Christmas Preparation Ideas: 17 Tips to Save Money and Your Sanity

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Are you looking for some Christmas preparation ideas so you can be ready for Christmas early this year?

There is so much to do when preparing for Christmas and the holiday season that it can be incredibly overwhelming and stressful, especially if you wait until the last minute.

I hate being stressed around the holidays!  It makes it so hard to enjoy the spirit of the season, the festivities, and of course spending time with family.

I found this out first hand the year I had my second son. Christmas snuck up on me so fast that year!  He was born at the end of August.  The next thing I knew, it was December and I had not prepared for Christmas at all!

Boy was I stressed that year.  And guess who does all the Christmas preparation in our house?  Yup, you guessed it, yours truly!

I vowed to never wait until the last minute to prepare for Christmas again!  

Ever since then, I start my Christmas preparation in September.  And as it turn out, September is when many people start preparing for Christmas.

In September I like to start making lots of lists.

I make lists of the people I need to shop for, possible gift ideas, and Christmas supplies I need for wrapping gifts, making gifts, baking, holiday meals, and decorating our home.  

Then in November, I start shopping.  I like to start shopping in November for the things I want to buy online.  By doing this, I have plenty of time to shop around for the best deals and of course, have my items delivered early so I have plenty of time to wrap them.  

But the bulk of my Christmas preparation is done the week after Thanksgiving when I take a few days off from work to get ready for the holidays while the kids are in school.  

It’s during these couple of days that I do our Christmas decorating.  I also wrap and tag all the gifts I already bought and send out my Christmas cards.

It has been working out really well for the past few years.  So today I wanted to share my Christmas preparation ideas with you so you can get ahead too!

If you are trying to plan ahead and get a jump start on your holiday prep, keep reading for my best tips to help you save money and your sanity this holiday season.

17 Ultimate Tips for Preparing for Christmas Early

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Christmas Preparation Ideas: 17 Ways to Save Money and Your Sanity

#1 Make a game plan

The key to being prepared for Christmas is to get organized.  Making lists is a great way to put your ideas and thoughts on paper so you don’t forget them.

As I said earlier, I usually do that in September.  But if you think you need more time to plan and organize, starting much earlier in the year will help.

As you start making lists for all of your Christmas festivities, you are beginning to create your plan.  Here are ideas for lists to create:

  • Holiday meal planning and ingredients needed
  • People to shop for and possible gift ideas
  • Christmas supplies you need
  • List of people you send Christmas cards to and their current addresses

#2 Create a budget

Creating a Christmas budget is a must!  The last thing you want to do is to go into debt from spending too much money during the holidays.  

After you make your lists, think about the amount of money you will need for each list.  Come up with a budget based on what you feel is appropriate to spend.  

Assess your savings and decide if you will need to make extra money for Christmas.  Earmark your Christmas money in a sinking fund to keep it safe and untouched so you have it when you need it.

There are many ways to make extra money for Christmas.  Here are some examples of ways to make extra money:  

Related posts:

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#3 Create a holiday bucket list

A bucket list is a list of experiences you one day hope to have.  Why not write a bucket list for the holidays?  You could start some new Christmas traditions with some ideas from your bucket list.

Some frugal ideas for your holiday bucket list are:

  • Drive around your neighborhood to see the lights
  • Have a Christmas movie marathon
  • Have a game night with friends and serve holiday drinks (egg nog, mulled wine, hot cocoa, Christmas punch, holiday sangria) and snacks
  • Have a chocolate fondue dessert night
  • Read Christmas stories
  • Get family or friends together to bake cookies
  • Make a gingerbread house

Related Posts: 

Budget-Friendly Winter Activities

Christmas preparation ideas: red and white wrapped presents with bows

#4 Check for Christmas supplies you need

Taking advantage of holiday sales and clearance after Christmas is a great way to save money while stocking up on the things you will need for next year.  

Make a list of items you are getting low on while wrapping gifts this year so you can be on the lookout for those clearance items after the holidays.

Then you will be all set for the following year!

However, if you didn’t do that last year, take inventory of what you currently have and what you need for this year so you can look for sales on those items.  

