Autumn is here. The air is getting cooler, Halloween is just around the corner, and the winter holidays will be here before we know it. Even though you probably haven’t even finished off your first pre-Halloween bag of candy corn, now is the perfect time to get a head start on preparing for the holidays!

It doesn’t matter what you celebrate; Christmas or Hanukkah, Solstice or Yule, the preparations are pretty similar. There are gifts to buy, decorations to bring out of the closet or attic, menus to plan, mailing lists for holiday cards, and so much more. And what better time to start getting ready than right now? If you wait until after Halloween—or worse, after Thanksgiving—you’ll find yourself rushing around at the last minute, trying to get it all done.

Everything you need to prepare for the coming holiday season is already on display at Target, Costco, Walmart, and just about every other store you can think of. Here are a few ideas from your neighbors at the Lazy Acres senior living community in Belton that will help make your holiday season a lot more stress-free:

1. Establish a holiday budget.

Money is a big source of stress during the holidays, but it doesn’t have to be. Figure out how much you want—and can afford—to spend, and plan out a budget that will allow you to buy everything from cards to paper plates to presents without putting yourself in the hole. Put it all down on paper before you begin your holiday shopping, and you won’t be in for an unpleasant surprise when the bills come due at the end of December.

2. Organize your mailing list.

Whether you’re mailing holiday cards or gifts to friends and family members throughout the season, make sure you have everyone’s addresses, and make sure they’re all current. If you want to take it one step further, you can go ahead and address all your envelopes and affix the stamps and return labels. When it’s time to start mailing cards, you’ll find that the process goes a lot faster!

3. Get your calendar in order.

You can use a wall calendar or print one out for the months of November and December. Put your holiday schedule on the calendar and stick it to the refrigerator or someplace else where it’s easy to reference when you need it. If you’re taking a trip, attending a holiday party, or just taking a few days for yourself, put it on the calendar. You can also add in any unrelated appointments or other events to the calendar so that you don’t end up overbooking yourself.

4. Perform your pre-holiday supplies audit.

Make sure you’ve got what you need before the last minute. Tally up your holiday decorations, cards, wrapping paper, gift bags, and so on. If you’re low on a staple, go pick it up from the store. This will also help prevent you from accidentally buying more wrapping paper when you already have an entire roll that you forgot about from last year!

5. Bake and freeze in advance.

Many of us bake things for the holidays. From cookies to breads to fudge, if you’re planning on sending sweet treats out to friends and family, taking them to holiday get-togethers, or just enjoying them yourself, you can take some stress out of the holiday season by baking them in advance and then storing them in the freezer until you need them.

Do you have some handy pre-holiday prep tips that have made your holiday season easier in the past? Share them with the whole neighborhood on the Lazy Acres Facebook page! And if you’re looking for the perfect place to enjoy the holiday season, there’s no place better than the Lazy Acres senior living community in Belton. Give us a call at (816) 331-4886 to learn more, or fill out our online contact form anytime!