GET A HEAD START ON CHRISTMAS- Do these things now so your holiday season will be merry and bright! 

If you are reading this on October 5th, did you know there are only 82 days until Christmas? 82 DAYS… YIKES!!!!  Don’t get all crazy on me now. Breathe and calm down. If we start doing planning for Christmas now we will be able to breeze into the holiday season and really enjoy a holly jolly Christmas! It is NOT too early! Trust me on this! Let’s talk about what to do NOW for Christmas!!!!

Today is a really fun and personal Decorating Tips And Tricks!!! We are sharing ways WE KEEP OUR HOMES ORGANIZED, CLEAN AND RUNNING SMOOTHLY!

Listen below:

You can listen to all 107 episode of DTT HERE

OKAY… let’s talk Christmas. Don’t we all want to enjoy and soak in this beautiful and blessed time of year? One of the best ways to help that happen is to start thinking about and planning and doing things for Christmas now! Here are my best “do it now” ideas…


Actually, make a few lists! Lists are a great way to plan. And I always say… “If you fail to plan you plan to fail”! So true!

Start lists in a notebook or on your smartphone (I love the Evernote app). Here are some lists to start to put together now…

  • gift list
  • things to do
  • things to buy
  • things to make/ projects/DIY
  • events and parties
  • Christmas card list
  • entertaining
  • meals and menus and food shopping
  • decorations
  • cleaning list
  • guest lists

You can also make a Christmas planner, but I find it just as easy to dedicate one notebook to each Christmas year. And I do so many lists right on my smartphone so I always have my lists with me. 


Well maybe not your mailman or Fed Ex guy, but it’s a great idea to get an idea of what your family would love to get. 

When my children were younger it was so easy to buy for them. I knew their heart’s desire. But now that everyone is out of the nest I like them to let me know what they are hoping for.

Don’t forget to ask for sizes and colors too! 

Here’s how I get my gift list together for my family. I send out a family email and ask everyone to give me 5-8 ideas for gifts including size and color etc. Then I ask them to send me a link to that item in an email. Boy, this makes things so much easier! They also know just because they sent me their wish list does not mean they are getting everything on it. I might have some better ideas for them.

I miss some the element of surprise by asking them what they would like, but I always have other surprises for them up my sleeve!

I keep all the wish lists in a Christmas 2017 folder in my email.

Last year I ordered almost everything for Christmas online. I LOVED it! I kept a good eye on for sales so I got a bigger bang for my buck!


One of the best things I ever did was to create a gift closet. Really, it’s part of a closet in my office. I have cards for all occasions on hand and hostess type gifts. When I go shopping and see something really special I pick it up and put it in the gift closet for future use. 

Here’s how it come in handy at Christmas. These pretty gifts become hostess gifts and gift exchanges and teacher gifts etc. And I always have a couple extra gifts wrapped under the tree for friends that drop by! Make sure your gift closet has some nice men’s gifts too!

No stressing to get those extra little gifts at Christmas! Done and done!


If you send cards it’s a great idea to start them early when the hustle and bustle of Christmas leaves no time to write them. If you like to take family pictures let your family know the what, where and dress for the Christmas family picture early.

No, this wasn’t our actual Christmas card but my boys had so much fun!  Anderson was about a month old, Abby was expecting Emma Katen and was feeling queasy, Jonathan was observing that old and honored hunting tradition no-shave-November, I was miserable with a broken ankle and the park ranger was not happy that we parked the car on the road and not in the parking lot because I could not walk very well! All in all, it was such a great family day even though to get pictures it was like herding cats!

The pictures were taken at the Nation Arboretum in Washington DC. 

I love these funny pictures just as much as the ones that made the cut! And believe me, we have lots and lots of them!!!!!

Jacqueline and Jonathan did use this image for their Christmas Card…

I took almost 900 pictures to get our perfect Christmas card. But I have so many funny, sweet and beautiful pictures in the bunch that are so precious to me!

