The holiday season is upon us and it’s time for us “Christmas Crazies” to begin our most favorite time of year. There are those that are one Hallmark Christmas Movie away from losing their grip on reality, and there are others who find the holidays fully nauseating. Whichever category you fall into, or if you find yourself somewhere in the middle, the holidays are quickly approaching and it’s better to be prepared than to find yourself stressed and in a panic in the eleventh hour. Decorating, shopping, wrapping gifts, cooking and baking, where does one even start to prepare? Let’s break it down into 10 easy ways to organize yourself before the holidays come, giving you a plan and a way to enjoy the time you will have with loved ones,
TOP TEN HOLIDAY PREPARATION IDEAS
- In summer or early fall, clear your calendar and clear your house of clutter. Mark down the dates that you and your family/friends usually celebrate Christmas and Thanksgiving. If you host one or both, or travel for one or both, mark down the travel times on your calendar and set aside some time to pack and get ready for both holidays. Clear your closets, rooms and garage of stuff you no longer use or need. This will allow you to have more room to stash gifts you are giving (or getting). And if you have kids, encourage them to clean out the toys they don’t play with to make room for whatever new gifts will be coming their way. And be sure to schedule some “down time” after the holidays to allow you time to rest and recover.
- Come up with a holiday budget. Estimate how much you can/want to spend on gifts for each person, how much you want to spend on decorations, and how much you want to spend on food for your holiday gatherings. It’s so easy to fall into a “buying frenzy,” having a budget prepared and ready will help you not overspend and send yourself into crazy holiday debt.
- SHOP EARLY AND WRAP EARLY!! These two cannot be stressed enough. The longer you wait to buy gifts, the more likely things are going to be sold out and send you spiralling into stress. Whether you shop online, in person, or a mix of both, get what you can as EARLY as you can! And as your gifts begin to come in, start wrapping them IMMEDIATELY! Order wrapping paper with the first gift you order or purchase.
- In planning your holiday menu, let every family member weigh in on their favorite dish/thing they love to eat at holiday meal time. Go a step further and teach them how to prepare it so next year they can help with the cooking and preparation.
- If you are a faithful sender of Christmas cards, take the time to type in all your addresses into your computer/laptop and you can transfer them to labels and print them out in no time at all. This will also help with invitations or thank you notes you need to send for future events.
- Create a “Christmas Family Fun List" for you and your family/loved ones. Come up with a list of fun things you want to do together, places you want to visit, movies you want to watch, special crafts/traditions to do together. Make it a weekly, several times of the week, or even nightly plan to come together and have fun, intentional time together. From decorating the tree to making Christmas cookies, driving around to look at lights to watching your favorite Christmas movies, make family time your top priority as the season approaches.
- