This is the beginning of the best time of year. Christmas is six weeks away. Now is the time when we gather for food, games, and joyful conversation. We watch the anticipation in the faces of children. We contemplate. We sing. We give. This is the holiday season we enjoy. This is the beauty we sing about. These are the days of treats from the oven, snowmen, welcome visitors, and time-honored traditions.
I’m one who wants the sun to set slowly on Christmas Eve and rise even more slowly on Christmas morning. Like the last note of a symphony or the last drop of an Oreo milkshake, I want to savor it as long as possible.
But savoring the season is hard to do when you’re stressed. Family gatherings, traditional recipes, and thoughtful gifts don’t just happen—they take time, effort, and planning. Here are some items you can take care of now to help alleviate the stress during the most wonderful time of the year.
Set a budget. It’s very hard to enjoy the holiday season with debt looming over your head. Decide now what you can comfortably manage to spend for the season and commit to stay within that budget. Staying within a budget encourages thoughtful spending. When it comes to gifts, choose quality over quantity. A few nice things can often be more satisfying than several lesser items that will break easily.
Shop now. You probably know people who have already completed their Christmas shopping. Imagine the peace they are enjoying now with that stress behind them. Why not join them? Start your shopping now and set a goal to make Black Friday your last shopping day of the season rather than your first.
Pick up a few just-in-case gifts. It happens every year. A long lost friend or neighbor includes you in their gift giving and you feel a desire to return the gesture. Now what? Pick up a few extra gift items while you’re out and about now, so you won’t have the added stress of last-minute shopping later.
Send holiday greetings early. Prepare your holiday greeting list, buy cards, stamps, and wrapping paper now. It can sometimes take time to write a Christmas letter or even hand-write cards and address envelopes. Get started early. The closer it gets to the holiday, the more hectic things can become.
Get organized. Some traditions include special stories, photos, heirloom recipes, or candlelight. Take time now to gather these items so you won’t find yourself rushing around for them later. All of the items listed above sound a bit hectic, but that’s the point. If we can get the hectic things out of our way early, we can spend more time enjoying the beauty around us.
As hard as we try, despite the magic of the season, it all seems to end too abruptly. Before the sun sets on Christmas Day the magic is already flickering out. So take some time to prepare for the season now so you can relax and soak up as much of it as possible.