Life is constantly and consistently chaotic and stressful. Throw in the holiday season on top of everything else, and you are more than tempted to throw in the towel altogether. But wait, before you pack a bag and move to Mexico under an assumed name, let me let you in on a little secret that keeps some of my sanity intact during the holidays. The secret is in the act and organization of your list. List, like a grocery list? Somewhat like a grocery list but more involved with many subheadings. Unorganized people stay with me. The best way to keep on top of everything this Christmas is to organize each thing onto a list. Between the holiday activities, family gatherings, presents, and more presents, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Want to actually enjoy your holiday? Me too, and I accomplish that by a series of lists, kept in one place, organized by subject. Sounds simple, right? It is, and you will be amazed at the way you stay on top of things during this crazy time of year. Still not convinced? I’m about to walk you into some easy ways to un-Grinch yourself and have you jingle-jolly, full of holiday cheer, and on top of things by Christmas Day!
List #1: Dates And Times Of Holiday Activities
As glorious as the holidays are, they bring LOTS of activities. While these activities are fun and joyous, they can become overwhelming as they add up one after the other. Syncing your lists and your calendar with all your family members is essential. Christmas Checklist number one becomes essential to make sure that you and your crew get where you need to go, at the right time, with all the right stuff.
- Keep a running list of holiday activities by date (Christmas parties, school programs, office parties, Christmas recitals, church activities, family gatherings). Make sure you list the date, time, and location and share it with everyone in the family, so there are no mix-ups, no shows, or double-booking two things at one time. Notate on each activity if there is a dress code, ticket needed or if gifts and or food is to be taken to each event
- I use the notes app on my phone, easily shareable, and your phone is usually with you at all times.
- If you are “old school” and need your paper list, make copies and keep a copy everywhere and give a copy to everyone in need of your holiday schedule
- If you are traveling during the holidays, be sure to include dates and times of flights, hotel reservations, car rental info, address of your destination, along with items that may need to be packed, depending on your destination
- If you are away from home over the holidays, don’t forget to arrange to board your pets, have your mail stopped or picked up by a neighbor, neighbors on the look-out for packages and deliveries, and don’t forget to set your alarm and have someone close by keep watch on your home while you are away
- If you are the one hosting family and friends at your home, be sure your guests are aware of the date, time, and address of your gathering, along with any gifts or food you may want them to bring. When inviting your guests, remember to ask about food allergies. Christmas is not the time you need to be calling 911!
List #2: Presents, Presents, And More Presents!
Christmas is the season of giving and receiving gifts, which is lovely, but often requires A LOT of work, thought, and organization. Christmas shopping can be stressful, but a detailed list can help with the stress factor. Christmas Checklist number two helps you keep track of what you need, what you have, and when you need to have it ready. The Christmas tree always looks better with gifts underneath!
- A running list of names with gifts they want/need is essential to keep your gift-giving organized, or if you’re like me, to keep you on budget and not overspending
- By the name and gifts to get each person, also have a space on the list for the gifts you HAVE bought them. We learned that when buying for kids this time of year, it’s easy to forget who bought what, which can cause double purchases of the same thing.
- Another reason I love the notes app on my phone for lists, you can add a photo to the list. I’m constantly having my kids send me pictures of what they want. I can attach the photos right to the list by their name, and it helps from confusing AND frustrating me
- By each person’s name, gifts they want, and gifts bought, include what size they wear and what their interests are. Since more than one person can work off your lists that information will help those who want to help you with buying presents
- Since we all attend multiple gatherings during the holidays, a valuable item to add to each person on your list is when and where this gift will be given. This helps as you pack up the car for each gathering you attend, helping you know which gift needs to go where, (and it doesn’t hurt to have a few extra gifts in your trunk, you know, just in case).
- Most toys and games require batteries. As you shop for these items, take note of how many require batteries and buy them at the same time and wrap them along with the gift that they accompany
- All these presents you buy equal lots of receipts. Keep the receipts for your gifts in an envelope if the gifts need to be returned. Nothing is more frustrating than losing multiple receipts, especially when something needs to be exchanged
- Have a good supply of gift wrapping materials on hand at all times. Wrapping gifts as you get them is highly recommended. By doing this, you aren’t bombarded with wrapping everything at once. (Sounds nice, but I never get anything wrapped early. I’m just happy to have the gifts I need and have them wrapped by Christmas!)
- Don’t wait until Christmas Eve to do any of these things. Trust me, just don’t!
List #3, Holiday Food: What To Make And When
Another essential list you really can’t live without during the holiday season is a food list. Christmas dinner is an important meal, so are the dishes you take with you to parties and gatherings. Christmas Checklist number 3 can be broken down by:
- what food items you are carrying to which gathering
- grocery list of what you will need to make each item, or where the best place to purchase the food item will be
- If you are aware of anyone with food allergies that will be attending one of your gatherings, what you can use to substitute for the allergen
- Keep a running list of how many guests will be coming so you will know how many serving plates. Utensils and glasses you will need. If you are asking another person to bring serving items, keep them in the loop as well so you don’t run short
- If you are undertaking a lot of baking and cooking, start early and freeze it! It will relieve a lot of stress closer to your gatherings if some of your items are already made and waiting in the freezer
- If you are the holiday host or hostess, do yourself a huge favor and let people help you! With each invitation you give to your celebration, assign that guest something to bring. Sometimes the most remarkable thing about holiday food is the culmination of a variety of great things to choose from
Organization Brings Comfort
All these lists and helpful tips may seem overwhelming, but they are here to help. Christmas planning will help to lower your chances of feeling stressed. Lists don’t take that long to make, and they keep you organized, on task, having all the right gifts for the right people, getting you to the right place at the right time, with the right food in hand, ready to celebrate the holidays with those you love. Now THAT is worth the effort it takes to keep yourself and your family organized by lists. Stress and chaos can ruin your holiday joy, while organization and preparation can give you confidence that you really do have everything you need and have it exactly when you need it the most. Check those lists, check off your items, then sit back with a nice, warm cup of hot chocolate and enjoy the holidays with those you love!
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