Christmas is a time to spend with family, give gifts to each other and enjoy Christmas dinner. Many people travel at Christmas while others limit their travel to within their town or city. If you are hosting Christmas dinner, you have the added activity of planning and preparing to cook and host dinner.
Planning and organizing all of the activities associated with getting ready for Christmas well in advance makes a huge difference in success, stress levels, and finding the gift items you want to give to family members and friends. Preparing a Christmas checklist well in advance of Christmas can make your preparations much easier during the lead-up to Christmas day.
What Is a Christmas Checklist?
A Christmas checklist contains all of the items and activities you need to complete to prepare for Christmas. Add a timeline to the list, and you have a plan that helps you complete everything on time without the rush and stress of last-minute decisions and searching for items you need. The following Christmas checklist is a combination of steps to follow with suggested time frames to consider.
The Ultimate Christmas Countdown Checklist
The following list details items you may want to include in your personal Christmas countdown checklist. The next section provides more details about each item and when you should consider completing these activities.
- Develop a family plan
- Purchase tickets, complete maintenance on the car
- List all activities on your calendar
- Bake items that can be frozen
- Update your Christmas card list
- Purchase Christmas cards and wrapping paper
- Who will be staying overnight
- Develop your master gift list
- Compare gifts and other costs to your budget
- Christmas shopping
- Online shopping
- Wrap gifts
- Christmas decorations
- Which dishes and glasses
- Send holiday cards
- Decorate your Christmas tree
- Decorate your home
- Create menus
- Buy your turkey or ham
- Mail presents
- Purchase non-perishable items
- Clean your house
- BatteriesSet the table
- Buy perishables
- Begin cooking
- Decorate with flowers
- Complete wrapping
- Set timeline for cooking
- Relax and enjoy your guests
Detailed Christmas Countdown checklist
Two to Six Months
- Develop a family plan – a great deal of the planning depends on where you will celebrate Christmas. Are you hosting? Do you need to travel? By car, train, or by air? Depending on the answers, there are some activities you need to take care of. For starters, who will host, and do you need tickets and accommodation?
- Purchase tickets and complete maintenance on the car – buy your tickets in advance if you need to travel and make sure your car is ready to go if you plan to drive. You might need oil changes, new tires, snow tires, rebalancing, etc. If you are not staying with the host, then make arrangements at a nearby hotel. Look for deals that include breakfast and discounts.
- List all activities on your calendar – start adding items to your calendar, tickets, reservations, Christmas events, parties, pageants, etc. many people use a shared digital calendar within the family to keep up to date with everyone and avoid family conflicts especially around busy times like Christmas.
Two Months Before Christmas
- Bake items that can be frozen – doing this early can save you lots of time and reduce the stress of trying to do everything at the same time. Keep them in the freezer, well wrapped to keep them fresh and avoid freezer burn. They will be available if guests drop in or you want to take a plate of cookies etc., when visiting friends.
- Update your Christmas card list – including addresses and emails. Decide which family and friends you wish to send a Christmas card to, and to those, you will send an electronic Christmas greeting. Sending electronic greetings saves time and money.
- Purchase Christmas cards and wrapping paper – once you have your Christmas card list finalized, purchase cards and wrapping paper. Don’t forget bows, tape and name cards for the presents.
- Who will be staying overnight – if you are hosting, you will want to make sure everything is ready for them, including linens, extra food, and refreshments. If they offer to bring something, take them up on their offer, especially if it will save you time.
Six Weeks Before Christmas
- Develop your master gift list – with names and gift ideas for each person you plan to buy for. Compare to Christmas sales flyers, and perhaps you can save some money at the same time. Don’t forget the family that will be staying with you over the holidays.
- Compare gifts and other costs to your budget – make a budget and track the cost of gifts, travel or hosting costs, and any other expenses you may have around Christmas that you want to keep track of. Without a budget, you may have no idea of the total cost of your holidays.
- Christmas shopping – some people shop all year round for Christmas gifts, snagging deals whenever they are available. However, if you have not completed most of your gift shopping, now is the time to put it in full gear. Many stores run out of goods as Christmas nears. Buy the big-ticket items or items that have special meaning so you and your family will not be disappointed.
A Month Before Christmas
- Online shopping – if some of your gifts can be ordered online, now is the time to place those orders. As it gets closer to Christmas, the risk of not receiving your order in time increases, and supplies may run out.
