I used to hate how early Christmas marketing started. "Save the holiday cheer for after Thanksgiving!" was my motto. I pressed delete when I started getting emails about Christmas shopping before Halloween. I turned my nose up when the ornament and tree displays went up at every department store in early November. I rolled my eyes when my Starbucks latte came in a holiday cup on a day when temperatures hit the mid 60s . . . in Chicago.
And then I had kids, and my attitude totally changed. The truth is, I've found that planning and executing a magical Christmas for my kids takes at least two months, maybe more, and the thought of not booking a single activity or buying a gift before Black Friday (my old philosophy) now gives me enough anxiety to fill Santa's sleigh.
This year, I bought my first present in September, a month after we booked our flights for our annual holiday family vacation in Florida (prices were insane; we waited way too long). We're skipping our usual day at Disney this year, but last year I made our Magic Kingdom dining reservations in June, exactly six months before our trip, and I still didn't get into freaking Be Our Guest (note to Disney: would it kill you to add alcohol to a couple more Magic Kingdom restaurants?!).
I ordered my family's Christmas cards in mid-October, around the same time I started picking up stocking stuffers, throwing some extra stickers or a small toy into my cart every time I have the pleasure of visiting a Target without my children in tow. My daughter was with me on my last trip and circled over $2,000 worth of stuff she wanted in the Target holiday toy catalog, which they started passing out before Halloween. Yes, she started writing her Christmas list to Santa before she ever went trick-or-treating. And that's good with me.
Here's why. December is already a sh*t show from start to finish when you have kids. There's the Christmas cards, the Elf on the Shelf, the decorating of the house, the wrapping of presents, and the trimming of the tree (then the daily re-trimming when your 2-year-old decides to remove all the ornaments he can reach). Then come the holiday parties with friends and at school, all of which require shopping, baking, cooking, sitter organizing, and usually, your actual attendance.
If, like me, your family travels for the holidays, throw in packing for four people, renting cribs, and shipping presents, diapers, and sunscreen so everything is ready and waiting when you arrive. After all of that, there's barely time for a round of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and a glass of eggnog before you're ringing in the New Year.
So, yes, let's please start Christmas as early as possible. Bring out the red and green coffee cups, the over-hyped toys, the wrapping paper and bows. I need all the time I can get. I love spreading out the work (merry work, indeed, but work nonetheless) and excess spending over two months instead of packing it into just a few weeks. In fact, does anyone know where I can get a Christmas tree in early November? My lights are untangled and ready to go.