I don’t know about you, but I hate to be stressed out! I try to plan ahead but things inevitably come up last minute, so I find that being prepared allows me to take on those last minute stressors with ease.  Holidays add a whole new layer with buying (and wrapping) gifts, holiday parties and events, decorating the house, and meal planning! So I’ve come up with 7 ways that I plan ahead…I hope some of these ideas can help you too!

Use a rewards credit card

I use my WellsFargo Reward Credit Card throughout the year and pay the balance off each month to prevent accruing interest.  Each August I go through my Rewards account and “cash in” points for Amazon gift cards.  I then use those gift cards for purchasing Christmas gifts.  One year I had $950 in Amazon Gift Cards just from points alone! FREE MONEY!

Shop in September and October

I sit down with each of the kids individually in September (about 3-4 weeks after school has started and we are back into a routine!)  and get an idea of what they would like for Christmas.  It gives me a chance to connect with them, find out what music they are listening too, what they are watching on TV or YouTube, things that their friends have and use which they would like, and anything they think they need (like clothing!)  I also always keep money set aside for “last minute” wishes!  I also keep a tin Christmas box for each of them, go to the bank and get money in $1 bills, then give them a box of cash! It is fun for them to count all the $1 bills.

Hire a student to wrap your gifts

I do most of my shopping online and only go out for “special requests” that I can’t find! By doing this in advance,  I have plenty of time to shop the deals! I save any electronics or pricey items for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, and have everything purchased by the first of December.  I choose a time when the kids are not around and organize: did I get what I needed for each of the kids? Did I remember teacher gifts? Extended family? Then I placed all of the gifts in labeled bins.  Once I determine that I am all set, I hire a high school student to come over and wrap gifts for me!

Buy wrapping paper, bows, Christmas cards at the end of the Christmas season

This one seems obvious and I would LOVE to buy EVERYTHING one year in advance to get a deal!  I have done it with Christmas decorations (or buying beautiful ornaments to keep for future gifts) but each year, I wait until the wrapping paper and bows are on STEEP discount (75% last year in the Kmart store!) and stock up! I have a wrapping paper bin that allows me to keep everything nice and neat for the next year and I save a bunch of money.

Use Ebates or other CashBack sites

I only recently discovered CashBack deal sites, but made almost $60 from Christmas gifts.  You can use this site to see where you can get the most money back!

Mix and freeze cookie dough

I love bringing a plate of beautifully assorted Christmas cookies to a friend or neighbor to say Happy Holidays.  But with so many events to run to, I don’t have time to stay in the kitchen all day! So, I periodically make a batch of cookie dough, roll it into a “log” that will bake about 12 cookies, and wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it! I put the cookie “rolls” in  Ziploc bags and label them for the freezer, that way I can pull out just one roll and slice it, bake it, and take it along in only 15 minutes! Whew.

Keep a Christmas Giving List

With so many things going on, it is easy to forget about something….did I remember Secret Santa gifts for work? Teacher gifts? Aunt Martha??  I keep a list, add to it as needed and keep it in a laminated pocket in with my Christmas decorations and take it out each year when it is needed! Having a list takes the stress out of having to think and plan for the holidays.

I hope this helps to give you ideas for your own pre-holiday planning to keep your stress level low so that you can ENJOY the holiday season and take on last minute stressors with ease.  If you have any other suggestions, don’t forget to leave them below!

Hello! My name is Sarah and I am a Wellness Coach and Healthcare Provider with 15 years of experience. I am passionate about intentional, balanced living and created this blog to help others live a mindful life focussed on Self Care! Here you will find resources covering topics from health, finance, self-discovery, psychology, to balance, mindfulness, and intentional living. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions.

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