Some supplies to check your inventory for are:

  • Gift wrap
  • Bows
  • Gift tags
  • Tape
  • Clothing boxes
  • Tissue paper
  • Gift Bags
  • Christmas cards (if not ordering custom)
  • Christmas decor

#5 Shop for gifts throughout the year

Picking up gifts for people throughout the year can be super helpful to spread the cost of gifts out over the course of several months instead of buying everything a month or two before Christmas.

Check out seasonal clearance and shop sales for items to have on hand for last-minute gifts (for example if you forgot to add someone to your gift list).   

Don’t forget to check out TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Ross is if you have any of those stores nearby.  They often have seasonal clearance throughout the year on top of their already low prices.  

Some inexpensive gift ideas to pick up during sales for work gift exchanges, hostess gifts, and neighbor gifts are:

  • Candles
  • Cute dishcloth/towel sets/oven mitts
  • Journals
  • Notepad/pen
  • Picture Frames
  • Bag of gourmet coffee
  • Hot chocolate assortments
  • Tea assortments
  • Chocolates/seasonal candy
  • Cozy socks
  • Shower gel/bath salts
  • Hand lotion
  • Manicure set
  • Nail polish
  • Small baskets or trays
  • Change purse or clutch
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Bottle of wine

Some of these things would also make great stocking stuffers or you could combine a couple of them in a small basket to make a nice gift basket for someone.

#6 Make homemade gifts ahead of time

Another Christmas preparation idea is to make your homemade gifts ahead of time.  This will definitely help you keep your sanity!  

The last thing you need to be doing during the busiest part of the season is making soap, knitting a blanket, or pouring candle wax!

If you will be putting together gift baskets, you could prepare those early too.  Then you can make a list of exactly what you need to complete them.  

Christmas Preparation Ideas: Meal plan for the month of December

#7 Meal plan for December

If you don’t meal plan for any other month of the year, at least try to meal plan in December!  

December is such a busy month and to add on the stress of deciding what to have for dinner every night, you could seriously drive yourself nuts.

As you may know, I am a huge advocate of meal planning.  I actually love monthly meal planning for my family.  I love only having to do it once every 4 weeks. 

Now if you really hate meal planning, you could try $5 Meal Plans.

$5 Meal Plan is a meal plan service that sends you weekly meal plans right to your inbox and the grocery list for the meal plan already done for you!  

All you have to do is check off the things you already have and head to the grocery store to get the rest.

Most of the meals work out to be around $2 per person.  And it’s only $5 a month for the service!  

So if you would like to check it out, they have a free 14-day trial you can sign up for here.  

Then you can see how much time, money, and stress meal planning can save you!

#8 Pick up ingredients when on sale

Once you have your holiday menu figured out, you can save money on your Christmas meals by buying your ingredients when they are on sale.

Don’t forget to use Ibotta for your groceries!  

Ibotta is a cash-back app that is free to download and use.  It can be used at so many different stores like Walmart, Target, Costco, Whole Foods, Kroger, and lots more!

You just add the money-back offer to your account in the Ibotta app, take a picture of your receipt, and they deposit the money into your Ibotta account.  

Ibotta can also be used with Walmart Grocery Pickup, even though you don’t get a receipt with Grocery Pickup.  That’s how we use it the most.  

Before you start your grocery order on Walmart, you click on Walmart through the Ibotta app.  It redirects you and you start your shopping.  

Once you pick up your groceries the money gets deposited into your Ibotta account.  

If you don’t have Ibotta yet, you can sign up here.

By signing up through my link, you can receive up to $20 in welcome bonuses!  

Also if you use your laptop or desktop computer, Ibotta has a browser extension you can use instead of an app on your phone. 

You can download the browser extension here.  

Christmas preparation ideas: assorted box of Christmas cookies

#9 Bake ahead of time

Another Christmas preparation idea is to bake your cookies ahead of time and freeze them (if they freeze well).

If your family loves Christmas cookies and you usually bake tons of different kinds of cookies, making some of them ahead of time will definitely help with your holiday work load.

