Christmas in July

• 01 August 2011

(...make that August. Where did July go?)

My sister and I have made a pact to complete our Christmas preparations before Halloween this year. We both want to make the most of the months of November and December and see preemptive action as the only way to accomplish this! Last year our holiday season was a bit of a disappointment (long story) and it's important to me to make sure that doesn't happen again this year. I truly want to enjoy every minute.

Each year I have good intentions to be done with the bulk of my holiday planning early, but rarely am I successful. However, because my sister and I are doing this together, I feel like 2011 is the year I'm going to make this happen (the buddy works I tell ya!). I'm already daydreaming of having extra time on hand to make gingerbread cookies, ride a sleigh with the kids, bake treats for friends and neighbors, and all sorts of other fun stuff.

Here is the start-planning-Christmas-in-July (errr August) to-do list I'm currently tackling:

1. procure skinny-wrap return address labels from Minted or a classic label from Tiny Prints

2. plan out gift giving and begin buying and/or making gifts

3. snag extra letterpress Christmas cards for a song over at Crane or Vandalia St. Press

4. address envelopes with one of my favorite pens and adhere holiday stamps

5. make Christmas music mixes; wrap using kraft brown packaging from Muji.

6. buy holiday dresses and ties for my children

7. scope out classic pajamas for the kids--I love gifting these on Christmas Eve.

What do you do to prepare for Christmas in advance? I've got to be missing a few things...

image by the lovely "dottie angel"


kg said...

Where do you look/buy holiday dresses now? I do a thanksgiving holiday card and am scouring trying to find fall clothes for our picture...hoping fall lines come out soon, any ideas? Love this idea of getting ready before the rush of everything, thanks!

Girlfrog said...

This is such a smart thing to do! Whenever I'm ready for Christmas before the season begins (it's only happened once or twice) the whole season is more enjoyable!

I have a thing for classic Christmas pajamas but have found that they can be tough to find. Do you have a brand you usually get? I've been getting Vive La Fete for years now but am finding they are harder to find! I'm a sucker for a smocked nightgown.

Petra said...

I've never planned a Christmas in advance, but how about Menu Planning, and brainstorming on a Decorating Theme? I know that many of the things that inspire us for those are only available a lot closer to the time though. Let us know how it works out for you and your sister - very ambitious and organised of you - and I definitely hear you on the 'wanting to spend quality time together during the holidays'.

J and Company said...

I am doing the exact same thing! I was feeling kind of dorky about it, but since Stephmodo is doing it, that means it is not dorky but chic and organized! I am almost done with the shopping and now you have inspired me to get working on the other details as well. I want to enjoy the time too and not stress. If you find any cute Christmas jammies would you let us, your readers, know? Such a great idea!

Stephanie said...

kg, anything red is "holiday" in my book and since many fall lines came out in the last two weeks, there are surprising options. I'm not seeing collections called "holiday" per se, but I am certainly spotting dresses and such that would totally be appropriate as holiday dresses. I've often found things on Ebay and Etsy, but most of the children's clothing chains have options too...if not now, certainly before Halloween.

this is darling too:

Stephanie said...

kg, I hope those options helped!

Girlfrog, I'm off to peek at Vive la Fete...sounds adorable! The pajamas I've liked the most came from Kayce Hughes ( a couple of years ago. I too love anything smoked or scalloped...ric rac is a weakness as well!

Petra, I keep decorating super simple. Fresh evergreen boughs, mistletoe, cranberries, candles, etc. This is not only pretty easy, but since I have little storage, it's my only option too! Often boughs can be purchased through the kids' schools or some other charitable organization, for a holiday fundraiser. Keep your eyes peeled for one in your area.

J & Co, I will let you know when I find cute pj options! I'm on the hunt...:)

Ana Degenaar said...

This is about the time when my family and I will be planning Christmas. We were never very traditional, partly because we grew up all over so we would adjust to the culture we were living, then when my parents decided to settle we started traveling for Christmas, it was dreamy. I miss those traditions we built.

Jana Miller said...

I like this will make Chrismas more fun.
xo jana

Marlena said...

I mostly do the same. I shop year-round - picking up items for people, extras for hostess gifts, etc., so I'm usually done by November. Then I wrap throughout the month and don't have much to stress about. It also balances the spending, since it's not all at once.

The Parkers said...

