Hints of Halloween are starting to nibble at the edges of grocery store displays and turkeys will trot into view before we can say “trick or treat.” After that, jingle bells will raise the Christmas alarm reminding us of all the holiday tasks we need to add to our to-do lists. This year will probably be all over the board as far as how much or how little people want to participate in the decorating, gift giving and parties. Last year I did little more than the minimum, but I’m feeling inspired this year to start planning and maybe you are too.

What is your vision for each of the upcoming holidays and what do you need to start doing to make it happen?

Will you or your kids need costumes for Halloween? Are you up to decorating the front porch this year? Do you want to bake any special treats or buy candy to give away? Do you feel like hosting a costume party or jack-o-lantern carving session? If you, like me, love celebrating Dia de los Muertos rather than Halloween, do you need to make a trip to Michael’s for altar building supplies or think about who you might make a little altar for this year?

Are you up to hosting Thanksgiving this year? How early do you need to have discussions with family and friends about the logistics of gathering or any travel, if necessary? Do you already have your tried-and-true recipes filed away or do you want to do something different this year and need to try some things out?

Christmas can involve many layers of tasks, so in a year when it is tough to plan parties and travel, you might prefer working on things you know for sure you can make happen. I didn’t send out cards last year and would really like to this year. That means planning and taking a photo or buying cards, getting stamps, making sure the address list is ready and putting a couple evenings on the calendar to actually write them out.

Giving gifts is another tradition that can’t be cancelled, although if you have to mail things rather than give them in person at a holiday gathering it does add another layer of work. Do you have a list of recipients and gift ideas ready? How’s your wrapping paper supply? Give your gift wrap a once over and make a list of anything you need. Get it early and avoid feeling rushed.

Do you want to get a holiday play list ready or borrow one from someone you follow on Spotify so that when the time comes you can put it on and let it help inspire you?

If you love to decorate and didn’t last year, pull down your decorations while the weather is dry and make sure they are in good repair and ready for service. It’s a perfect time to do a purge: donate or consign unwanted decorations sooner rather than later. Be sure to call and see what people are accepting. The window for holiday-related donations and consignment are pretty slim.

Give some advance thought to what would make the fall and winter holidays more creative and joyful for you and your family—do as little as you like, but this might be a year to push yourself a bit so that you remember how good it feels to participate in festivities and get into the spirit of the season. With each holiday you might feel more energized to do a little more for the next one and by December’s end you’ll be ready to ring in the New Year with a renewed feeling of hope and connection. Stay tuned for tips on organizing a holiday party, next column.