PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

Plan ahead for the upcoming holidays. If you’re organized, you’ll avoid overspending. Don’t wait until the last minute. There are plenty of ways you can prepare so you’re not completely stressed out later. Previously, I mentioned putting together a frugal notebook (www.frugalvillage.com/2009/05/22/create-a-frugal-notebook). One section to include in your binder is a holiday planner.

How do you plan ahead for the holidays?

Here are some planning suggestions.

RECIPES: Gather holiday recipes. You have time to try them now so there aren’t any surprises. Buy baking and cooking items each week, such as chocolate chips, cookie decorations or herbs and spices, parchment paper, storage bags or aluminum foil, so it’s not a large expense all at once.

GIFT LIST: Start a master gift list so you know for whom you need to buy or make gifts. Take inventory of your gift closet to see what you already have.

CARDS AND LETTERS: Start organizing photos and keep track of family highlights from the past few months so you can easily write a holiday newsletter to friends and family. You can type this up and publish it on a blog, e-mail it, or print and mail it.

SALES: Check multiple sources such as garage sales and thrift stores for tins, baskets or jars that can be gift containers. Shop clearance sales, too. August and September are good months to find canning jars, summer toys, clothing, grilling accessories, cookware, camping gear, garden supplies and tools.

HOMEMADE AND HANDMADE: Root cuttings now for plant gifts. Organize craft ideas and supplies you need. Finish any incomplete projects, too. For some cute homemade gift ideas to use your clearance or secondhand canning jars, visit www.freshpreserving.com/pages/crafts/217.php.

DECLUTTER: With guests visiting and gifts and decorations coming into your home, you’ll want to purge items you no longer need. Work room to room and you’ll be well organized.

SAVE: Set aside money each week to make holiday spending less painful.

FITNESS: Start healthier habits now, so you’re in great shape for the holidays.

E-mail Sara Noel at sara@frugalvillage.com.