"When the weather is warm, the sun is shining and kids are out of school, I think about … the winter holidays," writes Kelly Glass at the Affinity Express blog. Preparing your holiday strategy months in advance might seem like overkill to many small businesses. But it's an effective way to keep your edge in an increasingly competitive marketplace. And Glass has wide-ranging holiday-centric advice like this:

Make your list and check it twice. If you wait until November to decide which valued customers, vendors and colleagues will receive greetings, gifts and party invitations, you'll likely encounter backlogged printing services and already-booked venues. Further, if anything goes wrong—a typo, for instance—you might not have the time to fix it.

Share glad tidings of great joy. Do you have holiday-related hooks for your product or service? If so, develop a strong pitch for appropriate media outlets. "[M]ost reporters and editors want to cover positive, heart-warming stories at this time," she says.

Plan for customer service that is not naughty but nice. The winter holidays present something of a quandary for many companies: While often the busiest time of the year, it's also when employees want time to spend with their families. So dial in schedules and ensure frontline have staff have all the resources they need. "Marketing also needs to plan for regular activities," she notes, "so it is a good idea to schedule blog posts and any emails, prep direct mail campaigns and ensure social media monitoring in advance."

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