Anderson looked like this for such a fleeting moment! Now he’s on the move and won’t stand still for a picture! I’m so glad I have these memories in pictures.

I have already let everyone in my family know that Christmas pictures will be taken the weekend before Thanksgiving here at StoneGable. We are going to be in the back of our red Ford pickup with lots of greens, plaid blankets, and a Christmas tree. We are all wearing red/ white/ khaki and denim. Sounds like a plan!

Do yourself a big favor this year, plan on a family Christmas photo. These pictures are priceless! And you will have a blast!


I have a list of things I am planning on making for Christmas this year. And I’ve just begun to get my supplies together.  I can’t tell you the gifts I am making for my kids because they read StoneGable and I don’t want to spoil it. But I’m really excited to start this project!

The time to not start your Christmas DIY projects is after Thanksgiving. It is just too stressful! Start NOW!



Other than lists, if you do this one thing you will make your Christmas so so much easier! Create a portable gift wrapping station like the one I have HERE

Wrap gifts as you get them and stash them away. Just a reminder… number your gifts! I give each package a number (mark it on the bottom of the gift with a marker) and make a list (yes, another one) with the number of the gift, the recipient, and what the gift is.

Really, do this because it will help you avoid giving your son your daughter’s Victoria Secret bra. And your daughter will not be embarrassed by your son wearing it on his head like Micky Mouse ears ( don’t deny it, Christopher, we have pictures).



Everyone’s calendars fill up so quickly during the holidays. Plan all your events now! Get it on the calendar and let everyone know! 

If you have always wanted to host a Christmas cocktail party or Progressive dinner plan it now! If you are dying to have a Cookie Exchange get it on the calendar! It is not too early to send out save the dates or invites!

Plan your menus for Christmas and make a shopping list. It’s far easier to buy non-perishable and frozen items as you go.

If your holiday meals involve everyone helping out and bringing something work that out now and get it on the list.

It’s all about peace of mind and not stressing because you have too much to do in a short time span.


Our Christmas traditions are the thread that runs through each Christmas making it special to our family. I bet you have your traditions too!

Take a little time to think about your Christmas traditions and purposefully plan for them.

We kick off the Christmas season by going to some kind of Christmas event the Saturday after Thanksgiving as a big extended family. This takes planning but it is so worth it!

In the past, we have gone to the Ford’s Theater in DC to see A Christmas Carol, toured Mount Vernon by Candlelight, enjoyed a Christmas Review at The American Music Theater, experienced the first Christmas at Sight And Sound and spent an afternoon at Santa’s Village to name just a few. This tradition is so precious to our family! We have already planned our Christmas Kick-Off for this year!

We have lots of special Christmas traditions! And they define our Christmas celebrations as OURS!

My favorite tradition is we read the Christmas story from the book of Luke and sing Christmas carols before eating or opening gifts. It a time of family worship and celebration!

If you don’t have Christmas tradition start your own this year! 

I bet you are seeing a common theme of this post. Plan, plan, plan… NOW!!!

I hope I’ve helped you think about ways to make Christmas meaningful and fun for you without all the stress of last minute preparation!

I’d love to hear any Christmas planning ideas you have. Please share!

You might like to follow me on Pinterest and see what I’m finding to pin every day HERE.

GET A HEAD START ON CHRISTMAS- Do these things now so your holiday season will be merry and bright!

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  1. Thank you so much for the great ideas. I have already planned Christmas dinner and made the shopping list, bought my Christmas cards and labels so I have a start. After reading your post, I have more to do!

  2. Some great tips here. I too buy gifts for Christmas all year round. I pick things up at craft fairs, sales & eBay.I have a special deep designated drawer to keep them in.
    I buy my cards, ribbon & Jumbo rolls of wrapping paper at Costco. They are such good quality from there & such a reasonable price.
    I love the sound of your Christmas card photo for this year.
    Merry Christmas! 81 more sleeps!

