7 Tips for Stress-Free Christmas Planning in July

‘Tis the season to be jolly… and stress-free! Get a head start on your Christmas planning by making a plan in July!

When I was younger {before kids!} I was the most organized person on the face of the planet! Literally, I planned everything out beforehand, I never had a messy place and I for sure never forgot to buy someone a gift or send a thank you. 

However, as my simplistic life of just taking care of myself has changed, I no longer am organized, keep a clean house and I forget to buy people gifts all of the time! 

Every year around Christmas, I have the best of intentions of being “the best mom ever” and having my family do everything like in the Hallmark movies. But then, we get busy with school activities, my husband will have a work travel trip, and I will be too freezing (now that we live in Wisconsin) to do anything! 

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While it might seem a little early to start planning for the holidays, it’s actually the perfect time to get a head start on your Christmas preparations. The kids are home for summer break, so you can involve the whole family in your planning . There is also still plenty of time before Christmas to make those fun holiday plans that need prior reservations.

7 Tips for Stress-Free Christmas Planning In July | Gathered In The Kitchen

Christmas can be one of the most stressful times of year. The pressure to buy the perfect gifts, have the perfect dinner, and create the perfect holiday memories can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be that way! If you start planning for Christmas in July, you can avoid all the stress and have a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season. In this blog post, I will give you 7 tips for stress-free Christmas planning. Follow these tips and you will be able to enjoy Christmastime without feeling overwhelmed!

So, without further ado, here are my 7 tips for stress-free Christmas planning in July:

Tip #1 Make a Plan

As much as I love to fly by the seat of my pants, I’m always reminded that intentional planning is crucial to be fully engaged in the holiday celebrations.  Without fail, I always have these grandiose holiday ideas that come to me last minute. Unfortunately, it’s usually too late to plan, so we have to forgo them and they go on our to-do list for the following year.

The key to avoiding stress during Christmas is to get organized early. Keyword being “early”. Make a list of everything you need to do and start crossing items off as you complete them. There’s something so satisfying to checking off items on your list! 

Sit down and think about what you want to accomplish during the holiday season. Do you want to spend time with family and friends? Do you want to travel? Do you want to stay home, bake Christmas cookies and relax? Do you want to send out Christmas cards?

If you want to travel, start looking for airline tickets and hotels. If your goal is to spend time with family and friends, start making a list of all the fun activities you’d like to do together. By taking the time to plan ahead, you’ll have ample time to book tickets to your favorite holiday events, like attending your local theaters production of The Nutcracker (my daughter and I love doing this every year!) or special dinner reservations for the whole family.

If you plan to host a party, gift exchange or cookie decorating party (like we do every year) pick a date now and send out a “Save The Date” text. Your guests schedules fill up just as quickly as yours…so make sure you get to dictate the date! Keep track of your events with this activity planner!

Tip #2 Create a Gift List

Have you ever been opening gifts on Christmas morning and realized that you forgot to put something under the tree – usually the gift that you hid so the kids wouldn’t find!

Make your life easier by keeping a gift list for everyone on your shopping list. Not only does this help you remember what you bought, but you can use it as a brainstorming tool to figure out what to get for everyone. 

Don’t forget gifts for the teachers, gifts for postal delivery workers, gifts for neighbors, etc. Always be certain to have a column for generic backup gifts for when you receive an unexpected gift from someone not on your list! 

This way you can take your time finding the perfect presents or ensure that they are delivered on time if you are ordering them online. You will also have enough time to wrap them ahead of time – double bonus!

As an extra stress-reliever, why not participate in a secret Santa exchange! We do this with our kids so they don’t have to worry about finding the perfect gift for everyone in our family, just the person that they drew the name of!

By making a gift list, you can ensure that everyone gets a thoughtful gift that they’ll love!  Keep track of the gifts you’ve bought with this tracker.

Tip #3 Set a Budget

No need to go in debt this holiday season! Christmas can be expensive, so it’s important to set a budget before you start shopping. 

Every year, as our kids get bigger, their gifts shrink in size. Oddly, the size of their presents is typically smaller but the price tag is substantially more.

By putting a budget in place, this will help you avoid spending too much {especially all at once} and allow you to enjoy the festive season without worrying about money. Sit down with your family and decide how much you are willing to spend on gifts, travel, and other holiday expenses. Once you have your budget set, stick to it as much as possible. With careful planning, you can have a wonderful Christmas without breaking the bank. Keep track of your spending with this budget tracker.

Tip #4 Shop Early

As the holidays approach, I’ve often found myself scrambling to finish our Christmas shopping. Although, I do start early and have a secret hiding spot in my attic for gifts bought ahead of time (shhh!!), there are always those last minute gifts that you need!

Don’t wait until the last minute to do your Christmas shopping! Start shopping in July or August so that you can take advantage of summer sales. This will also give you plenty of time to find the perfect gifts for everyone on your list.

One of the most stressful parts of Christmas is dealing with large crowds. If you can, try to do your shopping online or during off-peak hours (like while the kids are at school) so you can avoid the crowds at malls and stores. This will save you a lot of time and frustration.

So, don’t wait until December to start your Christmas shopping. Get a head start and enjoy a stress-free holiday season! Your wallet (and your family) will thank you for it!

Tip #5 Wrap Gifts as You Buy Them

I can’t even begin to tell you how many late night hours my husband and I have spent wrapping Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve. We get them under the tree just in time to catch a few hours of Zzzz’s before the kids come running into our bedroom to wake us up (of course at record times in the morning!)

It’s absolutely the worst combination for a joy-filled Christmas morning. Us parents are beyond exhausted and the kids are wired with excitement, like they’ve had 10 cups of coffee. 

Avoid burning the midnight oil spilling into Christmas morning by wrapping your gifts as soon as you buy them! Discretely write what the gift is on the bottom of the package so you know which gift is which (my mom always used to do this!). If you wrap gifts as you bring them home, you will add hours of beauty sleep to your night before Christmas! This way, all you will have to do is put the gifts under the tree once the kids are asleep!

No last-minute wrapping sessions necessary. If you’re looking for some creative Christmas gift wrapping ideas, check out my 5 creative ways to gift wrap presents for some inspiration. make the perfect bow with this mini bowdabra bow maker.

Tip #6 Plan Your Meals in Advance

My husband and I usually host a couple of holiday meals per year between our two families. While I actually love to cook, preparing meals for a lot of people is definitely not my favorite thing. It’s hard to time each dish correctly and to find recipes that everyone will like. My side of the family likes holiday ham, and my hubby’s side of the family likes turkey…so we always end up making both.

If you’re hosting Christmas dinner, start planning the menu well in advance. While it may not be necessary to start buying ingredients months in advance, it is crucial to buy the speciality Christmas-themed foods as soon as they hit the shelves, because they may sell out! (I know, trust me!) For example, if you see the candied fruit for German fruit cake, buy it and store it in your pantry until you’re ready to use it!

  • First, take a look at your calendar and figure out what days and times you’ll be able to cook. Make sure to factor in any holiday parties or events!
  • Make a list of all the dishes you want to prepare, including side dishes and desserts along with a grocery shopping list of all the ingredients needed. 
  • Choose recipes that can be made ahead of time. This way, you won’t have to spend all day in the kitchen on Christmas Day. It can be helpful to choose dishes that can be made ahead of time, like casseroles or appetizers. For breakfast, make this Christmas Morning Breakfast Casserole.
  • Don’t forget a child menu! There’s always the possibility of kids not liking the main course meals, so plan an easy dish that can be whipped up in minutes for the kiddos…like mac and cheese! Also plan to serve them this Christmas Morning Cocktail that is non-alcoholic!
  • Ask your guests if they have any dietary restrictions. This will help you avoid any potential problems on Christmas Day.
  • Delegate dishes to other family members or friends. Ask someone to bring a salad or appetizer, or assign someone the task of making dessert. This will lighten your load and make the meal more enjoyable for everyone involved.
  • Plan for leftovers! Whether it’s intentional or not, there are bound to be leftovers after Christmas dinner. With a little planning, you can turn those leftovers into stress-free meals for the rest of the week. Simply freeze individual portions or plan to turn the turkey or ham into other dishes!

By following these simple tips, you can make meal planning stress-free and even enjoyable. So go ahead and take the first step towards a stress-free Christmas season!

Planning ahead will also help you avoid last-minute scrambling and anxiety.

Plan your meals with this meal planner and grocery shopping list.

Tip #7 Delegate tasks 

This is super hard for me. I admit. I’m a control freak. I literally am fueled by my own adrenaline. However, in recent years, I’ve started to really fall behind on the things I would normally do because my list is simply too long (thanks house fire!) 

If you try to do everything yourself, you will only end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Instead, delegate tasks to other family members or friends. Lighten your load and make the holiday season more enjoyable for overachieving yourself!

If you’re the type of person who likes to have everything just so for the holidays, it’s important to acknowledge that there’s only so much you can do, after all. Sit down with your family or friends and come up with a list of tasks that need to be completed. Then, assign those tasks to specific people. That way, you won’t have to worry about everything getting done yourself. And who knows? You might even find that assigned delegates are better at completing certain tasks than you are! So go ahead and delegate away. It’s the stress-free way to get things done this holiday season.

Delegating doesn’t have to be a chore – think of it as a way to spread the holiday cheer. 

Bonus Tip:  Don’t Overdo It

Finally, don’t try to do too much during the holidays. If you try to pack too many activities into your schedule, you will only end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Instead, focus on enjoying the time with your family and friends. Make memories that will last a lifetime, and don’t worry about having the “perfect” Christmas.

By following these 7 tips, you can make Christmas planning a breeze. So get started planning today to relieve some of that holiday stress and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year! Merry Christmas!

Do you have any tips for stress-free Christmas planning? Share them in the comments below!

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