Some of you might think that it is a bit late in the day to start talking about getting organized for Christmas – it is after all already December and the panic has set in! However, a lot of the stress we experience around the holiday season is self-inflicted. We can so desperately want everyone to have the ‘perfect holiday season’ that sometimes we lose sight of what is really important to us and our family.
Taking some time to establish your priorities will help you to use the weeks of December more effectively, so you can really relax and enjoy the holiday. Here is my Christmas Countdown, with some suggestions of how to make your holiday tasks less hassle:
1 - Decorate your house. Try picking one or two rooms and maybe your front door to decorate rather than the whole house – looks just as nice and saves you lots of time; not only with the putting out but with the taking down. Outside lights look beautiful, but sometimes less is more (and then you can breathe when you open your January electric bill).
2 – Put up your tree. If you use a real tree make choosing it a fun family activity rather than a chore. Artificial trees can be a huge time saver, but wait until January when they are on sale to invest in one.
3 – Stock up on wrapping supplies (paper, tape, make sure you know where your scissors are). Buying re-useable gift bags from the dollar store can save you money in the long run.
4 – Plan events and activities with friends and family ahead of time. Put all your school and community events, family get-togethers and work parties on one calendar, so you don’t end up overcommitted. If you need to book a babysitter, today is the day to give them a call. If your holiday period is looking like it is going to be spent in the car, try suggesting to far-flung relatives that you push back a visit until early in the New Year instead.
5 – Minimise your Christmas card list and then put stamps on your weekly grocery list so you don’t end up making a special trip for them at the last minute. Put your address book and card box next to the couch and when you finally sit down to watch a bit of TV in the evening write a few at a time. Make sure you know the last post date.
6 – Create a simple food plan for over the holiday period and buy the extra food you need over the next three weeks rather than in one big rush. Stock up on frozen or non-perishable foods for catering for unexpected visitors and double check on any food restrictions/dietary requirements for guests. Cook ahead what you can and freeze.
7 – Check out your families closets – does anyone need particular clothing for special events or school? Do you need to buy teacher gifts? Make one planned early morning trip to the shops for what you need, rather than several late night rushes to Walmart for a red sweater or box of chocolates.
8 – Ordering gifts online can save a lot of time, but picking them up separately doesn’t. Canada Post FlexDelivery allows you to collect your packages at one time from your local post office, saving you time and keeping gifts from prying eyes.
9 - Have a look through your kid’s clothes and toys and find items that no longer fit or they no longer need or use. Charities appreciate receiving donations prior to Christmas and you’ll appreciate your kids having somewhere to put their new presents and clothes.
10 – It is hard not to think your whole house needs de-cluttering prior to Christmas and end up feeling overwhelmed. Focus on the main areas that visitors will see and that give you the biggest payback for your time – entryways, the family room and the kitchen are good places to start. Remember to sort out clean linens and towels for the guest room. Then throw away the guilt of your junk drawers and save the big house sort out for January.
Wishing you a happy (and organized) Christmas!