Along with teaching Christmas crafts by late September, Sarah Gondo of Post Falls knows plenty of holiday early birds. You know the ones. They already have most or all their Christmas gifts stashed. Lights are prepped.
But with less than 100 days until Dec. 25, it might be a wise strategy to do some things now – especially if you want to craft handmade gifts or update decorations. Gondo admits often being ahead of the curve to feel more prepared, but also just because she loves Christmas.
“I have people already asking when my Christmas classes are starting, the ones I have going on by the end of September,” said Gondo on Sept. 16. “We definitely have the early birds. “I had a workshop last night, and people were already buying Christmas gifts and making them.”
She owns Barn 31, which just opened a new space at 1908 E. Seltice Way. It began as a Christmas tree farm near her home. Today, the studio sells home decor and gifts, and also guides do-it-yourself craft workshops, including how to make porch signs with “Merry Christmas” or other holiday images.
Now through mid-December, at least two classes a week have Christmas craft options that people either give as gifts or use for their homes. But even in her social circles, Gondo knows people who do early holiday prep so they can enjoy more of the season before crunch time hits. It isn’t too soon to enjoy the season’s joy, she added.
“I know people who have everything done; their gifts are already purchased and hidden in boxes. They kind of skip right over Halloween and go straight to Christmas. It brings you so much joy. I start listening to Christmas music in July.
“I watch ‘Elf” about once a week. I think most people do it because the lights are pretty, and for those who have positive feelings regarding Christmas, it just makes them happier – even sooner than December.”
In Spokane, young families already have approached Katie Regelin in recent weeks for ideas on how to get more organized for the holidays. Regelin, a professional organizer, owns Order Restored. One tip she thinks is important now: to declutter.
“I’d collect all the holiday decor in your house – and think about what you have and what you really need – paring that down and then storing them all in one space,” Regelin said. “Designate one shelf in the garage or have bins clearly labeled.”
If you realize certain decorations never came out of the box, this is a good time to donate them or give them away, she said. Overall, one strategy is to keep what you really love. Purge duplications and think about how to simplify, Regelin added. “For what’s needed as far as Christmas decor, people usually have an excess,” she said. “Get on top of it even before Thanksgiving hits.”
Because people differ on how much they do or don’t enjoy holiday hosting, she doesn’t have a hard rule on how much to store for guest dinners or other visits. If you don’t enjoy hosting, perhaps cast off the extra holiday dishes. Here are other tips:
Craft or buy early
“Start making as many gifts now if you’re going to do that because as soon as November hits, it’s like all these Thanksgiving and Christmas activities hit, and you’ve run out of time,” Gondo said. “So you can think about making your DIY gifts (now) and in October.”
Another idea is to set goals on your calendar, such as a priority that you’ll craft four gifts by Oct. 15. Gondo likes to keep a spreadsheet as she stashes away completed gifts or items bought early so she doesn’t forget or duplicate. That also helps her keep things even among her six children.
Stash and purge
Liberty Lake resident Shanna Miller likes to pick up gifts most people would want in their homes, from kids coloring books to well-designed flameless candles.
She begins early assembling gift baskets after buying items here and there over several months. Some are from after-Christmas sales. All gifts go into one large plastic bin in a closet of her sewing room.
“I considered myself as someone who is somewhat an early bird,” said Miller, now a grandmother. “What I try to do ahead now for some people is to buy consumables.”
Earlier this year, she found a package of decorated boxes on sale at Pier 1 that are stashed now to add gift cards or other surprises to later. “Generally, the gifts I try to find are something that I think will still be current,” she said. “I think about whether it’s a gift I’d like to get.”
On the flip side, people who hang onto gifts or decor they don’t enjoy anymore should consider donating them or offering sentimental items to adult children, said Regelin. Parents can help kids consider which toys they don’t play with anymore to donate to a charity.
She also suggests breaking organization into categories. “Focus on one category, like today I’m only going to tackle fall decor,” she said. “Next week, maybe you go through your Christmas ornaments. That’s less overwhelming than tackling a whole room.”
Spread tasks out
Gondo knows of people who by early November prep large batches of cookie dough to store in the freezer and take out portions for baking at different times during the holidays. She also will buy or update holiday decorations early to update her inventory as she sees them in stores before stocks run low.
For Miller, when she completed all her holiday preparations early, she’d still go to a mall late in the season – on purpose.
“When I got ahead, sometimes I felt I’d almost missed out,” she said. “So before, when the kids were little, I’d go out on Dec. 23 and people watch at the mall. People were still nice and kind. It felt good.”
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