Week one of a 5-week to-do list to help you prepare for Christmas
Christmas Countdown Calendar: Week One
Christmas Countdown Calendar: Week Two
Christmas Countdown Calendar: Week Three
Christmas Countdown Calendar: Week Four
Christmas Countdown Calendar: Week Five
As of November 20, Christmas will be only a short five weeks away. Would you like to try for a stress-free holiday this year? If you hope to avoid those last minute hectic preparations, now is the time to start planning. When you take the time to plan it all out, it is easy to see how much there really is to do. By doing a little bit each week for the next five weeks, your holiday should be less frantic and more fantastic. From decorations to cooking to shopping, here are the things you should start doing this week to be ready by Christmas morning:
Determine What You Already Have and What You Will Need
Take inventory of any decorations, wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, tags, batteries and any other supplies you already have on hand for holiday preparations. Knowing what you already have will come in handy when creating your holiday budget and watching for sales on items you need. Use this holiday spending worksheet to help you budget for the many spending needs we have during the holiday season. Be sure to check the following:
Make sure you have sufficient wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, and tags. Or try alternative methods for gift wrapping this year.
How's your artificial tree? Is it in good enough shape for this year, or do you need to start looking for a new one?
Need new decorations? Make a list so you can keep an eye out for sales. Or plan to make homemade decorations this year.
- Perhaps you have accumulated way too many decorations over the years. Maybe it is time to clear out that Christmas clutter while taking inventory.
Untangle the lights and make sure they all work so you don't have to make a last minute run to get more when you're decorating the tree.
Make Your Gift-Giving List and Check It Twice
Sit down and figure out your gift-giving list. Be sure to consider family, friends, co-workers, teachers and anyone else you will be buying for as well as think about the following:
Have kids and other family members create a Christmas Wish List.
Take one evening and go through all of the holiday catalogs you have received in the mail. Even if you don't order from them, they can give you good ideas for gifts.
Anyone need new clothing? Make sure you know sizes.
Purchasing any gifts to donate to charity?
Don't forget to plan for stocking stuffers!
- And don't forget your postal carrier, stylist, newspaper carrier or anyone else to whom you like to give a holiday tip.
Determine your Christmas Card List
Make sure you have updated addresses for everyone on your list.
Decide how many stamps, cards and envelopes you will need.
Will you be purchasing cards or making your own?
Do you need to schedule a family photo or take one yourself for your cards?
Is your budget more than you can reasonably afford? Look for places to cut back.
Perhaps your kids can make a gift for their teacher instead of purchasing something.
Are there people on your Christmas card list who you have not spoken to since you sent a card last Christmas?
Perhaps adult family members would agree to drawing names this year instead of buying a gift for everyone.
- Budgeting sometimes takes creativity, so look at each category and figure out ways to have the Christmas you want at a price you can afford. And make sure you can get through the holiday season without accumulating a lot of debt. Take a look at these ideas and suggestions that can help you trim your holiday budget and be a smarter shopper this year.
- Are you hosting a holiday party or open house? Make that list as well so you can get invites out early!
- Start a holiday calendar to keep track of holiday parties, local community events, church programs and television specials you'd like to attend or watch this season. Don't forget to schedule a night to go out and look at Christmas lights!
- Pull out your holiday music and DVDs and start listening and watching to get in that holiday spirit.
- For more Christmas preparation tips, visit the TDS Christmas library section and the TDS Christmas page.
- Determine your budget with this holiday spending worksheet.
- 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.
Put Together Your Holiday Budget
Create your holiday budget. Be sure to plan for gifts, entertainment, travel, decorations, stamps, cards and any other expenditures you can think of. You do not have to determine your Christmas menu just yet, but don't forget to budget for holiday meals and baked goods. Be sure to consider the following so your budget is as complete as possible:
Other Things You Should Start Now
Take the Next Step:
Prices keep rising while my income remains stagnant and I worry I am heading for debt trouble. Tell us: Yes, I think I am heading for debt trouble and could use some help! or No, I am not in debt trouble but I am always looking for new ways to help keep my budget on track!
More Money-Saving Lifestyle Tips
- Best September bargains for thrifty shoppers
- 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
- 7 simple living lessons from Grandma
- Saving on home office software
- Being frugal without looking poor
- This week's Readers' Tips