  3. Have already started addressing Christmas cards and adding the personal notes to each card. Do a few each evening so they do not look as I rushed thru them.

  4. You and I are of the same mind when it comes to planning ahead for Christmas! My granddaughters (age 11) are with us for a couple of days and yesterday we made bars of soap for them to give as Christmas gifts. Today we’ll wrap the soap, label and tag each gift. They love being creative and I love teaching them new things. They are also learning to knit while here, in between soap making and letting the bars harden.
    As for the Christmas cards I always have a great family shot on one side and on the other side, a shot of the four grands being themselves . . . silly and uncooperative.
    One of our Christmas traditions is for the adults to draw names and stuff that person’s stocking. It’s a lot of fun shopping for the one who’s name you draw and leads to a lot of laughs on Christmas morning. I began my shopping for the name I will draw while in the Rockies this past August – there are so many things to buy that are great for male or female.
    I, too, have a big chest of drawers where I store things bought on sale throughout the year to use for hostess or other gifts.
    We definitely think alike when it comes to Christmas!!

    1. I also love doing things with our grandchildren…all 8 of them! They always love being at our home during Christmas season because I decorate way more than their parents do and they love it!

    2. Such great ideas, Vicky! One year Bobby and I only exchanged stockings. It was so fun. You can get a whole lot of little packages into a stocking. And you know what they say about little stockings!

  5. Love all your ideas for planning ahead! Like the idea of the phone app list! I have already bought 3 presents, doubling back to consignment shops after my daughter in law was here!

    Your family pictures were great!

  6. This post is exciting to me as I’m a “pre-planner” for all things Christmas! I usually get out my saved Christmas magazines in July and start fingering through them looking for any missed idea from a previous year! I love to know where I’ll put my tree (or 12 trees) and the them I’ll use on most of them! I also re-arrange furniture in October getting rooms ready for the upcoming rush of decorating! I realize not EVERYONE has the same love I have for this season, but I will say I love to ready our home and my heart for this most precious season of the year…my Savior’s Birth! Thanks for this post..

  7. Wonderful post, Yvonne! You gave a clear model for getting a head start for the upcoming holiday season. Thanks for posting at this time…early enough to make a difference in my planning.

  8. Loved the post! Great suggestions and just in time to get a jump on Christmas planning. Wishing you and yours a blessed holiday together.

  9. Oh, you are so right about everything! Planning is key. I’ve never kept a gift closet but after reading about yours it’s clear that I should have one, too!

  10. WOW! Christmas. Your ideas are right on for the holidays. I am always scrambling for Christmas card ideas and maybe when we are together next time, we should get that perfect picture. Planning ahead helps.

  11. I bake lots of cookies…..35 different kinds. I will start making doughs now and freeze them. November is baking time. Denny and I work very well together. He’s become very professional at dipping and drizzling. All baked cookies rest in the freezer until the week after Thanksgiving when tins and trays are filled and the out of town ones are on the way to anxious recipients. Local ones are delivered in person. People say we bake the best cookies in the world. I say it’s all about the timing…the first Christmas treats always taste the best.

  12. First off, I absolutely LOVE that you shared some of your treasured family photographs with us. They’re just precious, you are truly blessed with a beautiful loving family! I make ALL of my Christmas cards, and if I can, my gift tags as well! I make about 75 cards by hand. I use Christmas card kits from a popular craft lady named Anna Griffin, but also add my own embellishments and give it a personal touch. My tags are die cuts and hand-stamped, with beautiful ribbons and embellishments on them. I start in October, once I’m decorated for Fall. I have to start early. It’s never too early to start planning for Christmas, the best time of the year!

  13. Thank you for sharing your gorgeous family photos! The photos and you family are beautiful. I also enjoy the decorating pictures you included-I always get such wonderful ideas from your posts. Thank s again!

