Get A Jump on the Holiday Season with These Tried-and-True Tips

Most years, people vow that they’re going to really get organized for the holidays. They have great intentions, make lists, but then end up scattered and run off their feet when December rolls around. All the planning in the world can’t save you if you start it on December 15.

The key to a successful holiday season that you actually enjoy is to start planning well in advance — even before Thanksgiving. That way, you’ll know exactly what you need to do, and you’ll never have to step foot in a mall the week before Christmas ever again. And trust us, what is holiday joy if not the knowledge that all your presents are bought and wrapped, and all you have to do is sit by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate?

Here are a few tried-and-true tips to help you get a jump on the holiday season this year.

Sit down and make a holiday to-do list

This is the most important step, and it’s something that you cannot succeed without.

As early as possible — preferably during October, or even September — sit down with a calendar, a computer, or a pen and notepad, and plan out your holiday season. Decide whether you’re going to send out cards, who you want to send them to, and whether you’re going to write them out yourself. Write down deadlines for when you’re going to solicit new addresses for the cards, buy your tree, and finish present shopping. When you write the task down, make sure you include a hard deadline. If there’s no deadline, it may as well be a wish list, rather than a to-do list.

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Make a gift list, and remember to include last-minute gifts too

While you’re making your holiday to-do list, this is a great time to start your gift list. Write down everyone that you think needs a present, and make sure to leave a space so you can go back and add any initial ideas that you may have. Don’t just write down your family members — make sure you include anyone that you’ll need to buy presents for, like your child’s teachers or an in-office Secret Santa gift. It’s also a good idea to purchase several all-purpose gifts like candles, bottles of wine, or boxes of candy that you can use for last-minute hostess gifts.

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Get a list of holiday mail-by dates from your local post office

If you’re planning on mailing anything between November and December, especially if it’s a package, it’s a good idea to get a list of holiday mail-by dates from your local post office or online. This list lays out the various mailing deadlines, depending on where your package is going.

If you have family in places like Asia or Africa and don’t want to pay a fortune in express postage, you’ll need to have your packages in the mail by the end of November. If you want to avoid long lines at the post office, look into buying a postal scale, so you can purchase postage online, and ship from your home.

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