October 31st @ 11 AM EST
– a small town, midwestern girl living in sunny South Florida with my husband and our two golden doodles.
Welcome to my lifestyle blog dedicated to good food, better drinks, easy entertaining ideas and laid-back living.
Sharing a cocktail, hosting a party with good friends, trying new recipes, making memories over a thoughtfully laid out grazing board; these are the moments I love to live and share with others.
Thanks for being here!
I know it seems crazy to already have Christmas on the mind, but I’m always open to a little holiday cheer. It is, as they say, the most wonderful time of year. Christmas brings joy, warmth, and the spirit of giving, but it can also bring a lot of stress! It seems like once schools back in session, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all come so fast. So, in the heart of summer, I’m fully embracing “Christmas in July.” Here are five things I’m doing now to prepare for Christmas.
Last year, I ventured into making my vanilla extract at home. I used this post by Preppy Kitchen to make my homemade vanilla extract, and it turned out so good! I made 6 large bottles and gifted one to my mom, one to my mother in law and one to my grandma, and kept the rest. They all loved it!
When Christmas rolled around, I purchased mini swing top bottles because I thought that would be the perfect holiday gift. Instead of giving cookies to neighbors, friends, teachers, etc., I wanted to give homemade bottles of vanilla extract. While the thought was there, I forgot the fact that the vanilla beans need to steep for 6ish+ months! Shoot, there’s always next year…
Well now it’s next year, and I don’t want to let my good idea go to waste this holiday season. That’s why I’m making my homemade vanilla extract gifts right now, so they’ll be ready come Christmas time!
I bought a few cute holiday spatulas on clearance the day after Christmas last year, and my plan is to give those out with some of the bottles. I also want to tie a sugar cookie recipe or something like that to the bottles. I’ll post what I decided to do closer to Christmas, but for now, I just needed to get my vanilla beans steeping in the vodka. I made 12 4 oz bottles, and I can’t wait to hand them out this year!
Christmas is a very special time in our home these days. We bought a new home a little over 2 years ago, and the last two years, we’ve been lucky enough to host Christmas at our house with our families. We are doing it again this year, and it’s always my goal to make everyone truly feel the magic of Christmas.
Between the food we eat together, the games we play, the activities planned and the gifts we give, I want to make everyone visiting us during Christmas time feel seen, loved and appreciated. So as I prepare for Christmas, I like to keep all of that in mind.
For me, that starts with the decor: creating welcoming, warm and cozy spaces full of holiday cheer! I like to browse Pinterest early, so when decor starts hitting the stores (which will be soon!), I can be intentional about my holiday decor shopping.
I love traditions when it comes to Christmas time, both old and new. We’ve started a few traditions since hosting Christmas, and I definitely want to incorporate those into our activities again this year. One of those traditions is our Christmas seafood boil we host with our family that’s in town, and we also invite our local friends who don’t make it back home for the holidays.
After searching Facebook marketplace for 2 years, we finally have a gorgeous dining table. It was actually this Crate and Barrel dining table for 1/3 of the price… score!! We just got it about a week ago. In the previous years, we’ve used fold up card tables, so I’m excited to decorate a real table for our Christmas dinner this year. I want to make it extra special, so I’ve been brainstorming my table scape on Pinterest, and I’ll be on the hunt for deals.
We like to play the saran wrap ball game, so I’m going to start my hunt for little items to include in the ball. I also like to “surprise” everyone with a filled stocking on Christmas morning. My parents always did that for us growing up, and it’s cool to now get to do it for them. Which brings me to…
I honestly keep a brief list on my phone throughout the year to jot down any ideas that pop up while I’m with loved ones. Whether they mention a new hobby, something they’ve been meaning to buy or something they’ve always wanted but wouldn’t splurge on for themselves, I like to keep a running list. It’s easy to completely forget these things once it’s time to actually buy gifts, so keeping a list throughout the year allows me to easily remember ideas (even if they said them months ago!).
I looked at the list I had going so far, and there wasn’t much on it! Now I know I need to really pay attention in the next few months; that way I have some good ideas come Christmas time!
Here’s what to look for / listen for:
When these things come up, write them down. I don’t like to purchase things too far in advance because I’ll forget I bought something (and then I’ll find it in a closet somewhere, and it’s always after Christmas- ha!) However, I do like to spread out our holiday gift purchasing.
It may seem crazy, but start shopping now. This is honestly my best budgeting tip. Spending $100-$200 a month leading up to Christmas is going to feel a lot better than dropping $1000 in December. Think about a realistic budget, and spread it out over the next 5 month.
Say you have 10 people on your Christmas list. Shop for 2 people on the list each month over the next 5 months. By December, you’ll have your Christmas shopping done, and it won’t feel as much of a burden on your wallet!
To me, getting in the Christmas spirit is just as important as organizing and planning. Nothing beats a little Christmas in July. Whether that’s cozying up on the coach for a Hallmark Christmas movie or baking the cookies you just can’t wait until December for, getting in the Christmas spirit will help you plan ahead and get excited for what’s to come.
And that’s it! That’s everything I’m doing and thinking about to prepare for Christmas. I hope this helps you get a bit of a head start on the holiday season. What are you doing to prepare for Christmas? Do you have any special tips or tricks? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!
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Seasonal eating tastes better, costs less and supports local farmers. What's not to love?