Family & Education

Why We Need to Start Planning for Christmas Now

TIMEOctober 25, 2021

Brisk mornings, fall colors, pumpkin pie, and apple cider. Autumn is just the best time of year, right? While we’re thinking toward Halloween and Thanksgiving, consider this a strong nudge to put Christmas high on the list. Start planning now and you’ll benefit in so many ways come December.

Before I find myself dealing with angry responses from readers who find “Christmas creep” to be offensive (a merchandising phenomenon in which merchants and retailers exploit the commercialized status of Christmas by introducing Christmas-themed merchandise or decorations earlier and earlier each year), that’s not what I’m talking about. In fact, I find that quite objectionable myself. I don’t want the Christmas season to start until we’ve cleaned up the last of the Thanksgiving turkey. I don’t want to shortchange fall-themed decor and the joy and beauty of Thanksgiving.

What I’m talking about is planning and getting organized now without the overwhelming pressure and panic that I know will come once I’ve waited too long and believe my only option is to rack up a pile of debt to just get through the season. I despise that feeling of being under the gun, driven by guilt and remorse to mark names off a list; compelled to buy something, anything, to get through the holiday.

So, why get started now? To give yourself the gift of time: Time to make it an all-cash Christmas; time to establish or rekindle family traditions; time to separate the chores from the celebrations. And perhaps best of all, time to embrace the idea of a handmade holiday.

Even if you aren’t crafty or have no desire to be, there are so many ways you can make highly desirable gifts this year.

If getting started means simply making gift lists, studying the calendar, renegotiating the ways you’ve exchanged gifts in the past, or exploring new ideas for workplace celebrations, starting holiday preparations now is going to relieve so much stress and pressure in the days and weeks ahead. And should you want to make this a homemade Christmas, you’ll have plenty of time to start (and finish) those holiday gifts and crafts.

You’ll find endless ideas on sites such as Pinterest and Etsy. Search “homemade gifts,” and prepare for thousands of responses. My book, “The Affordable Christmas: How to Have a Fabulous Holiday Without Breaking the Bank,” is filled with inspiration, specific ideas for family traditions, gifts of experience, and more.

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but not when it hits us with guilt-induced stress, financial pressure, and no time to counter its attack.

A long lead-in to the holiday season is the way to break down the work into small, easy-to-achieve steps. Do a few chores each week and you’ll be ready to celebrate the season more fully, more joyously, and without the stress that comes from too much to do and too little time and money to do it.

Start planning for Christmas now. That’s the way to do less and enjoy more!

Mary Hunt
Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.” Mary invites you to visit her at her website, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, “Ask Mary.” Tips can be submitted at This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Copyright 2021