Christmas time is getting close and the North Pole has shifted into high gear. The elves are pushing out toys at full steam, the reindeer are working out in the reindeer gym to get ready for the trip, and the North Pole Post Office is stuffed with each child's Santa letter that needs to be sent out. The children can't go without the letters from Santa. The North Pole is in a state of complete pandemonium. You household could be in that same shape if you don't plan ahead a bit to avoid the Christmas rush.
Prior Proper Planning Prevent Poor Performance. That is very true. Christmas never "sneaks up" on anybody. It's the same day every year so just plan for it and you will avoid those headaches you get from waiting till the last minute. Christmas cards and letters are an obvious place to start. By the end of October you already know who you will be sending cards to. Of course it is too early to send them but not too early to address them and even sign them. Many families include a little form letter giving an update on what the family has been up to. Those can be added when you mail them to make sure they are up to date, but the family pictures can be ordered and ready to go in with the letter.
Gifts are a little like the cards in that you should get as much done early as you can. Now the after Christmas sales are too early to do much Christmas shopping for the next year, but sometimes you can get a lot of stocking stuffers that you know you'll use. Go ahead and get those candy canes, they'll be fine in a year and they are 80% off. Little things that find their way into stockings are good too. Your next shopping time would be at the end of winter. You really can't by clothes for the kids (you'll never know how big they'll get) but you can get winter socks, scarves and such for the kids and winter classics for adults.
Now you have the rest of the year to pick up things as you go. When someone says "I'd love one of those for Christmas" go ahead and pick one up before you forget about it later. And things go on sale all year so pick things up if you were going to use it as a gift in a few months anyway. Then there is the internet which is like the world's largest mall. Order early though because you will want to have all the ones you already have wrapped by Thanksgiving. Wrapping is not too bad when you do a little at time.
Last is your baking and candies. Instead of doing it a little at a time, try to do it all at once. That alone will save you time from cleaning the kitchen several times. It also lets you make extras to give all the folk that you really don't buy presents for but still want to give them a little some in the spirit of the holiday season.
Planning ahead and trying to do as much as you can as you can early will help cut down on the holiday stress. Don't worry about missing all the festive holiday crowds, the last minute shopping will give you your fill without driving you to sleepless night and worry lines.