12 Ways to Make it Christmas in July

Ahhh, summer. The days are long, the grass is green, the livin’ is easy. And the last thing on your mind is Christmas in July.

While I hate to throw cold water on your barbecue, I need to warn you about something. The holidays are just a few short months away and if there’s anything we’ve learned in the past, Christmas can creep up on you like a too-tight swimsuit.

santa hat poolside christmas in july

Blame it on SSAS—Severe Selective Amnesia Syndrome. People who suffer from this condition fall into some kind of seasonal coma. And it’s little wonder. For many, Christmas is no longer the most blessed, but the most stressed time of the year. And expensive.

Somehow we all manage to get through it, many with a pile of new debt. And who among us hasn’t begun the New Year vowing: Next year I’m starting earlier—Christmas in July!

Everyone procrastinates in some area. And some people procrastinate about everything. Why do we do it?

We feel overwhelmed

The holiday expectations we place on ourselves plus those that come from our families, the community, even the church can be so great we feel paralyzed. So we do nothing until the only choice we have is to spend as much money as it takes to get by.

We overestimate how much time we have

From where we sit here in July, Christmas seems so far away. We tell ourselves we have “plenty of time!”

We have to do it perfectly

Experts tell us that at the root of procrastination is perfectionism. Because we feel we have to do everything perfectly—and fear that we might not—we do nothing rather than run the risk of failing.

We say we work better under pressure

Waiting until the last minute can provide quite an adrenaline rush. Procrastinators believe they cannot operate without that creative surge, so they sit back and wait for it to happen.

The way to deal with procrastination is to identify why you do it. Ask yourself: What price have I paid in the past for the delay? Do I really want to pay that price, or even more, again this year?

If the answer to the last question is yes, you have lots of time; you don’t need to be thinking about the holidays yet.

If on the other hand, you are not willing to go into debt to measure up to others’ expectations, get started. Do something now.

1. Start saving

I get it that not all of us are into Christmas shopping any time other than December. It just doesn’t feel right. What you can do starting now is get diligent with creating a healthy cash stash so you have the money to do that come December.

Stash $50 a week starting now, for Christmas shopping in December. Once you are in motion it will be easier to keep going. Even if that’s all you do, you’ll be way ahead.

Money and Cash


2. Book travel

There is no doubt that the pandemic will continue to impact typical air travel and not in a good way. However, I’m hopeful as airlines are doing all they can to make travel safe. I have never in my life seen such clean airplanes, and doesn’t that make us happy!

Southwest Airlines has opened its calendar for booking flights for December much earlier than usual. And by the looks things, lots of flights are already sold out. Now’s the time to book any holiday travel you have in mind.

Southwest, which doesn’t charge travelers fees to change or cancel their flights, will waive fare differences for customers who need to change their trips because of the extended schedule disruption. Other airlines are doing all they can to waive change fees but be sure to check that out before you book travel.

3. Family photo

Whether it’s for your family Christmas card or to frame for a gift to friends and family, now’s a great time to take that photo. You’ll have plenty of time to shop around for the best price on high-quality prints.


A group of people posing for the camera


It’s hard to beat Costco’s prices and service, but you need to be a member. However, right now it doesn’t appear you can order holiday photo cards—if you want to go this route. You’ll have to check back in a few months to see if their holiday templates are available.


You can get 5×7-inch photo cards printed for as little as $1 each when you order a package of 20—and the price goes down if you order more. Even though it’s July, Snapfish has its holiday templates available for you to order and print.

Vista Print

A great source for a postcard with your photos, plus many other options. VistaPrint has frequent specials and sales throughout the summer, so check back to see if you can get a deal at VistaPrint.com. Caution: You will be hounded throughout the order process to buy all kinds of “add-ons.” Don’t waste your money. Buy only what you came to buy.

4. Family Cookbook

Compile your own personal recipe collection into a cookbook for friends and family. But don’t wait. Start now on this ambitious project.

Cookbook People

This site offers cookbook software you can buy and then print yourself.


Another site, CreateMyCookbook, offers a high-tech way to create a family cookbook. I have not used this personally, but have heard great things about it. If you use this resource, we’d love to know your experience and feedback!


Go to Office.Microsoft.com, search under “templates” and then type in “cookbook.” Or just click HERE to find a free cookbook template with complete instructions for how to make a table of contents, recipes, and how to make an index.

5. Garden gifts

Look in your garden and see what you can make, can and freeze into gifts. Try making freezer jam as a quicker alternative to going through the whole canning process. AllRecipes offers free step-by-step instructions for How to Make Freezer Jam, along with tons of other how-to articles to help you pickle, can, and preserve your garden’s bounty.


A cake with fruit on top of a table

6. Schedule December

Pull out your December calendar and mark your main plans for the holiday season—you’ll schedule around those days when things start to get hectic come November.

7. Learn a craft

You’ll never have more spare time than you have now during these lazy days of summer, so take advantage by learning a learn a new craft or polish up those you know but could use some fresh inspiration.


If you love making things, you won’t find a more useful or personally gratifying craft than knitting. It’s quite the rage now. With only a few free lessons at a local knit shop or KnittingHelp.com, you’ll be knitting scarves and hats like a pro. Or search YouTube.com for “beginning knitting.” That’s how I taught myself to knit. Right now, I’m (still) knitting a coat!


Decoupage is making a big comeback. Learn to dry the flowers of summer then use them to make beautiful gifts. Check out this free decoupage how-to.