  14. You are so organized! I love it – just wish I was as organized. Seems there are so many things pulling me in different directions – work, grandkids, housework, etc. I am definitely going to send that request for a wish list out now, great idea! I am particularly struggling this year b/c our youngest daughter may be moving out of the country and cannot bring anything much with them or their 6 children. Any ideas???? They will be living simply so nothing extravagant.
    Thanks for sharing you ideas with us. I will start planning now…after I do the laundry that has piled up. lol

    1. Google the city/area where they are going. Look for memberships to museums, children’s museums, historic house, whatever you think will be enjoyable for them to explore, and buy that. Or, a subscription to…the opera, the orchestra. Remember, in European cities, these are often much more a part of everyday life than they might be here. Or, gift certificates to one of the best restaurants…or some of the top tourist attractions, which can often set a family back $50 or 60 bucks, or more, but is important to the city itself (like the Lippazaner stallions in Vienna, which is so cool, but soon expensive!)
      Or, make a Personalized tourist guide Just For Them, that includes odds they might not find on their own. Include the cash for some of them, maybe.

      Does this help? Hope So!

  15. You are awesome, Yvonne! When I saw the heading of today’s post … I sighed oh no!! But some of the things you mentioned should be considered now so to avoid stress & confusion & conflict! This is a special time of the year & we need to be with one another in a peaceful environment! Thank you!

  16. I love your idea of sending out the email to family members ! That is such great if I can only follow through with half of your suggestions! Great post!!

  17. You always have such great ideas and are so well organized! You are a treat to read. Thank you for all the helpful hints and suggestions.

  18. Merry Christmas (early), Yvonne —

    I’m from Dutch background, so I get together with my sister-in-law, my niece, and, grandnieces and grandnephews to bake peppernuts. It’s such a huge batch that we take them to the neighbors, too. Sadly, it won’t happen this year because we moved to a different state. Still, I plan to bake peppernuts.

    My husband is Norwegian, so between Christmas and the New Year we make lefse or potato pancakes. DELISH!

    Have a blessed Christmas.

  19. Great post – thank you. I have been telling myself to do this the past few years so I can just enjoy the time when my grown kids are back home – not rushing to a store for one more thing. This is the reminder I needed and a great start on my lists (love lists). You have a beautiful family!

  20. Seven lists in progress so far! My son is getting married in our loft home right after Christmas, making that the last of 7 big December events. Couldn’t get it all done without those lists.

  21. These are awesome tips – I have done the gift lists and shopping but never this early and I will have to try that APP you have. GREAT ideas thank you!!!!

  22. After moving last year to our new home in 30 days the holidays were a blur. This year I’m looking forward to putting up the first Christmas tree. Not 100% sure if it will stay in an upright position, our kitten will be 1.5yrs old but still a tear. So enjoying the fall decorations (it is my favorite time of year) so they will be in place until Thanksgiving. Yvonne – thank you for a beautiful blog, it always makes my day!

  23. I love your family traditions! Its just so hard to get everyone together. You are very lucky! Also you gave lots of good advice for prepping for Christmas. It really does take lots of time and planning! Thank you!

  24. You have the most beautiful family, Yvonne. Precious time with family is the best. I will be thinking ahead as well.

  25. Yvonne, you have always inspired me in such a spiritual way. Seeing the photos of your beautiful family inspires me even more. I LOVE seeing you with your growing family. Everyone looks SO happy. In fact, I may print the one with you in it and put it in my tabletop of photographs of my friends and family. And, I definitely need this list. Maybe if I start right now I can have my house in order by the time it’s Christmas. Maybe I should send out invitations to a holiday party right this minute so I’ll have a real reason to get organized !!

  26. A super post about organization and planning ahead! Thanks for sharing . I love all of your ideas, and the tradition of doing something together as a family before Christmas is really wonderful. What a neat way to start the Christmas holiday! I just might steal that one ! 🙂

  27. Such a timely post on planning for Christmas Card photos! I was just thinking about that a few days ago, and am going to ask our family to plan on wearing green! For 3 out of 5 — it’s their favorite color! We also had a photo op when we visited our daughter at college on Family Weekend. Daughter 1 was home in August for a family gathering, and we planned out our Black Friday Hike that we like to do when my sister-in-law’s family is with us at Thanksgiving (alternate years/Thanksgiving/Christmas). So I’ve prepared a “save the date” card to mail out to her family and some other extended cousins on my husbands side, as they are local, but we all have busy lives.
    Thanks for the tips. Best of luck with your planning.

