As the year nears its end, It’s time one again to tally ballots, honor our veterans, and trim those turkeys while watching a parade or the big game. But, November and December also a great preparation months for the main event, the big daddy of them all, the annual Christmas holiday season! After all, there is no harm in planning ahead, and getting a bit of the grunt work done prior to December 1st is certainly not a bad thing. So, here are a few items to check off your holiday list in advance:

1. Deep Cleaning In and Around the House

The first and probably most important thing that you can do in preparation of Christmas is to give your home a thorough cleaning. You should wipe down all the counter tops and tables, as well as your refrigerator and microwave, so your kitchen is clear and ready for a season of holiday cooking. Toss out older food items and leftovers that no one intends to eat to make room for Christmas goodies. Then sweep and mop your floors and vacuum your carpets thoroughly of the autumn leaves that the kids tracked in.

Remember to also take this time to put your spring and summer clothes away in storage to make adequate room for your winter wardrobe. In the spirit of Christmas giving, why not donate any older children’s clothing that no longer fits to a respectable charity?

2. Hang Your Outdoor Lights

It may seem silly, but the fall weather that most of the country experiences prior to Thanksgiving provides the perfect backdrop for the labor-intensive chore of hanging outdoor Christmas lights. It is not too hot, not too cold, and usually any winter precipitation is still seen at a minimum.

And, if you are a little gun-shy about flipping on that pre-season holiday cheer prior to Black Friday, you can still hang your decorations and just not light them up until you are comfortable doing so.

3. Plan All Gift Giving Far Ahead

Now is the time to brainstorm! Make a complete list of all your family and friends, including your co-workers, boss, neighbors, and your children’s teachers.

Take a look around the internet to get a feel for the type of gifts that are appropriate for everyone on your list. Browse some of the top parenting blogs for the year’s top age-appropriate toys for your own children. And, remember, even if you would rather shop the malls this season than order gifts online, the internet is still a great place to start finding ideas. 4. Plan your Indoor Décor and Design

November and the beginnings of December the perfect time to plan your interior decorations and to get a head start on decoration shopping before you find yourself fighting the holiday shopping crowds. Now is the time to take a good look at your lights and check for any bulbs that may have burnt out in storage. It is also a good time to check your classic Christmas “balls” and see if any had mysteriously shattered in the last eleven months. Replacements are actually surprisingly easy to find in November. After all, Walmart and Target and many other big box stores start selling Christmas decorations, like affordable artificial xmas trees, as early as the week after Labor Day.

You should also start browsing through magazines and catalogs early to spot new trends in holiday décor. You might want to add a few modern accents to your old collection.

5. Prepare Travel Plans

Are you going to visit relatives or friends out of the immediate area? Are bus, train, or plane tickets required? Do you need a hotel, or are you arranging an extended stay with family? These are questions that you should have answered before Thanksgiving ascends upon us.

You should get any tickets you need as far ahead of schedule as possible. After all, the closer to Christmas that you plan a trip, and the closer to the departure date that you purchase tickets, the more expensive they tend to be.

You should also start making lists for packing as early as November. That way, you know what you want to bring and you can get your bags together closer to the time you leave. Also, remember to send any presents ahead of schedule through the mail, UPS, or Fedex so they will be at your destination when you arrive. This is so you will not have to go through the trouble of carrying them with you.

In conclusion, getting organized in advance of the Christmas countdown in December has many advantages. Not only are you reducing your to-do list in the long run, you are also clearing your late December schedule so you can enjoy that time with the ones that you love.