This is just what I needed....thanks for the inspiration! Last year I spent Christmas in the hospital (unexpectedly) which definitley put a damper on the holiday, so now I'm determined to make this Christmas extra special. I also LOVE that you included your 'to-do' list in this post. I think I'll also include on my list prepping everything for my advent calendar (which includes getting and wrapping a few little gifts and trinkets, planning some activities, and getting little goodies for each door) and making sure to get all my stocking stuffers. By starting preparations now it will ease the financial burden of the holidays and we'll avoid all those awful holiday crowds and picked over shelves! Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Cookie Logs!

I start making these the day after thanksgiving and many are great frozen for several weeks after! Great hostess gift too, or to bring to a holiday shindig.

Several years ago I was in serious testing mode for these. Here are my favorites:
I shred the coconut ahead and freeze so it stays fresh tasting

Cranberry Cookies

50 to 60 Cookies

For a chewier cookie, substitute ¾ cup of dark brown sugar for the granulated and light brown sugars and bake the cookies 2 or 3 minutes less that directed in the recipe. If good quality candied citrus peel is not available, don’t use the gummy flavorless kind to be found in most supermarkets; instead, substitute the finely grated zest of 1 large orange.

My note: I think just light brown sugar would be a best bet next time. Could freeze balls and bake later as an option also. May also want to add 3 tbsp of chopped candied ginger, but certainly excellent without. This is a wonderful chewy drop cookie that has all kinds of wonderful flavors bursting in your mouth as you chew. I think it is a special cookie for Christmas for the pretty red cranberries, and candied orange that looks and tastes great. Could also bake these larger and give as a gift in a cellophane bag, tied with a bow.

1 ¼ cup sifted all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup vegetable shortening
6 tbsp granulated sugar
6 tbsp light brown sugar
1 large egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup raw cranberries, chopped
½ cup Candied Orange and Lemon Peel (I use just orange and that was great!)
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I used pecans)

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt on a sheet of wax paper and set aside. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and shortening until light. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy. Add the egg and beat well, then beat in the vanilla. Slowly, add the flour mixture to the bowl and mix until just combined. Add the cranberries, candied peel, and nuts and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Cover the dough with wax paper and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or butter them.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto the prepare cookies sheets, leaving 1 ½ inches between each cookie. (A melon baller works great for this.) Bake the cookies in the middle of the oven for 9-11 minutes, or until they are golden. Leave on the cookie sheet for 2 or 3 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool. Store the cookies in airtight containers for up to one week; freeze for up to 2 months.

5 out of 5
The Christmas Cookie Book

Anonymous said...

I spent last Halloween gathering dried pumpkin stems from our local farm to make these. Of course, they can be purchased already finished too! (

I got permission from the pumpkin patch owner and was told I could have the stems for free. If they are dried in the sun, they will be permanantly preserved.

They are great for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas Decorations! Silk velvet has the nicest effect, especially in a two tone coloring. Just cut a circle (in varying sizes and colors) put a running stitch at the top. Gather thread halfway. Fill with rice, add some batting on top, pull the thread to gather tightly. Make a stong knot. Glue the pumpkin stem of the right size proportion to the pumpkin.

This is such a great gift for a hostess as well!

Carrie said...

I am starting the same thing!

Ambyr said...

THIS is why I love your blog! Something I think about doing every year but then forget until my head is under water the next year! You have inspired me! Please keep us updated on your progress. Thanks for sharing. :)

Stephanie said... many great tips from you all. Thank you! I knew I was missing a few things and now I know just what they are. Awesome.

Good luck making all your Christmas plans too!

littlestreetfighter's Mom said...

yay, good on ya for adding the party side bar. I loove your parties and have quite a few times had to scan your blog to find my favorite things. I love the simplicity. It has motivated me to do more despite my budget.


lynne said...

great reminder!!

I love the pajamas at Tea right now and am thinking about getting them this month for Christmas eve...

kalanicut said...

You inspire me at just the right time to really make a go of getting ahead. Again it totally wasn't in my head at all and it really is not very far away at all.

Last year I shopped ahead & my darn family decided at the beginning of Dec. not to do gifts. My organized, planner little self was not happy. LOL. So I saved gifts 4 birthdays.

I'm going to get on the stick NOW. I have a few unfinished crafty projects from last year. I could definitely work on those now.

Monique said...

As always, you're an inspiration! I had a somewhat miserable lead-up to the Christmas holidays last year due to lack of preparation (and over-acheivingness!) and I am determined to not let that happen this year. Your post has inspired me to make my own list. Thank you so much for posting your 'to-do' list, I would love to see an update in a few months!

And also, *great* deals at Vandalia St Press!

Jessica said...

I was just thinking about trying to start on Christmas early this year. . . definitely trying to come up with a fun idea for neighbors and teachers that can be done well in advance.

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