Planning & Budget

Holiday to-do list and countdown

Illustration of a pink snowglobe with "Countdown to the holidays" on it.

It's the most wonderful (and stressful!) time of the year. While we've had holiday jingles playing since September, we're also guilty of running out of tape in the middle of gift-wrapping. That's why we recommend planning ahead in the weeks leading up to December so that everything is merry and bright, not rushed and frantic! Read on for our detailed to-do list leading up to the holidays.

Six weeks to December 1st

Decide on your holiday plans. That way, you, your family and friends will all have time to make the necessary arrangements.

Make a (gifting) list and check it twice. Write down the names of the people you’d like to give gifts to, add some gifting ideas next to their names and note which gifts need to be shipped and which will be given in person.

Update your holiday card list. Look through your current list to see who you’d like to add for this year. If you’re going the eco-friendly eCard route, import your email addresses now to have them ready to go.

Prep for your holiday photo. Book your holiday photographer now! The closer it gets to the holidays, the more likely they’ll be booked up for the season. Or if you have some photos from a family vacation you want to use, start sorting through your photos and selecting them.

Four weeks to December 1st

Shop for holiday decorations. If you need some new Christmas tree decorations or a few more stuffed snowmen, get your decorations now so you’ll have them ready to go once it’s time to decorate!

Shop for gifts. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great days for amazing deals, but always keep your eye out for sales before then. Don’t forget to check the return policies and shipping estimates before you purchase.

Create (and share) gift wish lists. If your loved ones like gifting hints, wish lists are an easy way to ensure everyone wins.

Send out your holiday party invitations. You’ll want to give people plenty of time to make childcare arrangements, shop for gifts if there’s a gift exchange involved, find a festive outfit and figure out travel logistics. December 15th is the most popular day for holiday parties, so if you’re thinking of hosting a party that week, get those invitations out ahead of time to avoid conflicts with other parties. We recommend sending your invitations:

  • 4–6 weeks before the party if you have guests visiting from out of town or if the party involves a lot of prep like catering.
  • 2–4 weeks before the party if it’s a more casual get-together, a gift exchange or an after-hours work party.
  • 1–2 weeks before the party if it’s an office lunch party or a virtual event.

If you're planning a Hanukkah party, make sure you check the date. If it's year where it falls earlier in December, make those party plans now and send out those invitations!

Think about what to wear. Sequins! Velvet! Ugly sweaters! This is the time to go all out and be a bit extra. Or a lot extra. Your call. If you're on the hunt for new holiday outfits, now is the time, especially if you're ordering online and want to make sure

Plan out your Christmas menu. Turkey? Ham? Goose? Figure out what your main dish will be, then plan around that. While Thanksgiving has a fairly set menu, Christmas dinner is a little more open to interpretation. You can opt to serve dishes you traditionally enjoy or incorporate something new into the feast.

Two weeks to December 1st

Send out cards. People love receiving and displaying holiday cards. Send your cards now so they can be enjoyed all season long.

Assess your old holiday decor. Before you decorate, take a moment to confirm that you have all of the cords and hooks you need. Also, plug in your lights to make sure that they’re still actually lighting up.

Make your holiday party shopping list. Food? Drinks? Decor? Dinnerware, flatware and drinkware? Write down everything you think you’ll need for your party to determine what you need to get (and note what you already have).

One week to December 1st

Get your Christmas tree. If you have an artificial one, skip this, but if you love the real deal, the week of Thanksgiving or right after is the perfect time to get yours. If you get it too early, you risk it drying out. Too late, and you may end up with a tree that’s seen better days.

Deck those halls. It’s time to decorate. Go, go, GO!

Make those hauls. It’s Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday/Cyber Week and if you haven't started your holiday shopping, now is the time to make most of those deals!

Make last-minute Hanukkah plans. You have eight days and nights to celebrate! Create an invitation for an evening get-together, or send a Hanukkah card to someone you won’t see in person this year.

Get your wrapping paper (and tape!). Now that you know what you need to wrap, it’s time to get the supplies: wrapping paper, tape, scissors, gift tags, gift bags, ribbon, bows and cellophane for those hard-to-wrap items.

Buy your party supplies and food. You should be able to get the majority of your party essentials now to have them ready for your holiday gathering. We even have a curated list of great options right here.

Week of December 1st

Panic. We’re kidding—it’s going to be fine. You have 24ish days left to get everything done, so have some eggnog and relax.

Buy thank you cards. Get your thank you cards now to have them ready post-holidays, or if you’re worried you won’t have time to send out paper cards, send them digitally with one of our designs.

Start wrapping gifts. Set aside some time to wrap everything. Doing everything all at once is lovely since you can pack away the wrapping materials afterward, but make sure to keep them within reach for last-minute gifting.

2 weeks to Christmas

Send out holiday eCards. Whether you think they’re more environmentally friendly, economical or you just don’t have time for the paper ones, holiday eCards and Christmas eCards are a great way to send along some holiday cheer.

1 week to Christmas

Send out eGift cards. If you’ve run out of time to shop for a physical gift, don’t know what they like or can’t ship something, opt for an eGift card!

Pick up any last-minute sips and bites. With everything else going on, who could blame you for forgetting the Baileys or Santa’s cookies? Try going to your local store during an off-time (in other words, not on the weekend or right after work) to grab any overlooked items.

Whew! We know that's a detailed list, but most important of all? Don't forget to pause and enjoy the time with family and friends. Happy holidays!

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