• Erica Lucas

30 Things to Do in October to Prepare for the Holidays

End of year stress can catch up to you. Fast. Carting all over to see family and friends, last minute shopping, baking, finding time for rest, decorating, and more has us running around for those last precious five weeks in the year.


Malay Proverb: Prepare the umbrella before it rains.
Preparation now will make December easier!

No matter how much I prepare in October and November, the holidays find me fast and I end up stressed. The looming resolutions of a new year, making sure each special person in our lives was remembered at the holidays by Christmas cards, gifts, baked goods, cash, or even a simple thank you, and the endless running around make for a fast last month of each year.


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As each year passes, I seek simplicity. Preparing for the inevitable holiday rush invites simplicity to appear when that rush finally does show its face.



Get Ready for the Holidays

In this blog post, you will find 30 things to do in October (or even November!) to prepare for the holidays.

  1. Shop and buy the matching those holiday pajamas so you have them when you want them (if matching PJs are one of your holiday traditions)

  2. Write down your holiday traditions (and potential ones you might want to start this year)

  3. Simplify your traditions (we make breakfast for dinner every New Years Eve!)

  4. Write down the necessary actions to get the traditions ready (research holiday lights shows and dates, make a holiday bucket list with your kids, etc.)

  5. Buy wrapping paper

  6. Make a list of people to buy gifts for this year

  7. Extend those lists by adding gift ideas for each person // ask family members for gift ideas // remember teachers, neighbors and services crews (mail service, trash service)

  8. Suggest traditions instead of gifts with friends (meet up at the town tree with hot chocolate and marshmallow?)

  9. Buy gifts (see my Minimalist Gift Guide from 2020 - gift guide for 2021 coming!!)

  10. Simplify gifts (bake cookies for neighbors, cash for community helpers)

  11. Unpack and declutter holiday decorations

  12. Wrap and ready gifts that need advance shipping so you can take it to the post office early December

  13. Plan holiday meals and ingredient lists // check for serving plates

  14. Simplify baking // (no bake pudding pie - yum!)

  15. Simplify gift receiving // if someone asks what you want, offer consumable suggestions (gift card to local small business coffee shop or experiences as gifts)

  16. Practice saying no // this one is hard, right?!

  17. Meal plan healthy meals at home to balance out the meals away from home

  18. Ask for help and recognize the holidays can be a joyful and depressing time of year for many

  19. 2020 and 2021 holiday celebrations may need to be held on Zoom. Make it fun! Send gifts in advance to the call and both parties could have hot chocolate ready that day!

  20. Write out packing lists for each trip (visiting multiple grandparents?)

  21. Shop online and take advantage free shipping

  22. Shop local - many places still offer curbside if you ask. Saves time and supports small businesses!

  23. Move your body a little more. Even a 5 minute walk can reduce stress.

  24. Set and keep a budget for gifts, baking, special meals, donations, and those matching pajamas (why are these so expensive?!)

  25. Organize your card list and addresses

  26. Order your holiday cards

  27. Set dates for a family bubble. For us, Dec 25 and 26 are at home, uninterrupted, and spent in pajamas for 2 straight days.

  28. Remember your stress points from last year (mine biggest stressor is all the driving) and try to think of ways to make it a little easier on yourself.

  29. Give yourself space and grace. If you pray, pray more often.

  30. Reconnect with gratitude and remember the reason for the season.

The list could go on and on! What do you do to get ready for the holidays? Leave me a comment below with more ideas and let's help one another get ready for the holidays this year!


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Decluttering Christmas Decorations

At last glance, I have 12 (ish) bins of Christmas decorations calling my name in our basement. I definitely want to declutter and reduce the amount, but Christmas decorations are one of those categories I hang onto more than other categories.


In 2019 and again in 2020, I decluttered Christmas decorations. If you are looking for motivation to do the same, play these videos as you dig out your bins early and get a handle on your decorations.


Decluttering Christmas Decorations in 2020:



and the year before, 2019 (the year my husband was deployed):




Honestly, decluttering Christmas decorations is very difficult for me. I love decorating the house, celebration Jesus, and making it a special time for my kids. At the start of my minimalist journey, we had FOUR Christmas trees. It took me two years, but we are down to one tree, but those years I had the "kids tree" I was so filled with joy. Watching them with felt ornaments, decorate a 3 foot tree, and participate in the tree trimming experience at their physical height filled my soul.


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One of those years, my husband was deployed and missed out on that memory with me. The kids are older now, but my heart still wants a kids tree for them. They are still short enough to enjoy one. We had to get rid of it because our attic had left a coating of fiberglass on the tree.



kids tree at Christmas
oooooh! that kids tree with the felt ornaments


Last year, I switched to DIY plastic ornaments that the kids decorated and hung. The memories still happened, the kids still decorated along side us, and we were intentional with our time and decorations. Having three less trees to lug out of basement storage was worth the changes.


We haven't had matching pajamas for the last two years, and I do miss the memories of that. I may have to do that this year and keep that Lucas family tradition alive. Minimalism is about making life simple and happy, at least my definition of minimalism. Matching pajamas might make this Mom happy in 2021, and we all need a little extra joy after 2020 and 2021.


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