Tips for Making the Holidays More Fun—with a Little Planning

White model house and candles

Every year, I think, “What, the drug store has already put out the Halloween decorations? It’s too early!” But then, in a flash, we’re in the midst of holiday activity.

The holidays are fun, but they can take a lot of time, energy, and money. Planning ahead can make things less stressful.

On social media, I asked for ideas about ways to prepare early for the holidays, to make it easier to relax, enjoy, and celebrate.

People had great ideas, which we shared in episode 399 of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast:

  • over time, add gift ideas to a wish list
  • if you plan to have guests, start clearing clutter now so you don’t have to rush before a party starts or house guests arrive
  • create a system for holding on to holiday memories—use the Storage Box for mementos and souvenirs, use the Memento Keepsake Journal for memorable papers, invitations, menus, tickets, etc.
  • choose a theme gift—for instance, give everyone the same item in a different color
  • make travel plans early, to save money and hassle, and…
  • make arrangements for pets if you’ll be away
  • identify non-gift gifts: a class, movie tickets, a “certificate” to do an irksome chore, the Gift of Podcast
  • make a list of don’t-miss seasonal experiences to enjoy or host
  • to host a holiday party early in the season when things are calmer, invite people to trim the tree
  • for larger purchases of food or drink, buy early or arrange delivery, to avoid shopping in crowds or not being able to find what you want

To be sure, many people said they didn’t want to prepare too early:

  • they wanted to enjoy each season as it happened, and not rush ahead
  • they burn too much energy or too much money if they start too early

When it comes to planning, many people mentioned the importance of thinking ahead with holiday cards.

  • If you’re going to use a photo, choose the photo now
  • order holiday cards early
  • update your address list early—as you receive holiday cards yourself, check the addresses to make sure your list is up-to-date
  • if you like to keep the cards you receive each year, use a Storage Box or the Memento Keepsake Journal to keep them organized

Many people mentioned using a particular date as a starting point, such as October 1, Advent, the day after Thanksgiving, or the twelve days of Christmas.

My own family has a big tradition of gift-giving, but without emphasis on surprise. Each of us is expected to provide a long list of things we want, and the joy for others coming from each of us getting what we ask for—with a few surprises thrown in. These gifts are usually extremely practical, like socks or phone chargers. So in my family, it’s important for me to start early on a list of what I want, as well as what I think others might want.

For more tips and ideas to help you plan ahead, check off your holiday to-do list, and appreciate the season, visit our Holiday Jump-Start.

If you’re a planner, how do you get ready the holiday season? If you’re not a planner, is there anything you wish you could get yourself to do?




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