It’s almost time for the most wonderful time of the year! Before you know it there will be holiday lights on every house, stockings hung from every chimney, and children dreaming of sugarplums every night (or toys, more likely). Whatever holiday(s) you celebrate, you’ll be celebrating soon. That is, unless you’re not a Scrooge who thinks spreading holiday cheer actually sucks, you’re getting excited about all of the activities coming up, from baking to parties to gift giving. Come to think of it, you actually have a lot to prepare for this season.
Santa isn’t the only one who should be making a list and checking it twice! While it may be a little too early to start decking the halls with boughs of holly, it’s not too early to start planning for it. The best way to stay on top of things is to be ahead of things. That way when the holidays roll around, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride, rather than stressing about buying last minute gifts or ruining the dessert. Here are 15 things you didn’t realize you have to do right now for the holidays:
1. Make an organized shopping list.
Think you’ll remember everything you need to buy between now and the new year? Think again. Start keeping track of all of the gifts you need to buy now, especially for those hard-to-shop-for folks on your list who take a little extra thought. Don’t just walk into the mall expecting to get it all in one fell swoop, either – you’ll probably have to hit up multiple stores, so planning early is a must.
2. Make a wish list for yourself.
Take some of the guesswork out of the process by actually having an answer when family and friends ask you want you want this year. Think of all the time you’ll save by not having to make any returns!
3. If you’re ordering gifts online, order them now.
If you’re shopping online, give yourself a lot of leeway for shipping, as the busy season may extend typical times. Especially if you’re ordering from a small retailer, the turnaround may take awhile. Don’t risk a late arrival.
4. Help your parents around the house without being asked.
Spoiler alert: Santa Claus isn’t real. But your parents are, and they’ll definitely appreciate you helping to cook and clean in the stressful weeks leading up to the holidays. Get in their good graces early and maybe you’ll find an extra treat or two under the tree.
5. If you’re planning on cooking, test the recipes now.
The holidays provide a great reason to step up your chef game. If you’re trying something new, test out the recipe ahead of the big family dinner. The prep might take longer than expected, you might realize you prefer one ingredient to another, or you might not like the dish at all. Plus, you’ll avoid any major cooking fails on the big day.
6. Write cards.
Nothing spreads holiday cheer like handwritten cards. If you don’t want to develop carpal tunnel, start writing early and spread it out. You also need to give time for the postal service to deliver, so stamp and send a couple weeks in advance.
7. Set up Secret Santa.
Getting a group of friends together and arranging a Secret Santa exchange can be a lot more fun (and less expensive!) than buying presents for each individual. Set up the plan early so people have time to do their shopping. It’s also best to set a price limit so everyone’s gifts are on the same level.
8. Plan a holiday party.
The better the plan, the better the party. Invite people early on before their schedules book up with other parties.
9. Make a study plan.
With all of the fun holiday activities going on, it’s easy to forget about the approach of finals. Don’t let your studies fall by the wayside while you’re busy celebrating, and block out times dedicated to schoolwork. Play Mariah Carey’s holiday album in the background to stay in the spirit!
10. Wrap gifts.
Don’t wait until the last minute and do a sloppy job. Especially don’t wait until the only wrapping paper left at the store is covered in snowmen that resemble demons.
11. Plan your holiday wardrobe.
You don’t want to be searching for your favorite party dress while everyone else is already having fun. Don’t discover all your tights have holes in them the night before. Going to an ugly sweater party? Hit up Good Will early before they’re all taken.
12. Make a New Year’s resolution.
It’s never too early to start improving yourself! Come up with a resolution that’s meaningful and make a plan for how you’ll stick with it.
13. Plan your mistletoe escape route.
Don’t get caught unprepared—prepare your “Oh sorry, I have to dash!” line now.
14. Practice your “Thank you, it’s perfect!” face.
Appreciate the gesture and smile sincerely, while inwardly hoping there’s a gift receipt in the box.
The holidays are a busy time—get your rest while you can!
Which of these things have you done already to prepare for the holidays? What did we forget? Tell us in the comments.