  28. Love this post, Yvonne… and love the pics even more! We just went and did family pics this past weekend. Going to use them on my ‘about’ page on the blog. 🙂

  29. Such great advice. Good planning really does help keep the focus in the right place. “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”

  30. Life passes quickly. It seems just yesterday my family gatherings were huge and filled with laughter. The group dwindles but grows in different ways. We’ve never done a grown up family photo and now that there are two babies and a first grader, it would be fun!! I’m not sure we would ever be at the same place at the same time but I may plan that now!! And dream.
    I loved your photos. And loved how you painted your toes for the photo shoot. You are so special and beautiful. I read old posts and read the World Market post. Mine is less than five minutes from here. I’d forgotten how I’d gather fun gifts from there each year! I’m keeping them in mind.

  31. Such a great post!! I also send my family emails for their list. I ask that they send me 5 to 6 things that they are hoping for. It helps me so much and keeps the stress down from searching or guessing what they might want. You have such a beautiful family and I really enjoyed seeing the picture. I hope that we get to see some of this years Christmas, it sounds like they are going to be great. Who can go wrong with a red truck and

  32. I admire your organizational skills in preparing for Christmas but I am just going to put your blogs in a folder to read after Halloween. Love autumn and want to enjoy it to the fullest. Still hasn’t even turned cool yet. The older I get the more I want time to slow down and even if it means little chaos at the holidays its our family tradition!

  33. Yvonne
    I think if we lived near each other, we would be very good friends!! I do so many of the things you mentioned…I am a list girl too! Unfortunately, I am not a DYI er, so I visit a lot of craft fairs and holiday bazaars to get my fix of homemade goodies…

    You have inspired to start my lists tomorrow!


    PS…Of all the blogs I read, your home is the one that speaks to me the most 🙂

  34. Invaluable information! I agree it is never to early to start planning for Christmas. It makes the holidays so much less stressful.

  35. I have only been following you since June. I m so glad I found your blog! I have been going through your many older post and total enjoying them. This is also my first time to leave a comment on a blog. I had to tell you that these are such useful tips, that I also use. I have a folder where I have listed a summary of that holiday and all the activities we enjoyed. I write the list of cookies I made,Christmas menu, etc…With six grandchildren, I want to make sure to remember their favorite foods. I too like to use gift ideas and always have something small they don’t know they are getting.

  36. Beautiful pictures of your family. I am using the same red, white & black colors with a touch of silver. Thanks for the early start.

  37. I am starting a new tradition this year as I now have a daughter in law. Your blog reinforced my planning and excitement! Thank you!

  38. Love your Christmas photos! Since our children live out of town, we usually take ours at Thanksgiving, so we can have them ready for Christmas cards. The “crazy” ones as our grandgirls call them are priceless!

  39. This is the first time I’ve seen your blog. Love it. I’m a list maker too. I’m going to try the Evernote app.
    Love the family pictures.

  40. Oh I love this post! This is my favorite one yet! And I so enjoyed seeing the pictures of you & your family!!! Thanks for all the great tips!!!!

  41. Loved”meeting” your family! This post got me in the spirit of the holidays and I’m going to start making those lists tonight.

  42. Hello!
    Love your blog…wondering how you did you plates and hangers for your aprons??? It is so adorable and would love to do in my pantry. Thanks!

  43. I just finished going through your article and I have to comment, it was an absolute pleasure. Your writing practice is engaging and descriptive, making me feel like I was right there with you on your experience. The picture you included were also remarkable and really added to the overall quest. cheers