Patterns, Kits

If you can cut, assemble, and glue things in place, take a look at The Posy Collection’s unique patterns and kits, especially the Wood Block Nativity pattern, which is just adorable. The perfect choice for child- and grandchild-play!

wood block nativity set for child play And what a lovely display when they’re done playing. Chances are pretty good you already have the materials you need to make this set—what you’re missing are the patterns and instructions.

You’ll find lots of faith-based and patriotic cross-stitch kits a The Posy Collection as well.

More ideas

Other useful crafting ideas include everything from scrapbooking to making homemade soaps and herbed vinegars. And homemade wrapping paper and tags for your gifts.

Search the Internet for how-to videos if you need some extra help with your craft. Sites like eHow.com offer endless videos to help you learn how to do make all kinds of crafts. You’ve got time!

8. Favorite Things basket

Chances are you’re familiar with Oprah’s annual show which was dedicated to showcasing her favorite things. Use that idea this year to create gift baskets for just about everyone on your holiday gift list. You’ll need to get started early.

These baskets can include a favorite book, (wink, wink) or magazine; lotion or soap; cookies or cookie recipe; a mixed CD of your favorite songs; favorite stain remover, favorite beverage, and so on. You’ll come up with all kinds of ideas once you start thinking about it.

The key is to stock up on all these items while they are on sale—and since they are your favorites, you probably already know how to get them cheap.

9. Give away treasures

Consider passing on an heirloom or family treasure to the next generation as a Christmas gift. Write up a paragraph or two explaining the history or significance of the heirloom to go along with the gift.

You’ll be preserving family history and won’t be spending a dime. But here’s the tricky part: Unless a person has expressed a particular love or desire for said heirlooms and special treasures, don’t assume your gesture will be appreciated.

10. Tie up memories

Compile a family photo album of all the old photos you have of relatives. Or pick one photo that is especially good, make several color prints (even if the original is black and white, printing it in color will give you the truest duplicate), and have each print nicely framed.

Interview an older relative and make a CD, DVD or even a written transcript of the interview for each member of the family. Ask about his or her childhood and young adult memories, family history, and their perspective on historical events that occurred during their lifetime.

11. Give an experience

In a recent survey, thousands of school children all across the country were asked what they thought makes a happy family. The kids didn’t say a big house, designer jeans or video games. The most-mentioned key to happiness was doing things together.

Or perhaps the experience you give is what you do best. Give a gift certificate for a night or two of babysitting. Make coupons for a promised service like cleaning or teaching something new, or other areas in which you are an “expert.”

You could give a friend a coupon saying: I’ll make and deliver a dessert next time you have company or I’ll keep your kids for one weekend while you take a break.

You’ve got time to think and plan for how you can give experiences this year.

12. Back to school sales

If you have kids on your holiday gift list, make sure you check out the back-to-school sales at your office supply and department stores. They nearly give away some school supplies this time of year—they’re that cheap! And kids love receiving art supplies—anything from new crayons to markers, paper, paints, and stickers.

Create craft kits or gift baskets for the kids on your list. That’s something you can do in the next month or two. Just think of all the money you’ll save—and the time you’ll give yourself in December because you did some of the holiday work early.

Merry Christmas in July, everyone!


12 Ways to Make it Christmas in July

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8 replies
  1. CdnLady says:

    $50 a week? I am trying $20 biweekly. Your newsletter is subscribed to by many single parents, most of whom cannot afford to put away $50 each week. Indeed, many couples (with or without children) may not be able to afford this. As a single parent, you have just sent me on a guilt trip, because obviously I am not earning enough despite 2 jobs, or I am not finding enough ways to save. Please be sensitive to those of us who sought you out to increase our quality of life on a less than desirable income. $20 biweekly does not add up to as much, but I have yet to spend over $500 each holiday season.

  2. Janet Hall says:

    My granddaughters enjoyed the zoo passes that I gave them a couple of years. That is a Christmas gift that keeps on giving…all year long.

  3. Sharon McIntosh says:

    So so enjoy what you share with us Mary!!
    Just finished vacuuming with my Shark vacuum cleaner that you recommended so highly I absolutely love it!
    Thank you for the good reminders about getting started early for Christmas!

  4. Lynnette says:

    Lots of great ideas, Mary! However, for us, Christmas gets easier every year. When the grandkids were little it was a lot of fun Christmas shopping for them (but a LOT of work too!). Now that they are all either adults, teenagers, or almost teens, what they really want is cash. So Walmart gift cards it is! (It doesn’t hurt that my husband gets an employee discount!). Even my 90-year old mother says gift cards are what she enjoys the most. We can finish our shopping in the amount of time it takes the cashier to load the cards. Works for us!

  5. Sarah says:

    Thank you for these ideas and reminders, Mary! I especially love the idea of sharing a basket of my favorite things!

  6. Patricia Weiser says:

    Airplanes may be clean and safer than before, but Americans aren’t allowed in any countries worth visiting right now. Imagine spending two weeks in quarantine in a hotel so you can then, have your vacation!

    • Sue says:

      Most people are skipping international travel this year. Like you said with quarantine and/or travel bans, why bother. Domestic travel, whether it be a short road trip, as in your own home state or somewhere close by, long road trip to wherever, or a flight somewhere domestically is the way to go for those that love to travel! I’m tentatively planning a flight to Alaska in Sept. as I couldn’t pass up the fantastic flight deal but If I am forced to cancel or postpone, I’ll take a road trip to northern MN! My favorite getaway destination!


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