As a shameless Christmas-obsessed person, I mark my calendar for November 1st every year. Because that’s the day when all of the other holidays finally hang up their hats and concede that Christmas is the one true reason for celebrating and it’s about time we honor that. Except Thanksgiving, of course. But we’ll let T-giving slide because we love turkey. As soon as that last trick-or-treater leaves, I get a tiny bubble of excitement in my stomach. It’s almost time! And sure, almost everyone I know will say “it’s way too early”. They’ll complain that there are Christmas trees, fake santas, and festive songs everywhere they turn. And to that I say: embrace it! Admire the twinkling lights on the trees, laugh at the tiny children being forced to sit on Santa’s lap, and sing along to that Christmas carol we all know you know the words to. It’s a holiday that is all about spreading joy and being with loved ones, what’s wrong with starting that a few weeks early?
15. Play Their Christmas Music
My first transition from “Pre-Christmas Gloom” to “Christmas Season Glee” is a subtle change of the playlist. Some years I start slow by adding a festive song or two to my daily music line up. But this year I went full force. I switched out my daily playlist in favor of a 600+ song playlist featuring every Christmas song you’ve ever heard sung by every artist who has ever performed it. Creating that playlist was one of my proudest moments. And now that “Monster Mash” and “I Put A Spell On You” are officially retired, it’s time to bust out all of the “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” renditions I can find. Who doesn’t want a little Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra or Kelly Clarkson crooning while they munch on whatever is left of the Halloween candy?
14. Put Up The Tree
Out with the pumpkin and in with the evergreen! November means time to put up the tree. Now, I know a lot of Christmas purists will argue that you can’t even think about a tree until December 1st, but let me tell you why that’s a huge mistake. First of all. guess what gets marked up on Dec 1? Trees. And ornaments. And tree skirts, angels, tinsel, etc. So I would actually advise buying your tree and tree accessories in January when all that stuff goes on sale. And secondly, you know how people always complain about what a hassle it is to put up the tree? That’s because you lay around and all of a sudden have to rush to put it up on Dec 23, enjoy it for 3 days, and then take it down again. But if you put it up now, you’ll have lots of time to sip a glass of wine on your couch and admire your handiwork.
13. Bake Christmas Cookies
Who doesn’t love a good Christmas cookie? Even the anti-Christmas people can’t get mad at those who want to bake deliciousness a month early, right? Because more Christmas cookies means more yum for everyone. Those cookies get brought to work, to brunch with the girlfriends, to house visits, and sometimes just mysteriously show up on your kitchen counter, still warm from the oven and smelling delicious. You can make them in countless festive shapes, from a box, from scratch, with icing, without icing, adding nuts, adding coconut- whatever you want! Christmas cookies are a free for all and delicious as all heck. Of course we’re going to start baking them in November. Plus, we need ample time to perfect our recipe before the big night: Dec 24th, when we leave out our best batch for Santa. The dude has Martha Stewart level standards when it comes to cookies.
12. Go Shopping
Christmas shopping is the best because it’s one of the few times where you can justify spending money. Of course I have to go to the mall this weekend, I’m Christmas shopping! I should absolutely spend all night browsing Etsy for that perfect gift, it’s Christmas afterall! And Christmas shopping is 100% guilt-free. You can never feel bad about buying something for someone you love. And while you’re shopping, you’ll probably be able to find somethings to add to your own wishlist. Pick up a sweater for Aunt Karen and mental note to tell your mom about a pair of boots you saw that you would die for. Plus, if you start your shopping in November, you’ll be able to beat the notoriously awful Christmas shopping crowds that peak in mid-December. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
11. Wrap Everything In Sight
My happy place is sprawled on the living room floor at my parents’ house, with a tower of to-be-wrapped gifts on one side of me, and countless rolls of wrapping paper on the other. I put on my Christmas playlist, light the fireplace and get to work. There’s something about covering up the perfect gift in a beautiful and mysterious paper packaging that really thrills me. Choosing between the dancing penguins, snowflakes or candy canes is something I spend tense minutes debating over. Those crisp edges, perfectly taped corners and smooth sides of a wrapped present give me chills. And don’t even get me started on the ribbon box. Or picking out a to/from gift tag. There’s a reason my family leaves all of the Christmas wrapping to me. Leave me in that living room with my gifts to wrap and keep the hot cocoa coming!
10. Wear Ugly Christmas Sweaters
How awesome is it that an article of clothing that is purposefully meant to be ugly is actually on trend? And that said article is shameless, oversized and comfortable as ever? Did we luck out with this one or what? So, of course I’m going to start sporting my ugly Christmas sweater in November. Why would I not wear an obnoxiously bright red, mens XXL cable knit sweater adorned with a felt reindeer and bells? That sounds like the dream. And since I’m such a fan of the ugly festive garments, you know I’ve got quite a collection. So I actually do have to start wearing them in November in order to get through them all. You don’t want to play favorites when it comes to your chunky knits. But don’t worry, I save my ugliest one for Christmas morning!
9. Watch Sappy Christmas Movies
Love Actually is actually the best movie of all time. I don’t care who you are or what you know, if you have seen Love Actually, you loved it. And if you haven’t, that’s a crying shame and you should think about what a mistake you’ve made while tracking down the film for immediate viewing. It’s got everything: romance, comedy, singing, and British accents. I watch it five times per Christmas season minimum. And the best part is that Love Actually is only one of an amazing repertoire of holiday films. Just flip through your channel guide this weekend and I’m sure you’ll find a gem of a made-for-TV movie that ends with someone proposing by the Christmas tree or reunting with their family on a sleigh or something else melodramatic and so perfect for the season.
