I remember when I was growing up during the 1950’s and 1960’s, how our family, especially my mother, always looked forward to winter holidays. My family wasn’t very religious, but liked celebrating the food and customs of the holidays. There was always so much to do; but my mother succeeded, stress free, in organizing the food and gift shopping, cooking, cleaning, and de-cluttering (I helped with the cleaning, and my father wrapped the gifts) and getting it all done in a timely manner. Everyone marveled at her organization skills.
Are you as organized as my mother was? Or, do you find that the November, December and January holidays sneak up too quickly, and you become frantic because of all the pre-holiday ‘to-do’s’ you have to accomplish?
Why not give yourself a head start, and begin these many ‘to-do’s’ well ahead of time.
Below are priorities for you to focus on during your preparations:
Make a list: To make things easier for yourself, write a list of all the pre-holiday ‘to-do’s’ so you won’t have to remember everything ‘off the top of your head’. Make a separate list of the people you will be giving gifts to, and what you’d like to buy them. Also, review and update the list of people you’ll be sending holiday cards to.
Use a calendar: Whether you use a paper or electronic calendar, you can schedule when you’d like to accomplish the things on your list, including your holiday activities, and personal time. If you don’t pre-schedule time to yourself during this entire process, you can’t add it in. Do this so you can have some down time to relax and enjoy the holiday season.
Plan your budget: Do this realistically and be sure to stick to it. In the budget, include the cost of gifts, new holiday clothing, decorations, meals, special events and traveling. Plus, anything else that’s important to your own personal holiday purchasing needs.
Divide large projects into smaller tasks: Some of your ‘to-do’s’ may be quite complicated and detailed. Breaking them down into tasks will make them more manageable.
Clear the clutter: If you know you are having company for the holidays, or just for your own peace of mind, take a look around your home and notice if there is any clutter. If clearing this clutter seems like a large project, break it down into smaller tasks by setting aside several times to sort your things, letting unnecessary items go, and putting misplaced things where they belong.
Ask for help: You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Choose the tasks that bring you joy, and that you prefer doing. Perhaps it’s buying gifts and holiday cards, or decorating the house and holiday table. Delegate the other things to housemates or family, such as food shopping, cooking, decluttering and cleaning, or picking up the meal items you’ve ordered for take-out to save food prep time.
Say no: If you realize you’ve overbooked yourself with too many work parties, family gatherings, shopping outings, or more, it’s ok to pull in the reins and let go of some of these. Review your priorities and stick to them.
Shop early: Don’t wait until the last minute when stores will be jam packed with shoppers. Start gift shopping early to avoid the rush, and to prevent any last minute stress. Wear comfortable clothing, shop at off-peak times, or shop on-line. Look for coupons, good deals and sales.
Gift wrapping: If you have saved scraps of wrapping paper and tangled ribbons from last year, recycle the scraps and toss the ribbons. So, you’re not left with a closet full of gifts to wrap at the last minute, set aside a few gift wrapping times on your calendar well before the holidays. Save money, and purchase lower priced wrapping materials after the holidays have ended.
Holiday Decorations: Check to see if any of your existing holiday decorations need to be repaired or thrown out. Do this before, and after using them to also determine if you need to buy new or additional decorations. These items also go on sale after the holidays. Store your decorations in preferably, plastic containers with tight lids in a cool dry place designated just for the holidays.
Are you ready to enjoy the holidays in a relaxed and cheerful manner? Follow these tips, and you are well on your way to a stress-free holiday.
If you live in the Boston area, and would like a FREE 1/2 hour telephone consultation to discuss your clutter issues, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org