My grandparents have had a large garden for decades. This is the time of year when their kitchen is filled with all kinds of vegetables that will soon be frozen, canned, sauced, juiced, or otherwise preserved for the long, cold months to come.
Preparing for winter isn’t only for people who have gardens, though. Now is the perfect time to start thinking ahead about all kinds of needs that you and your family will have over the next six months or so.
First, Start Making the Lists
Clothing. Is there anything you currently own that no longer fits and should be donated to charity? What would work perfectly well if you replaced a missing button or sewed up a torn seam ? What will you need definitely to replace before the season changes?
Transportation. If you own a car, does it need snow tires or routine maintenance? How long are you planning to ride your bike before switching to public transit when the snow piles up? Will your winter boots last another season?
Gifts. Who are you planning to buy holiday gifts? Does this list need to be culled or expanded this year? What is your budget for all of these gifts?
Now jot down a few quick gift ideas for anyone who is easy to buy for. If you’re planning to make or buy anything that isn’t easy to find, think about how much time you need to spend on it as well.
Health. Do any of your vaccinations need to be updated? It’s good to find out early when and where to get any boosters you might need. The health department in Toronto starts giving out free flu shots in the autumn, for example, but the lines can be very long for people who put it off.
Go through your cabinets and look at the expiration dates for all of the medications and vitamins you find there as well. Make a note of any medications that are running low or expiring soon. Cold and flu season is around the corner. It’s nice to already have at least some of the remedies you’ll need to get through the day when you wake up feeling terrible in a few months.
Projects and Distractions. Longterm readers know how restless I get at the end of every winter. One of the ways I’m planning to combat cabin fever this year is to have a list of movies to watch, recipes to try, and other fun ideas to perk me up at the end of February when I feel like spring is never going to arrive.
Your list is probably going to look quite different from mine, but now is a wonderful time to start writing it if there are things you want to accomplish over the winter or if you get a little blue by the end of it.
Put It All Together
The nice thing about having all of these lists compiled is that you don’t have to run around and check off every entry on them right away. Most of the major gift-giving holidays are still several months away, and the season won’t start changing for at least another month as well.
I keep a short list of what I’ll need on my cellphone and start paying attention to sales well before I actually need to pick up that item. Shopping isn’t something I find relaxing or entertaining, so I try to do it in small bursts. I enjoy shopping a lot more if I can pick up one item on sale and then ignore the rest of my list until the next time I notice a good deal or feel like browsing a different store for 10 minutes.
There have been times when I came up with creative gift ideas simply by giving myself plenty of time to think about what that person would actually enjoy and happening to run across something that would suit them well. While some people seem to enjoy last-minute shopping, I think there’s something to be said for taking your time and not buying for a dozen different loved ones at once. It also makes for a better shopping experience because December is such a hectic month in the retail world. I’d much rather avoid all of that frenzied energy and return to my list in January when things calm down.
The other nice thing about this tactic is that it gives you a lot of time to think about whether you actually need item X. For example, I’ve been mulling over the idea of buying walking sandals for several years. There are always a few hot days every summer when I wish I had a pair, but so far I haven’t wanted them enough to justify spending the money on something I’d only use a handful of times a year. (On the flip side, I am very grateful for my prescription sunglasses every time I put them on and get a break from the glare of the sun. They’re worth every penny, and then some!)
I hope this post has inspired you to start thinking about the shifting seasons to come. I’d love to know what your plan is for the winter. When do you start planning ahead for it?