If you prefer them fresh (and not previously frozen), why not freeze the dough so all you would have to do is thaw the dough and bake the cookies?  

#10 Use money-saving apps

In order to save money around the holidays, it is important to plan ahead. Plan everything so you can use money-saving apps!

If you wait until the last minute to buy the things you need, there is less of a chance of finding a deal on them.

When planning your Christmas meals (or any meals for that matter) don’t forget to check Ibotta for money-back offers.

If you don’t have Ibotta yet, you can sign up here.

As I said earlier, it’s totally free to download and use! Why not get cash back on the things you were going to buy anyway?

Rakuten (used to be Ebates) is another cash-back app that is free to use. If shopping on a laptop or desktop computer, use their free browser extension.

Just click on the store you want through the Rakuten app or website and you will earn cash back in the form of a check or Paypal after qualified purchases.

Fetch Rewards is another app you can use to save on groceries. You just take a picture of your receipt after you shop and you can earn rewards points towards gift cards.

#11 Plan your Christmas card

Get a jump start on your Christmas cards.  Decide on your picture and order your cards early if you are getting custom cards made.

Make sure you have all of the correct addresses handy so you can start writing them out as soon as they arrive.  

#12 Make travel plans early

Another way to prepare for Christmas is to make your travel plans early.  If you need to book a flight or hotel room, booking them early rather than waiting until the last minute will help you ensure you get the flight and room of your choice.

#13 Prepare for overnight guests

If you will be hosting overnight guests, being prepared with the proper linens, blankets, pillows, and extra toiletries will help your guests feel at home.

If the room doesn’t get used except for once a year at Christmas, a deep cleaning may be needed to ensure your guests are comfortable.  

By getting ready for your guests ahead of time, you will have one less thing you need to do while you are busy preparing other things for the holiday.  

#14 Make sure your cleaning supplies are well stocked

Don’t forget to stock up on cleaning supplies.  If you have more visitors than normal at your home over the holidays, you may need to do some extra or last-minute cleaning.

You could be in the middle of doing a last-minute cleaning for your bathroom before guests arrive only to realize you are totally out of toilet scrubbers (trust me, it does happen!).  

Christmas preparation ideas: wrapped gifts with Christmas lights in the background

#15 Plan your holiday party

This may seem like a no-brainer, but preparing for Christmas by planning your holiday party ahead of time is definitely a sanity saver and a money saver.  

Make a list of everything you need for your party. Include every last detail.  Food, drinks, decorations, games, people to invite, party favors, date, location, time,…everything.  

So you don’t forget anything.

#16 Keep your lists for next year

You know all the lists you made this year?  Your gift list, your party list, your holiday meal list, and your grocery lists for your holiday meals?  Keep all of them in a safe place for when you start your Christmas preparation next year.

Keep them in a binder or folder labeled Christmas and place them where you will remember where they are.  

Then all you have to do next year is tweak the lists a bit.  By keeping your gift lists, you will know exactly what you gave everyone and you won’t accidentally give people the same type of gifts again next year.  

#17 Get your rest

It is so important for your sanity and your health to get your rest when preparing for Christmas.  You don’t want to run yourself down to the point where you get sick.  

Christmas is supposed to be a joyous time of year to spend with family and friends. Getting your much-needed R & R will help you feel your best during the busiest time of year. 

Final Thoughts on Christmas preparation ideas

Preparing for the holiday season is no simple task.  But planning ahead and getting a jump start on preparing for the holidays will help you save money and feel less stressed.

And preparing for Christmas can get so expensive.  Many people go into debt around the holidays.  

But you don’t have to.

Making a game plan and creating a holiday budget will help you spend your money intentionally for the holidays.  

And finding ways to make a little extra money, shopping sales, and using money-saving apps will also go far in helping you avoid the dreaded Christmas debt.  

As you prepare for the holidays, don’t forget to get enough rest so you can enjoy the holiday cheer and magic of the season with your family and friends.  

Do you have any other Christmas preparation ideas?  I would love to hear them! Please let me know in the comments.  

17 Awesome Tips to Prepare for Christmas Early
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