I love January. The holidays are over. It’s the best time for a fresh start. I love pulling down holiday decorations and feeling the freshness in my home. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. Just ask my husband. I’m ready to start singing Christmas music every September. It really helps me prepare for Christmas. But, as you put away holiday decorations at the beginning of the year, it’s also a great time to start getting ready for next Christmas. It might make you want to cringe, but January is the best time to start thinking about next Christmas. Let me tell you why I start my Christmas preparations before I even get a chance to take down last year’s Christmas tree.
Organize and de-clutter holiday decor now to prepare for Christmas
Imagine this common scenario. It’s December. You have braved the ladder to the attic so you could get to your holiday boxes and bins. You are ready to start decorating for the holidays. Unfortunately, the balled up Christmas lights don’t work and your stockings are stained from the candy goobers your toddler left there last Christmas morning. During the busiest time of the year, it’s not fun to run out to the store to replace last year’s broken or worn holiday decorations. Thankfully, you can avoid that extra stress next year by planning now. Instead of pulling down holiday decorations and stowing them away without a care, take your time. Double check your strands of lights. Wrap things up carefully so they don’t get tangled. Make a list of items that need to be replaced or fixed.
Shop Christmas clearance items
The best Christmas deals happen right after Christmas is over. My husband and I have made a habit of shopping clearance sales after Christmas. It saves us a lot of money every year. You can often get wrapping paper, tape, Christmas decor items, and even holiday necessities like cookie cutters and treat bags for 50-70% off. I’ve even found things like holiday pajamas and ugly Christmas sweaters for much, much cheaper than you can get them in December. Take advantage of the clearance sales and restock your holiday essentials.
Determine a Christmas budget
January is the time when most people are paying for last Christmas. It’s not uncommon for families to spend most of January (or longer) paying off the debt they went into for Christmas. Instead of letting this happen next year, determine a Christmas budget now. If you don’t know what budget to set, think back to the past month and track your spending. Then, set a budget for the next year.
Set up automatic savings now so you’ll have a Christmas budget later
Now that you have a Christmas budget, you need money to supply that budget. If you don’t have a good way to save for Christmas, it won’t happen. In our family, have an online savings account that is separate from our regular banking account. We take our yearly Christmas budget, and divide it by 12. That number is the amount of money we transfer every month into our savings account. It is an automatic transfer. We don’t have to think about that money or give ourselves a chance to rationalize saving vs. spending the money.
Shopping for deals throughout the year will help you prepare for Christmas
The nice thing about starting your Christmas shopping “early” is that you have all year to shop for deals. If that perfect gift for your mother-in-law goes on sale in August, you’ll have the money and the time to pick it up. If you shop deals throughout the year, you might even spend less money overall. Plus, you’ll have less shopping to do come December.
Start now to give yourself time to make homemade gifts
We love handmade gifts in our family. Our kids do a sibling gift exchange every Christmas Eve. The gifts are all homemade gifts. We love making things for each other, for our neighbors, friends, and family members. December is so busy that it’s nearly impossible to finish a lot of handmade gifts. When you start early, you have time to hand make the gifts that you want to make. You’ll also have time to shop for deals on supplies and anything you might need.
Preparing early for Christmas means avoiding stress
I don’t know about you, but getting ready for Christmas stresses me out. From decorating, advent calendars, family traditions, and baking, to holiday parties and Christmas cards. Not to mention buying gifts for neighbors, friends, family members, extended family members, and co-workers. When you add it all together, it makes for a busy holiday season. But early preparation means avoiding stress. If you have saved money, gifts bought or made, and a fresh supply of wrapping paper already bought, your holiday season is going to be more joyful. You’ll be able to really focus on the important parts of the holiday.
Need more holiday ideas? Read Ways to reconnect with your spouse for the holidays
It might seem silly or repetitive to start preparing for next Christmas in January but starting now will help you be ready for the holiday season at the end of the year. You’ll have plenty of time to save money, gather needed items, and shop for the perfect gifts without feeling stressed or overwhelmed.