In our culture of “jump to the next thing quickly,” before you can pack up your Thanksgiving leftovers we have already been thrown into the Christmas season! It’s here! If you are an organized planner, you are already living out your holiday plan. If you are a devout procrastinator that doesn’t shop until Christmas Eve, let this be your warning: GET AHEAD OF THE GAME THIS YEAR! If the toilet paper crisis of 2020 taught us anything, being prepared and planning ahead is always a good idea. So much goes into Christmas you don’t want to miss the holiday magic by letting the stress of the season distract you from why we gather, give, and celebrate. So, how does one even begin to plan ahead, as to avoid stress? A checklist for all that needs to happen this coming month will be a great place to start. Have an aversion to checklists? If you want this Christmas season to run smoothly so you can actually enjoy it, I say bring on the list, it will all be worth it in the end!
Your calendar is ALWAYS the first place to get you properly organized. Make a note and block out time for all family get togethers, parties, school or sports functions, office parties, church events and neighborhood socials. If the event you are placing on your calendar requires you to bring gifts or food, notate that as well. As you add these special holiday events to your calendar also be sure to include the address of the event, that way if a family member needs to meet you there the address is already right there and easy to send to whoever needs to know. Nothing is more embarrassing than sending someone to the wrong place on the wrong date. Trust me.
If you love Christmas, (like you live all year for this), you probably have some decorations up in your home already. You may have your ENTIRE home decorated by this point (I know I do). What are some key things you need to prepare for and remember before you “deck your halls?” Do you think you might be interested in mailing out Christmas cards this year? If so, when do you start?
- If you know you will be sending Christmas cards, create a document on your computer or laptop before the holidays. When you are ready to send cards it can be a easy as printing out the addresses on labels
- Go through your decorations before you are ready to put them out. Check and make sure your Christmas lights still work, see if anything has been broken or damaged in storage, that way you have some time to replace necessary items before you want to decorate.
- If you have an artificial Christmas tree, put it up as early or as late as you prefer. If you choose your own real tree every year, make sure you don’t buy it too soon or it won’t live through Christmas Day!
- Set aside several nights a week during December for fun family activities: baking and decorating Christmas cookies, making holiday themed crafts and decorations, put together a Christmas puzzle, and gathering to watch a Christmas movie every week will create wonderful memories and put fun and excitement into the build-up to Christmas Day.
I love to buy gifts for my loved ones at the holidays. I truly have the most fun searching out just the perfect gift for the special ones in my life. Now, how MANY gifts are you buying this year? And what is your budget? Some important things to remember before you start your own personal Santa shopping are:
- Start shopping for wrapping paper and cards as early as the stores put them out. Who says you can’t have some gifts wrapped before Thanksgiving?
- Make a gift list with everyone’s name and gift suggestions (if you haven’t already). Once gifts are bought for each person, check off the gift is bought or add WHAT you bought that person. Being organized makes gift wrapping time more enjoyable and less like an anxiety attack.
- By each name on your gift list, put an estimated budget. As you buy gifts and mark them down you will have a better idea of how much you have spent towards, or exceeded that budget. If you are a grandparent, totally ignore this tip, as I’m sure you already have.
- Try to wrap gifts as you buy them so you aren’t facing a ton of gifts to wrap all at once. If you are a procrastinator (like me) you are currently ignoring this tip.
- If you need to ship gifts to family and friends that live out of town it is recommended that you get them out by December 10th to ensure their delivery by Christmas.
- As you wrap and organize the gifts you have purchased, check and see which ones might need batteries and be sure to include those when you are wrapping.
- It’s always a good idea to have “extra” gifts ready for unexpected guests that may drop by, or a family member may bring a guest with them and you don’t want them to feel left out at gift exchange time.
Do you host your family Christmas meal or do you have your signature side dishes that you are known for bringing? Thought about baking some delicious treats as gifts this year? How can you plan ahead and still be right on time for all your holiday eats?
- If you are planning on doing a lot of baking, start early, like now, and freeze some baked goods. Icing and toppings can be added after you have thawed your items.
- You may decide to order a turkey (or ham) from a reputable company for your holiday meal this year. If so, put in your order as early as they will let you so you will be assured to get one.
- Contact your family members/guests that will be coming to your gathering and decide your menu ahead of time so everyone has time to shop and prepare what they want to bring, without worry of stores being out of items at the last minute.
- The week of Christmas, purchase the perishable goods you need for your meal (fruits, fresh vegetables, meats).
- If you are hosting the family or friend party this year, start cleaning your house 3 weeks out, little by little every week, so you aren’t completely overwhelmed with cleaning on top of everything else that must be done by the day of your gathering.
- Set your table a few days before Christmas so you have less work to do on Christmas Day.
Christmas = Love
These are just a few ideas to get your brain thinking ahead to bring organization to your holiday experience. You want your loved ones to enjoy the Christmas experience, but they also want YOU to enjoy the day as well. I’ve never loved the EFFORT of being organized but I do love the benefits of being organized. Most of these tips have come at the expense of learning them the hard way. Stressful memories do make for some good laughs now and good lessons learned. No matter what food, gifts, cards, gatherings or parties you have or don’t have, make sure to make the most of the ones you have to love and be loved by. Christmas came as a gift of love to the world. Don’t lose sight of why we love, give, and celebrate the greatest gift of love to humanity.
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