Week two of a 5-week to-do list to help you prepare for Christmas
Christmas Countdown Calendar: Week Two
Christmas Countdown Calendar: Week One
Christmas Countdown Calendar: Week Three
Christmas Countdown Calendar: Week Four
Christmas Countdown Calendar: Week Five
November 27 will begin the four-week countdown until Christmas morning. Now is the time to begin food planning, shopping and preparation. By figuring out menus now, you can start watching for grocery sales on the food items you need and you can get some of the cooking and baking finished and into the freezer. You also want to start your gift shopping this week to avoid the crowds not only at the stores, but at the post office as well if you are shipping any gifts. And if you are traveling over the holidays, now is the time to make plans and reservations. Here is the complete list of tasks you might want to do this week:
Make a Baking Plan
Choose the items you'll be baking this year. Don't forget anything you need to make for school or office holiday parties, desserts for holiday meals, or baked goods you will be giving as gifts.
Pull out each recipe and determine what ingredients you'll need. Take a look at the TDS holiday baking section for some ideas.
Inventory your pantry to see what you have on hand and then make a list of what you'll need to purchase. Do you have any coupons for anything you need?
Grocery stores often have baking supplies and ingredients on sale this time of year so watch the ads but do try to get to the store sooner in the season than later so you have plenty of time to bake and enjoy!
Don't have the time to do the baking all on your own? Organize a cookie swap with friends and neighbors! It is a fun way to get a wide variety of cookies for sharing and enjoying.
- Create a schedule to determine what you will bake and when and then stick to it.
Plan Your Holiday Meals
Take the time to plan any meals you will be cooking for Christmas Eve and Chrsitmas Day. Don't forget about breakfast or brunch if you are serving a Christmas morning meal in addition to dinner.
Select any make-ahead recipes you know you'll be cooking. Perhaps you'll want to search online for some new ones this year.
Once again, pull out your recipes and inventory your ingredients to see what you'll need to buy so you can look for coupons and watch for things to be on sale.
Get to the store sooner rather than later so you are not stuck with a lot of last-minute cooking.
Do you need to clean out your freezer of fridge so you have room to store everything you cook ahead?
Create a schedule to determine what you will cook and when and then stick to it.
If you're having guests at any of your holiday meals, decide if you want them to bring something and let them know so they can plan, too.
- Will you need paper goods or plastic ware in order to feed all of your guests?
- Don't forget to plan for holiday beverages. Try one of these festive party punch recipes, mulled cider, or spiced rum cider. And be sure to have some hot chocolate on hand!
This year you can beat those last-minute shopper crowds by getting your shopping done early. Try to hit the stores after work or when you are running errands so you do not have to make extra trips. Just make sure you are sticking to your shopping lists and your budget. These holiday shopping tips can help you stay on track.
If you have out of town family to buy for, put shopping for them at the top of your list to avoid the last minute panic of getting their gifts shipped in time.
Are you donating any gifts for charity? Often these organizations need gifts earlier than later to allow time for distribution so put these at the top of your list as well.
Start an envelope to store shopping receipts so you can track purchases or make returns after the holidays.
If you are sending out regular Christmas cards, don't forget to pick them up so you have plenty of time to get them sent out.
Other Things You Should Start Now
- If you are taking your own family photo for your Christmas cards, try to take it this week so you have time to order prints and/or cards. Click here for some pointers. A good online source for ordering photo prints and/or cards is Snapfish.
- Wrap gifts as you buy them so you do not get overwhelmed trying to wrap everything at once or at the last minute.
- Get to the post office and mail any out-of-town gifts you already have purchased to avoid those last-minute long lines at the Post Office.
- Will your family travel over the holidays? Make travel plans any reservations now if you have not already done so.
- Reserve baby-sitters for any nights out planned without the kids.
- If hosting a holiday party or open house, send out invites or evites.
Debt is preventing me from taking a vacation this year or the vacation I'd like to take this year! Tell us: Yes, debt is affecting my vacation plans! or No, we're going exactly where we want to go but we'd love to learn make our trip as inexpensive as possible!
Take the Next Step:
- For more Christmas preparation tips, visit the TDS Christmas library section and the TDS Christmas page.
- Follow our Pinterest holiday boards: DIY Holiday Gifts, Cheap Christmas Ideas, and Preparing for a Frugal Holiday Season.
- Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.
- Subscribe today to get your free Dollar Stretcher Tips email newsletter. Twice each week we'll share great ideas from our readers. Everything from auto insurance to weddings to help you live better for less.
More Money-Saving Lifestyle Tips
- 5 things that cost too much in June
- 4 steps to a simpler (and more frugal) life
- 6 tips for a fabulously free vacation
- Secrets to living luxuriously for less
- Money-saving secrets of the rich and frugal
- 4 secrets to being a frugal foodie
- 10 ways to save on natural skincare
- Buy generic? Or not?
- How to throw an awesome party on the cheap