Why You Should Start Preparing for Christmas – In Summer

Planning ahead is always a good rule of thumb for just about any activity. For many of us, the last thing we want to think about in the summertime is the looming winter. Chicagoans will have to start pulling out the mittens from the closet, stick the balaclava in the washing machine, and make sure the car is ready for the drop in temperatures that are coming. But mostly, we feel that we can wait for October or November. Who wants to think about that when it’s roasting outside?

And then there is the Holidays. You can be sure that come September, you’ll notice that Walmart has suddenly added a Christmas section, Netflix will start pushing those gushy Holiday romance movies, and festive-themed games like Secrets of Christmas will become more popular. As many of us remark, “it feels like it gets earlier every year”.

Nonetheless, there is wisdom in embracing Christmas preparation. Indeed, prepping early for winter, in general, is always advisable. Things like home heating oil can often be secured at a lower price in the summer, and if you are able to store it, you can save in the long run over the winter. Time Out recently posted a tongue-in-cheek article on Chicagoans’ winter prepping, and complaining about winter energy prices was among the top.

But prepping for Christmas can save you time, energy, and money. There is no need to go full-on festive – nobody is saying to put the tree up. However, you can do little things bit by bit over the coming weeks, making December much less of a hassle.

Start by making a list

Before doing anything, you should start making a list of what you’ll need to do. Much of the stress around the Holidays comes from stuff we forgot about: Who is coming to stay? Do you need extra bedding? Have you enough plates and glassware? For whom do you need to buy gifts? If you start writing down what you need to do, it will open up new avenues to explore. Then you won’t get caught on the hop.

Get a bargain in advance

Inflation has been one of the biggest stories of the year, and it’s fair to say that the cost of just about everything has risen. That could bite when it comes to the Holidays. Retailers of all shapes and sizes tend to profit from demand and last-minute purchases, but shopping ahead of the pack can lead to some serious discounts. Our tip is to focus on the small things first. Gift-wrapping paper, greeting cards, tree decorations, and so on. Because you are shopping out of season, you are more likely to get the products cheaper, particularly online.

Later, you can start focusing on the more central items, including food and gifts. If you have kids, then list-making (in partnership with them) can be a good way to temper expectations if you are on a budget. As parents, we tend to overcompensate when we panic. Talking through a “Santa” list with a child is a good way to make sure you don’t overspend in December. Again, retailers may offer bargains on toys and other gifts when out of season and demand is low.

Put money away now

Many online sites will provide tips on how to save money. Most come to the same conclusion – you will be surprised as to how quickly small amounts can add up. While tactics vary, with some suggesting that you can stick $25 of your paycheck in a credit union and others suggesting that you put loose change in a box, the point is that it can take some of the sting out of your Holiday spending.

Get into the loft

As mentioned, one of the ways the Holidays can be ‘ruined’ is due to nasty surprises. Having to shell out for unexpected purchases, last-minute dashes to the store, and so on. When you get the time, you should take an inventory of what you have, and what you might need. Your neighbors might raise an eyebrow as you test your Christmas lights in September, but you will be all the more calm about finding a fault than you will closer to the Holidays. Again, planning is key. You might be surprised at what you have in the loft that can be reused, and it will stop you from making unnecessary purchases in December.

Start slow, then build it up

None of this is meant to suggest that you go full on Holiday-mode in the summer, or even in the early fall. The key is to patiently build it up. As mentioned, start with a list of things you need to do. Then, you can perhaps limit yourself to one Christmas chore per week. Pretty soon, you’ll feel organized and well ahead of the game. As the cold nights start drawing in and you start to see the muffler scarves appear on the streets of Chicago, you’ll be calm and collected as much of your Christmas prep is already taken care of.

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