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Christmas is Coming! Christmas is Coming!

It’s December 1st and holiday prep has gone into high gear. The holiday cards need to be sent out, decorations put up, presents wrapped, cookies baked and all those last minute projects finished off. All with one less week than usual because Thanksgiving was late this year. Pulling your hair out yet? I was a little freaked out this weekend with everything that has to get done, especially when I realized there really are only 24 days to go. (I kept forgetting that there wouldn’t be that extra week, but what can you do.) So today I had to start planning out everything that needed to get done and the best way to get it all done. This month I am going to dedicate each week to a different holiday prep topic. And different ideas to keep you going. So sit back relax, put on some holiday music or #CountdowntoChristmas on the Hallmark Channel and let’s get started!

First up, holiday cards. A few years ago I started cutting back tremendously on who I sent Christmas cards. I used to send them out to everyone in my address book and it took one night to write them all out and another to do all the addressing. Now though I only send them out to family, and good friends. It cut down on the number of cards that had to be sent out and the amount of time it took to prep them all. Thankfully this year I made cards earlier in November that I can use for the holidays. If you don’t have any made don’t sweat, you still have time to do a photo card (may I suggest Costco, they will be ready in about an hour), or if you don’t need too many, create some basic homemade cards to send out. If it still sounds too daunting I would suggest doing New Year’s cards. They actually have a few advantages, they are non-denominational so they work well for everyone, and they can arrive anytime in the first week or so of the New Year without being late (always a wonderful thing). They really are the perfect choice if you want to put off doing your cards until Christmas week.

Next up, gift prep. (So I am going to preface this by saying that right now my immediate and extended family consists entirely or adults and children under 5, which means yes you need something small for the little ones to unwrap but you can focus more on what people could use rather than the latest toy trends.) I am a big believer in the power of a gift card. I know people say they are impersonal and not a thoughtful gift but I disagree, I think a gift card can be the most thoughtful gift of all. For new parents a gift card to a local restaurant (and your agreement to babysit for a night) can be a wonderful treat that they wouldn’t give themselves. The same goes for a couple saving for their wedding or those single friends and relatives trying to pay down student loan debt. The other advantage you have with gift cards is that they are easy to mail or pack if you need to travel for the holidays.

But what if you really want to give gifts or you are the one on a budget? Then I would like to suggest holiday goodie gift bags. I prep these for a few different people and they are a lot of fun to put together. Over several weeks I pick up different holiday themed goodies and seasonal items at different stores. Things like candy cane tea, cake mixes, meringues and more. I do a lot out of it at Trader Joe's but will also get things at World Market, Costco and a few other stores. The biggest advantage of doing this is you can spread the cost of purchasing over several weeks and can look at more sales. You can also supplement with homemade cookies (just remember to make them close to when you are giving the gifts!) I would recommend a harder cookie like biscotti or shortbread which will stay fresh longer. (recipes to come later this month!) And for wrapping I always get reusable shopping bags so that even the packing can be used, and you don’t have to make a special stop to pick them up (always wonderful to cut down on the number of stores).

I hope you find some of these ideas useful and have a great kick off to the holiday season. Next up we will be tackling decorations, custom ornaments are easier than you think. Hope to see you back soon!

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