- Wrap gifts – as you make your purchases, have a dedicated area in your home where you can wrap up gifts. You can leave the wrapping paper etc., out, waiting for the next set of gifts to wrap.
- Christmas decorations – purchase any new decorations you need to replace those that are damaged or showing their age.
- Which dishes and glasses – if you are hosting Christmas dinner or several parties, check your inventory of dishes and cutlery to ensure you have everything you need. Don’t forget napkins and other décor for the table.
- Send holiday cards – begin preparing your holiday cards. Addressing and composing notes can take some time, so start early when you have the time. Start with international cards first since they take longer to be delivered. Electronic Christmas cards can be left closer to Christmas since they arrive instantly and are not dependent on the postal service.
Three Weeks Before Christmas
- Decorate your Christmas tree – purchase a live tree if you prefer and ensure that it is kept watered to avoid it drying out prematurely and losing its needles. Many people use fake trees, which often look as good as the real thing. Either way, it is time to decorate your Christmas tree.
- Decorate your home – after decorating the tree, decorate the remainder of the house with your personal Christmas theme.
- Create menus – plan your menu based on the number of people attending and any specific menu requirements of your guests. You can also create items that your guests can bring if they offer them. Create your grocery list once you have the menu finalized
- Buy your turkey or ham – if you are hosting. You can order in advance or purchase a frozen one that can be thawed later, closer to Christmas.
Two Weeks Before Christmas
- Mail presents – if you have not already sent them off, send them now. The postal service will be providing indications on the last day they can accept items and guarantee delivery.
- Purchase non-perishable items – reference your grocery list and purchase items that do not need to be refrigerated, i.e., canned goods, spices, pantry items, alcohol, and soft drinks.
- Clean your house – especially the bedrooms, bathrooms, and family room. You want the house looking its best before your guests arrive. You may need to complete another quick dusting and vacuuming a day before everyone arrives.
- Batteries – if children’s toys are part of the gifts you are giving, you will want to ensure there are sufficient batteries to run these items. Purchase extras as needed.
Three Days Before Christmas
- Set the table – with the dishes and cutlery for the Christmas eve party or for Christmas dinner, depending on which you are hosting. If there are seating arrangements, place cards on the plates. Place notes on serving dishes, so people helping you know which dish to grab.
- Buy perishables – shop for all of your vegetables and other perishables you need for dinner and appetizers.
- Begin cooking – dishes that can be prepared ahead of time and kept cool until Christmas day can be cooked in advance.
- Decorate with flowers – not everyone is into flowers; however, if you prefer, add them to the decorations. They will stay fresh looking for a few days.
- Complete wrapping – finish any last-minute wrapping of gifts. These are often the gifts the kids look forward to since it is Santa that brings them.
- Set timeline for cooking – decide when you want to have dinner served on Christmas day and calculate the cooking time for the turkey and other items you have on the menu. Set your schedule accordingly for the following day. If you are hosting and people are staying over, plan for breakfast and a light lunch as well.
- Christmas eve is also a favorite time for many families to visit their church and practice their faith. Make sure you allow time for this activity in your busy schedule.
- Relax and enjoy your guests – now that everything is under control, it is time to relax, spend quality time with family and friends, and enjoy the family memories being created.
Christmas is a great family celebration, and many people look forward to getting together with each other, celebrating the season, and enjoying good food and gifts for everyone. For those who are organized and have everything under control, it is a fun time; however, it can also be stressful for many if everything is left to the last minute. Plan and focus on some of the big decisions to ensure that you and your guests enjoy themselves.
One of the significant decisions is whether you are hosting or not. How many people will attend? Do you need to travel and can you arrange for tickets by train or by air? These decisions affect many of the smaller details that must be worked out.
If you are hosting, how many people will attend? Do they have special food requirements, and will they be staying over at your home?
Many common items also must be looked after regardless of whether you host or not. Buying gifts, wrapping them, sending gifts, so they arrive on time, and Christmas cards as well. Leave these things to the last minute, and you are in trouble.
Follow the timeline mentioned in this post, adjust it for your situation since we all have different factors that affect our lives, and prepare a schedule that will help you stay organized and avoid last-minute emergencies.
Christmas should be fun and enjoyable for everyone.