A stress-free holiday season is possible! Here’s why summer is the best time to start getting ready for the holiday season.

By Emily VanSchmus
July 25, 2019

We firmly believe it’s never too early to decorate for Christmas—and while there’s something so magical about that day-after-Thanksgiving decorating spree, we think the best time to start planning Christmas is actually in the middle of summer. 

Yes, you read that right! We’re not suggesting you put up your tree and hang the stockings in between barbeques and pool parties, but there are a few simple tasks you can tackle in the summer months that will make the busy holiday season so much less hectic. Here are 11 things you can do right now to make the Christmas season as stress-free as possible. Crank up the A/C, put on your favorite Christmas carols, and get into the pre-holiday spirit. 

1
Make a List and Check It Twice

We often associate the holidays with stress because there are just so many things going on. The weeks before Christmas are filled with people to see, events to attend, and last-minute gifts to buy—in short, there is too much to do and not enough time to do it. During the summer months, write down all the annual events you know you’ll be attending, and make a list of everyone you’ll need to buy gifts for (don’t forget teachers and coworkers!) so there won’t be any surprises once December arrives. 

Getting it all down on paper will help you set clear expectations for the season ahead and avoid the last-minute scramble to find a gift for someone you’ve forgotten. This will also help you identify the things you can take care of right now, like deciding what to buy for the annual white elephant exchange and stocking up on hostess gifts for holiday parties. 

2
Start DIY Projects

While the weather outside may not be frightful yet, you can still get a head start on DIY Christmas gifts and homemade holiday decor. These projects always take longer than you think they will, so don’t leave them until the last minute. Plus, when you’re not scrambling to get things done, you’ll have time to make more homemade gifts—and save some extra cash. 

3
Plan the Christmas Card

We love designing and sending the annual Christmas card, but getting everyone together to take the perfect family photo for the card can be daunting—especially during the busy holiday season. This year, organize family photos in the summer. The kids typically have more free time than during the school year, and you can take advantage of sunny weeknight evenings if your weekend schedule is full. If you have your heart set on taking your photos during sweater weather, reach out to a photographer now to reserve a date before they fill up for the season. 

4
Buy the Basics

Over the summer, take an inventory of what you have and make a list of things you’ll need to purchase this year. Things like extra ornaments or Christmas stockings for a new family member can be purchased online year-round. If you’re thinking of transitioning to an artificial tree this year, don’t wait until the prices are inflated to make a purchase. 

5
Start Saving

While charitable giving is important year-round, most local organizations typically have a greater need during the holidays. Coincidentally, this is also the time of year we usually feel most strapped for cash, after going overboard on gifts or seasonal experiences. This summer, make a savings plan: Putting aside a few dollars a week between now and Christmas will help you ensure you can give as much as you want to during the holidays. You can also use the extra time to look into gifts that give back to causes your family and friends are passionate about. And, if you’re purchasing gifts on Amazon, be sure to take advantage of the Amazon Smile program, which donates a portion of each purchase to the charity of your choice (at no extra cost to you!).

6
Make Travel Plans

The Christmas season can be one of the busiest times for travel, especially if you have family and friends spread out across the country. Start a family group chat and decide who is hosting Christmas this year and check in with far-away friends to see what their travel plans include. Don’t forget to factor in seasonal excursions like Christmas at the Silos or a day trip to a decked-out Christmas town. Once your travel plans are locked in, you can start watching for deals on plane tickets and hotel rooms.

7
Plan New Recipes

If you’re planning to host a lot of people for the holidays, chances are high that you’ll need to cater to at least one dietary restriction. And while Grandma’s classic recipes have always served us well over the years, it can be fun to try out a new holiday recipe. Whether you need to provide a vegan side dish or a paleo dessert option, plan out your new recipes and test each one out at least once before the holiday season. You can even get a head start on meal prep with these insanely delicious make-ahead meals you can freeze.

8
Shop Summer Sales

Since you’ve already made a list of who you’ll need to buy gifts for, shopping summer sales can help you save some serious cash on this year’s gift haul. Christmas in July, Amazon Prime Day, and Labor Day sales are basically the summer equivalent of Black Friday—and you don’t have to skip Thanksgiving dinner to get these deals! Make a list of potential gifts (and set a spending limit) for each person, and watch for those items to go on sale. Now also the best time to book experiential Christmas gifts, especially if you need to buy tickets or make travel plans. 

9
Start the Countdown

Get a headstart on your Christmas countdown! We can tell you from experience that December 1 is not the ideal day to put together your Advent calendar—especially if you want to make a countdown that takes a bit of planning, like this DIY acts of kindness Advent calendar. Carve out a little extra time over the summer to make your own Advent calendar so you’re not scrambling as the holiday approaches. 

10
Plan Your Movie Marathon

As you might have heard, Hallmark is airing a record number of new Christmas movies this year—but you don’t have to wait until winter to start your holiday movie marathons! This year, Hallmark is celebrating Christmas in July by airing two of this year’s new films early! They’re also airing Christmas movies year-round now, so you can get your holly jolly on whenever you decide to do your Christmas planning. 

11
Start a New Tradition

We’ve all got our go-to holiday traditions, but if you’ve ever thought about starting a new one, summer is the best time to plan and purchase as much as you can. If you’re not sure what you’d like to start, research your family history and pull ideas from your ancestors’ home countries—or choose one of our new family tradition ideas. One of our favorite holiday customs is teaching the kids to give rather than receive. If you're able to spend a little extra money, look for an Adopt a Family program and spend a day with your own family shopping for everything on the list. Or, volunteer to help with a holiday meal at a local food bank. 

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