The countdown begins earlier than you expected.
Why wait until November to prep and plan for the holidays? We know you love the season: you select gifts with care, plan every decorative detail in your home, and wish everyone a merry season with handmade cards. But all of this planning takes work. Allow us to hone your holiday checklist and help you prepare for hosting loved ones during the most wonderful time of the year.
The Village Miniatures
#3. Work Out Your Wrapping Station
When all of your supplies are in order, gift-wrapping is fun! Create a centralized work space for your gift-wrapping materials and tools, as well as a space to package them efficiently. Take advantage of off-season sales on wrapping supplies—stock up on rolls of wrapping paper, tin containers, boxes, and ribbons. And if you're starting from scratch in terms of materials, remember: crepe-paper streamers, colorful fabrics, and even brown paper mesh all work as upcycled wrapping materials. And for on-the-go gift-wrapping? Ribbons, toppers, and special trimmings all can be corralled into this grab-and-go tote.
And while you're at it: practice those bow-tying skills.
#5. Keep Hostess Gifts on Hand
Think beyond the gift list of your inner circle. Come Christmastime, there are endless get-togethers, parties, and home visits in which offering a token of thanks goes a long way. If your cache is dwindling, splurge over the summer—curating a handful of items that will appeal to everyone (including you, should they still be in your care come January) will guarantee that you're never caught in a gift-giving situation empty-handed. Some of our selects? Beautifully wrapped soaps, bottles of wine, and gift baskets touting housewares are always appreciated.
#6. Think: Where You Will Spend the Holidays
Where will you be on Christmas Day, and the days leading up to it? Deciding which parties to attend, who in the family to visit, and where you're traveling (if you're traveling at all) can be the biggest juggle of your holiday planning. Discuss your priorities and must-do traditions (such as scoping out the neighborhood lights, decking the halls with your favorite Scout Elf, or picking out the family tree) with loved ones, then begin to draft a calendar for the month of December. It will fill up as the weeks progress, but this calendar will keep you focused on what is truly important to you. What are the moments you look forward to every year? Here's a precious idea: Write in these events to personalize your advent calendar.
#7. Prepare the Home for Houseguests
If you're the go-to hostess for the family, you have ample time to adapt your home to all the holiday gatherings. Plan any major refurbishes or renovations to your rooms accordingly—especially the kitchen, guest room, and bathroom—so they conclude ahead of season. Consider how your home can best accommodate everyone. For instance, consider sparing space in your entryway for guests to drop their bulky coats and snow boots, ensure you will have extra hangers on hand, and make a place for winter accessories like gloves and hats. What about the guest room? Keep it outfitted it with a fresh set of bed sheets and towels plus an assortment of everyday essentials such as toothbrushes, tissues, lotion, and bar soaps.
#9. Take Your Best Family Portrait
And save it for this year's Christmas card. While the sun is out and the weather is forgiving, why not capture some memorable moments? A perfect portrait starts with smart planning. So ask yourself a few questions: How will you choose a setting where everyone is comfortable—such as your home or the family lake house? What are some of your favorite activities to do together, which, in turn, can inspire the photo? What preparation is needed—coordinated clothing or props? Will you shoot your photographs candid-style or hire a professional? Take advantage of the "golden hour"—that is in the early morning and late in the day when the sun isn't as high, harsh shadows are softened, and your family is cast in a flattering light.
#10. Craft Your Christmas Card
Who will be included on your mailing list? Write down the names of people you've interacted with professionally and personally over the past year. Are there people who have made an impact in your life, who you'd like to thank, or who you'd simply like to stay connected with? Retire old contacts and update new ones in your address book. (If you don't want to transfer the contents all in one go, update a new contact each day—after checking your email, for example.) Next, consider how long it will take to produce your cards. If you're ordering cards through a service, you will want to account enough time for design, revisions (custom stock, foils, and other specialty finishes included), printing, and delivery—this process from start to finish can take several weeks. When they're ready for mailing, print the addresses onto self-adhesive labels, and use decorative scissors to trim the edges before adhering them to envelopes.
#11. Choose Your Charity
This year, consider adding someone new to your holiday list: a stranger in need. And while there are so many organizations that need your help during the holidays, how do you choose which one to devote your efforts to? There are so many ways to share the joy: handwritten cards, care packages, as well as donated gifts. Certain organizations are willing to take both lightly used items and homemade ones. Starting this summer, set aside a basket and encourage your family to fill it with what they no longer need: clothes, electronics, toys, games, equipment, or anything else. At the end of the season, you can donate its contents to your local charity.