During these lazy days of summer I can imagine that Christmas is the farther thing from your mind! And why not? With thoughts of vacation, finding ways to keep cool and big family get-togethers filling these summer days, the sounds of jingle bells and carolers out in the snow are like ancient history.

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I want to break this to you gently, but Christmas decor will be appearing in a store near you in only a matter of weeks—if you haven’t seen hints of that already. Devoting only a few minutes each day to getting started early with your Christmas plans will come back to bless you in money saved. And you’ll have beaten a lot of stress, too, come December.

Here are some quick and easy ways to get started now!

CRASH SAVE. Once each week put $10—or an amount you find appropriate—into an envelope for a service person you will remember with a tip during the holidays. Label and seal. Then make a note in your calendar so you don’t forget where you put it.

GROUP CRAFTING. Spend an evening with three or four friends making holiday decorations. Each brings an idea plus all the materials and supplies. By the end of a very fun evening everyone goes home with three or four new items.

COLLECT. This summer as you are traveling and camping, collect pine cones, sea shells, even dried plant materials and other such items. Now you have the stuff you need to make wonderful tree ornaments and other crafty items.

STOCKINGS. Don’t sew? No problem. You can still “make” great Christmas stockings. Buy large, wooly socks (find them on sale now at camping and outdoors stores). Roll up one sock and tuck it into the toe of the other and fill up the “stocking” with little gifts. Turn the top down to form a cuff. Decorate with glue-on letters, embroidery or leave it plain.

CREATIVE WRITING. This year, determine to send out a Family Christmas letter. Throughout the year, record events and happenings in a small notebook that you keep handy and know will be appropriate for the special letter. Come December, it will be simple to write because you have all the material you need without racking your brain. Friends and relatives will be thrilled to receive such a great gift.

FAMILY COOKBOOK. One year a friend got the best gift. Her mother is an excellent cook and often cooks without a recipe. Her sister spent hours with Mom in the kitchen and painstakingly recorded the exact ingredients and measurements of the family’s favorite dishes. She  then developed them into a recipe book and gave it to her sister, my friend, for Christmas. Over the years it has become even more special—not only because her sister made it for her, but because the recipes are now recorded for both of them to pass on and to always remember their mother.

MEMORY QUILTS. If you and your kids have saved every T-shirt from every school event they ever participated in, cut out the pattern and or words from each shirt and make Memory Quilts. Use the recipients’ favorite colors for the border and coordinating fabric for the backing. It won’t be too expensive, but time consuming.

Question: How do you feel about getting started early with your Christmas planning? Some of us dig it big time, while others find even the thought of doing that somewhat disturbing! Go ahead, spill the beans in the comments below.

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