The most important ingredient to enjoying any party, event or holiday is to prepare as much in advance as possible; preparation and planning is key. This is especially true at Christmastime, with so many expectations, most of which we put on ourselves. Every holiday season generally starts with excitement, which tends to build and peak too soon, often well before the actual morning of Christmas. Alas, in a perfect world, that magical morning would be the crescendo, a perfect finale to weeks of fun celebrations.

By the first week into December, most luxury home owners have had decorations up since Thanksgiving, and many start even earlier. So many “Christmas” decorations are season specific rather than holiday specific, making it more acceptable and even popular to start decorating early. Some benefits of decking the hall early:

  • More time to enjoy the fruits of your labor and admire a collection lovingly amassed over the years.
  • Decorations inspire celebrations and invoke the holiday spirit.
  • Check it off early as one less thing to do as seasonal commitments begin to take over the calendar.

Early decorating is just one of the ways to prevent burnout too early in the season. There are many other ways to simplify and streamline preparations to allow for more time to actually soak in the season. Here are a few simple ideas for how to achieve that:

Pick names! If you have one or more regular yearly gatherings, whether friends, colleagues or family, consider picking names. Even if gift giving in the group has not been a tradition (perhaps because there are so many), it can easily be incorporated by drawing names and putting thought into one perfect gift. And, when it comes to family, especially as it grows into the extended and multiplies, picking names allows for a more meaningful gift exchange for everyone.

Spread it out… shopping can really be fun, particularly when there is no imminent deadline or hordes of crowds involved. By starting the process early and spreading it out over weeks or even months, chances are you’ll discover some treasures along the way, the perfect, unique, gift that says “I know you”.

Just say no! Far too many people, whether out of perceived obligation or “fear of missing out” say yes to every invitation received. While family obligations are generally non-negotiable, it is important to prioritize and leave gaps in your calendar for some quiet evenings with loved ones.

Make a Simple and Special Date. While big holiday parties can be fun, the true spirit of the season has a more intimate quality. Carve out some quality time with family or close friends, involving simple activities, such as making cookies or crafts, sledding or ice-skating.

Get in the Spirit. ‘Tis the season for Christmas carols, movies old and new and making cookies. Keep family traditions alive with It’s a Wonderful Life or Grandma’s famous snowball cookies. Encourage children to learn simple Christmas carols on an instrument to play Christmas eve. Before we know it, a new year is upon us, and so many treasured classics and traditions are then locked away for 11 months.

These simple ideas are really common sense, but they truly bear reminding, just as the true meaning of Christmas. The entire year is spent working, planning, racing from one activity to the next. Now is the time to pause, be grateful and enjoy the beautiful home and family you’ve created.