8. Buy An Advent Calendar, Or Two
Advent calendars are one of the greatest inventions of all time. First, they count down to the most magical day of all, Christmas. Second, they reward you with a sweet goodness for everyday you patiently wait until the best holiday of all time. Third, they come in all sorts of varieties! The traditional advent calendars have cheap little chocolates for each day but you can upgrade to fancy chocolate or even sub in a different candy if you’re crazy and not a chocolate fan. There are advent calendars for tea, bath products, makeup and even alcohol. So my suggestion? Get a few. If you start in November, you’ll even have time to finish two in a row! Or you can just work on multiple ones at the same time. There’s no wrong way to advent calendar.
7. Start Planning Christmas Dinner, Forgetting That We Still Have Thanksgiving
Don’t get me wrong, Thanksgiving dinner is a big deal. But, it’s just the warm up. Christmas is the marathon. Thanksgiving dinner is all predetermined. You’ve got your turkey, your stuffing, your gravy, your cranberry sauce, and a weird vegetable casserole no one really likes. As long as your turkey isn’t dry AF, you’re golden. Christmas dinner is a whole other ball game. To start, there’s no go-to Christmas meal. Do you go for a turkey again even though you just had one? Do you try ham? Or do you go non-traditional and opt for something cool like sushi or tacos? And then it isn’t just one day. Odds are you’re headed to multiple meals where you are responsible for a myriad of dishes. So you can see why we need to start planning this menu and coordinating logistics in early November.
6. Put Together The Annual Christmas Card
Giving cards is the ultimate way to show we care. We give them out at birthdays, on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, at weddings, and a few other events when we’re celebrating with our loved ones. How great is it that at Christmas you get to give out cards to almost everyone you know? You’re not restricted to giving a card to only the birthday boy or just you mom. At Christmas, everyone gets a card! The mailman, your barista, and maybe even the gas station attendant gets one. So if everyone is getting this card, it better look nice. I’m talking designer quality featuring a professional-level photo and words that will bring a tear to the eye. This kind of magic doesn’t just happen overnight. So move aside and let me start planning our coordinated outfits for the Christmas card photo.
5. Practice Caroling
Listen, it takes work to perfectly nail the angelic yet powerful vocal quality that is needed to really succeed in modern day caroling. This isn’t just something you decide to do on Dec 23rd. You really need to work for it. Did you know that there are three verses of “Silent Night?” That’s right; it doesn’t all end after we sleep in heavenly peace. And don’t even get me started on all the words to “Oh Christmas Tree.” Who knows the order of all 12 days of Christmas? A true caroler who starts their practice in November. Plus, if your family is new to the caroling game, you may need to accompany the novice singers with a musical instrument. Quick- you’ve got less than two months to brush up on your piano lessons or find that old guitar hiding in your attic! Go!
4. String The Lights
Christmas lights are one of the most gorgeous parts of the holiday season. When I was a kid, my dad would pack us all up in the car and we’d drive around and rate the lights on our neighbours’ houses. My dad was always a fan of the blow up characters on the front lawn while I preferred a more classic look with uniform lights. Either way, lights have always been a big deal. And there’s no better time to get stringing them than in November. Why? Because it’s only going to get colder. You don’t want to get caught standing on a ladder trying to untangle a web of lights while your teeth chatter and your fingertips turn to icicles. Pick a balmy autumn day in November and get to stringing. You can always add more decor later if you’re feeling a bit outdone.
3. Perfect Their ‘Nog Recipe
Eggnog is something of a religion in my household. The minute is goes on sale, we always rush to see who is going to be putting the first eggnog carton of the year onto its rightful place on the shelf in our fridge. But that store-bought carton crap is just to get us through. What we really live for is homemade eggnog. And each year we try to up our ‘nog game a little bit. Should we use more rum? More nutmeg? Serve it in a mason jar with a Christmas-coloured ribbon or a festive mug with Santa’s face on it? The options are endless. But every year, we joyfully announce that this is our best eggnog yet as we sit back and sip until the new year jolts us back to reality. Drink up while you can!
2. Sneak Christmas Words Into Their Daily Conversations
The Christmas lexicon is a wonderful thing. There are just so many festive words and ideas associated with the holiday. And it is so easy to incorporate them into your everyday life. Just start casually slipping in a few winter words as you talk to people. That coworker of yours who always steals pens off your desk isn’t a thief, he’s a sneaky elf. When you use your phone flashlight to find that missing earring that hit the floor, you’re pulling a Rudolph. Packed your lunch for work? Mrs. Claus would be proud. Instead of wishing people a good day hope that their day is merry and bright. And the forecast isn’t calling for snow, it’s calling for a white Christmas! See? It’s so easy to sub in some festive phrases and seasonal sayings into your everyday vocabulary.
1. Figure Out What The Deal Is With Figgy Pudding
Okay, I’ll admit it. I have no idea what figgy pudding is. Does anyone? All I know is that we ask for it earnestly and then refuse to leave until we get some. But what the heck is it? In my mind, I was hoping it would be chocolate-y, booze-y, delicious, and nothing like that horrendous loaf of fruitcake that always shows up around Christmas. But Google tells me it’s a pudding made of figs that can be baked, steamed, boiled or fried. Go figure. Sounds like a distant cousin of the fruitcake and like it would taste horrendous. I vote that we take out figgy pudding and replace it with something better. Bread pudding? Sticky toffee pudding? Heck, even a cup of chocolate pudding might be better than this figgy stuff. I vote no on anything that originated in 16th Century England and that can be cooked four different ways. Hard pass.