the mail from companies like Indigo, and Mastermind Toys and they are stocked with toys!

Letter To Grand-Santa – AKA Grandparents

Make a list of all the gifts you want for your kids. If you wrote the letter to Santa above, this should be easy.  But also include all the clothes, and little trinkets, everything. Get this list to the grandparents ASAP. Grandmothers have an affinity to prepare for Christmas early and buy gifts in August.  You don’t want to be stuck with presents your kids don’t like, or clothes that are too small (and you’ll be stuck having to return them). Get a list to them.  You can even put their names on it, like gift A from Grandma A, and so on. Y can download a free Xmas list below if you need help with this!

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Holiday Cards

I will do one of 2 things with cards.  I will either: buy discounted cards at the end of the season to use the following year, or I will make cards in advance with the kids. Or both.

But as the season is already upon us, buying cards last year might be a bit tricky (unless you have a time machine… in which case we should talk). 

But if you happen to have some leftover from last year or you make your own cards, it’s not much work to write a card or two a night (with a glass of wine or beer in hand).  You can start this early as you say the same thing every year.  And let’s be honest, it’s not like something crazy exciting is going to happen between now and Christmas.  So knock some cards out, and before you know it, they’re all done.

prepare for christmas cards

If you are more crafty and want to make cards, you can do it yourself or have your kids help.  Check out this How-To on making your own cards.

Set up the tree

Nothing says Christmas like a decorated Christmas Tree.  I set the tree up on the first Saturday of December.  Things aren’t as chaotic yet, so this is an excellent time to get this done.  And with the kids around, this can become a whole day event.

We put up the tree, the stocking, the garland, and make the house festive.  Doing decorations inside the house can be done at any point as it’s nice and warm inside.

prepare tree for christmas

Holiday Pictures

If you have gathered anything about me so far, it’s that I’m not really interested in spending money needlessly, so I do my own Holiday pictures.  With 3 kids, even a professional photographer will have a challenge getting them all to face the camera.  But taking your own pictures always shows a bit more of the kids’ personalities.

After the Christmas Tree is up (Saturday), we stage the Pictures for Sunday.  There’s no need to go to the gym on this day.  Getting everyone into nice outfits and wrangling them around the tree for a 20-minute photoshoot will work up quite the sweat!  And before you know it, you’ll have 300 pictures taken.  200 will be blurry, 75 will have someone/everyone crying or screaming, 20 will have 1-2 kids smiling/looking vaguely at the camera.  1-2 will be usable.  That’s all you need!

Also, doing your own photoshoot can help keep your Christmas budget in check.

christmas pictures

As much fun as the Christmas photos can be, I always throw in additional pictures of what happened during the year.  Especially for  family and friends who live abroad and who don’t get to see the kids.  I will search for these pictures in advance, and sometimes I’ll even mark them as a favorite when I’m taking them.  This way they can be found easily during the Holiday picture printing.

Since these pictures happen on the first weekend of the month, I will quickly send them to print somewhere and pick them up on the following weekend.

Once these pictures are picked up, they all get shoved into the pre-made cards and sent out with plenty of time to get anywhere before the holiday season gets started.

Advent Calendar/Holiday Calendar

Get advent calendars for you and the kids!   You don’t have to be religious to get these.  They sell them at all stores, and they sell Holiday Countdown Calendars as well.  There are lots of shapes and sizes.   Kids love little ones with chocolates or gifts in them.  And adults love adult advent calendars. Check out some of the ones I have made over the years:

advent beer calendar assembly

Buy Gifts for the Kids

The last thing on your list of things to do to prepare for Christmas is to get Xmas gifts!  We always do minimal presents as the kids get spoiled by the grandparents, so there’s never much that we need to get them, but Amazon is great for that! Check out this list of STEM kids gifts that are great for all kids, big and small! Or you can brave the stores.

Make Homemade Gifts

Not everyone can afford to buy the latest and greatest gifts, and sometimes you can’t buy something for that special person who already has everything. This is a great opportunity to make a homemade gift. Homemade gifts can be started early in the season, or even months in advance, and really show how special someone is to you. Check out my Ins and Outs of Homemade Gifts Here to learn some tips.

You’re Ready!

Now you’re ready to win Christmas!  You have the major pieces all in place!  The heavy lifting is done, and now you can sit back and relax… 

Final Thoughts on Preparing for Christmas Early

As I mentioned above, I’m not one to start planning for Christmas very early, but something I have learned over the years

  1. Right after Christmas is a great time to buy the end-of-season, very discounted holiday cards and wrapping paper. This is may seem crazy early to start buying, but if you stock up right after Christmas, you can pack it all away if your decorations and it will be ready when you start up next season.
  2. Keeping Christmas simple is key. It is important to remember that it is about spending time with family and friends, not spending money and stress on them. If you keep it simple, it will be much more enjoyable.
  3. Every year Christmas is a learning experience. There is no point stressing out over the worst Christmas because most people will not remember it that way.

Was this List Helpful?

Did you find this list of things to prepare for Christmas helpful?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

If you liked this list, be sure to check posts like this one here.

Was this Helpful?

Did you find this list helpful?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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18 thoughts on “11 Simple Things to do to Prepare For Christmas Early”

  1. I’m glad you reminded me of Christmas cards. I also usually buy mine on sale at the end of the season for the next year. Of course, I’m the person that also shops in January for Christmas presents! Great tips.

  2. I feel like I’m almost there! Just need to get started on the Christmas cards asap – especially for overseas! Now I’m off to the advent calendar for my daily treat!!

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