The Return Of The Holiday Calendar Trade

First and foremost – I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday! I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to spending time away from my computer. The markets are closed on 12/26/22, so I’ll be back with a new article for you on Tuesday.

The last couple of days in the market was a complete roller coaster. The market gapped up two days ago, and then completely fell apart yesterday, only to climb out of the hole and keep a two-day net gain. It was a mess. The SPY (ETF of the S&P 500) is now in a new, tight trading range between the long-term support/resistance line at $387 and a Fibonacci support line at $378. Even though the market dipped below $378 intraday, it rallied toward the end of the day to close above the crucial level.

Options strategy

So why is the market going crazy? I think it has more to do with light volume than anything else. I think you’ll see new trends form when the pro traders come back from their holiday break and after the hedge funds and banks restructure their books at the start of the year.

In terms of news, FedEx (FDX) and Nike (NKE) beat earnings, and the market jumped. Then yesterday Micron (MU) reported lower-than-expected adjusted revenue while forecasting Q2 would be below the consensus estimate. You also had CarMax (KMX) report lower-than-expected earnings, making investors fearful of the used car market and the automotive industry overall.

So in two days, we’ve had reports of two companies beating earnings and then two companies falling short of expectations. That means this earnings season should be a fun one to trade.

I’m still of the mindset to keep your trades small and build up that cash stockpile so that you’re ready to go when things settle.

Since we have a holiday coming up, the trade of the day is the return of the Holiday Calendar.

I went through this right before Thanksgiving and I’ll go through it again. This is a trade that I like to place right before a market holiday. I usually look to place this trade in the afternoon of the market day prior to the holiday – sometime around 2 pm EST.

The ticker we will use is SPX. That’s the S&P 500 index. You can try using the ticker, SPY if you have a smaller account, but SPX will give you more premium for the same commission. The trade-off is SPX requires more capital to place the trade.

We’re going to place a calendar spread options strategy. What is that? It’s simply selling a call (or put) at the same strike you buy a call (or put), but the two options have different expiration dates. Both the sold option and the bought option need to be the same – either a call or a put.

Now, I’m looking at the prices pre-market and they will definitely change by the afternoon, so I’ll give examples based on what I see now, but you’d look at the current price of the SPX and modify the trade to use the strike price that is closest to the SPX current price.

I want to sell a put option one week away from today and I will buy a put option two weeks away from today. The strike price for both options will be the closest to the current trading price. Again, since I’m looking at this pre-market, I’ll use the $3820 strike price because SPX closed yesterday at $3822.

Sell to open 30 DEC (22) $3820 put
Buy to open 6 JAN (23) $3820 put
Net Debit: 17.55 (or $1755 per calendar)

The risk profile looks like the chart below.


options strategy

Now, let’s go through everything.  The max profit is achieved if SPX closes at $3820 on 12/20/22 and would be worth $2080 in profit (green).  However, as long as SPX closes between $3766 and $3875 at expiration, the trade would be profitable (green numbers).   The expected move from now to 12/30/22 is +/- $88 (white).  If SPX trades at or more than the expected move in either direction, the trade would lose $425 (red numbers).  


I don’t want to hold until expiration though, so here’s how I like to trade these.  If the max profit is $2080, I want to try to get 15-25% of that peak, so I would look to close this trade when I’ve hit profits of somewhere between $312 and $520.  In these erratic market conditions, I’m lowering my targets though.  More on that in a second.

I would also set a mental stop loss (or an alert with your broker) if SPX trades lower than $3766 or higher than $3875.  If SPX trades to either of those levels, you’d lose about $180.  


This trade then becomes a risk 1 to make 1 trade.  I’m risking $180 to make $180.  But wait, why is the profit target $180 when I said earlier that 15% of $2080 is $312?  That’s purely a suggestion to get out sooner because we’ve had these intraday swings in the market and again, I’m lowering my profit targets so that I can close out of trades faster and keep my money away from the swings.

Your absolute line in the sand to exit the trade is if SPX trades to the expected move.  At that point, you’d lose $425.  I don’t recommend that because you’re taking more risk for less reward, but some are ok with that.


Remember, I mentioned that the price of SPX will move by the time you see this and pull up your trading platform.  Adjust the trade by buying and selling the at-the-money option using the expiration dates I mentioned above.  Look at your risk graph and determine your break-even lines and those are your stop levels.  Then look at the peak of your risk graph and determine what you are comfortable trying to get for a profit target. 

Depending on where the market opens when we get back next Tuesday, you can also exit Tuesday and the trade may have some profit from time decay alone.  Otherwise, you may be in this trade for a couple of days next week.  Keep an eye on the trade – SPX can move quickly within any given trading day.


Happy Holidays!!  See you next week!


If you have any questions, comments, or anything we can help with, reach us at any time.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (866) 257-3008

Jeff Wood

Editor, Filthy Rich Dirt Poor
Coach, Options Testing Lab

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