Week two of a 5-week to-do list to help you prepare for Christmas

Christmas Countdown Calendar: Week Two

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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:

  • Choose the items you'll be baking this year.

    • Pull out each recipe and determine what ingredients you'll need.

    • 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 all your holiday meals now.

    • Select any make-ahead recipes you know you'll be cooking.

    • Once again, pull out your recipes and inventory your ingredients to see what you'll need to buy.

    • 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.

  • Make the Christmas dinner menu and start watching for sales on what you will need. If you're having guests, decide if you want them to bring something and let them know so they can plan, too.

  • Start shopping. Try to hit the stores after work or when you are running errands so you do not have to make extra trips.

    • 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.

  • 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 and reservations now if you have not already done so.

  • Reserve baby-sitters for any nights out planned without the kids.

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