It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . . . everywhere but at our house! While I am seeing so many lights and decorations in my neighborhood as well as cute blogs showcasing elegant homes and decorations, we have yet to put out a single decoration! While the holiday cards are already rolling in, we have just started our shopping and are currently on the Type B path to Christmas.
If you are in a similar boat, take heart in the following:
1) “Christmas” in many cultures and religions starts on Christmas Day and continues for the 12 days following Christmas. On this schedule, Christmas “ends” January 6. So you can still get 30 days enjoyment out of your decorations if you start today!
2) There might be a safety advantage to starting a little later in your decorations if you are using a live tree.
“Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks.”
—Focus on Fire Safety: Holiday Fire Safety, U.S. Fire Administration
3) If you missed out on Black Friday sales, you might not have missed much and some of the best shopping bargains are only coming out now! When I spot-checked prices over Thanksgiving weekend, I didn’t find any sales that I found irresistible and even found that one sneaky retailer actually increased prices by 5-20% over Black Friday weekend and has only recently lowered them back down to where they were before the holiday season.
The “holiday season” is one long marathon from Halloween to Christmas and by this stage in the game we are a little tired. We enjoy the Christmas season, however, and we actually have done some things to prepare:
1) Months ago, we booked season tickets to the ballet, including my holiday tradition with my girls, attending the Nutcracker.
2) Around Thanksgiving, we negotiated with both sides of our family regarding gift giving lists for the holiday season. You may recall that last year, we implemented “No gifts.” This year we are trying “kids only” on one side and “draw a family for a family gift” on the other. This cut our shopping time and general holiday stress by 90%.
3) We booked activities with our children for each weekend in December. Last weekend, was the Christmas parade, this weekend the Santa Train and next weekend, the Nutcracker. We are trying to be out and about enjoying the season.
However, there is still a ton left to do and the time windows for certain activities are closing fast. Keeping track of priority deadlines is required at this point. If you need a quick checklist (like I do), here are the things to concentrate on this week and to finish no later than next week:
1) To the extent possible, finish Christmas/holiday shopping or at least finish your shopping list of exactly what you plan to buy this year.
2) If you are buying anything used (books, etc.), which is a great way to save money, you probably need to place those orders this week to ensure they will ship in time for Christmas. Most used sellers use the slower “Media Mail” shipping option.
3) Take Christmas/holiday photos and order any photo reprints needed. You can save some money on your photos if you give yourself enough time to take advantage of regular shipping and non-expedited printing. Soon, photo printers will be overwhelmed with Christmas orders and you may not get your photos in time for Christmas.
4) If you are framing anything for a Christmas gift or ordering anything custom-made, get that order in now before the maker is overbooked.
No later than next week:
1) Mail any continental U.S. presents. Regular shipping deadlines are closing around next Thursday, December 15, for most retailers. After that point, you will need to pay for expedited shipping which can be expensive and many shippers won’t guarantee that even if you pay for expedited shipping that your order will arrive in time for Christmas.
2) Decide on your Christmas menu. Put in orders for any special ingredients, etc.
This month at Ruly we are going to take it easy as we proceed through to Christmas and New Years. I hope to keep the posts light and fun and point out simple ideas from others to de-stress your holiday celebrations. We will also continue our organizing efforts with a feature on one of the organizational challenges for all parents…toy storage.
- Apartment Therapy: No Room for a Tree? 10 DIY Modern Holiday Alternatives – I love these clever ideas for a unique and space-saving tree, from hanging items on the wall in a tree shape to projecting a tree with light. If we didn’t have a beast of an artificial tree in the basement (that our children are begging to put up) I would love to experiment with these ideas.
- Apartment Therapy: How To Make a Clementine Candle – Those holiday staples, clementines, are making an appearance in stores. It’s a good time to be making recipes like cranberry clementine bread or just eating them fresh. To make the experience even more special, Apartment Therapy gives a really simple trick to convert a clementine peel into a candle. Very cool.
- Lego’s Online Holiday Advent Calendar – While a physical advent calendar, counting the days to Christmas, is fun, this year we are experimenting with a virtual advent calendar. Lego has a great animation that unlocks about every two days showing different Lego characters getting ready for Christmas. I set it as the homepage on my daughters’ computer and they love it. Free!
How are you coming along with your holiday preparations? Please share in the comments.