Perform a search-and-rescue mission.
for presents bought spontaneously throughout the year and stashed heaven knows where.
Order pretty stamps.
at usps.comLoad up a shared digital calendar.
(like Google Calendar) for the month of mayhem. Include every party, cookie swap, caroling event, and winter concert. It might cut your job as CSE (Chief Schedule Enforcer) in half.Make your gift list.
If there’s research involved (“Is Alex still into Ninja Turtles, or has he moved on to Pokémon?”), send out e-mail inquiries. Don’t forget to jot down hostess gifts that you’ll need.Drop off holiday outfits.
at the dry cleaner, and replace what the kids have outgrown.Shop for nonperishable groceries and booze.
before the stores get crazy, and place orders for any in-demand specialty foods that will be in short supply later. (Harry & David ham, check!)Send holiday cards.
Even if you write them over Thanksgiving (good for you!), it’s more fun to receive cards in December, the heart of the season.Get your tree.
For tips on picking a healthy specimen, see 6 Tips for Live Christmas Trees.Wrap five presents.
They make the tree look better, get you in the spirit, and save precious minutes later in the month.Mail gifts to out-of-towners.
Send heavy items via flatrate U.S. Postal Service boxes ($6 for a small box, $17 for large; to anywhere in the country). If you’re extra challenged in this area, go the straight-from-Amazon route.Hand out tips.
Sure, you could wait. But wouldn’t you rather see that smile on the newspaper delivery guy’s face than avoid his gaze for two more weeks? Don’t forget the less obvious folks, like the car mechanic who saved your vacation the Friday before Independence Day.Deep-clean critical spots.
—living room, bathrooms, guest room—so the dirtiest deeds won’t loom when you have the least time.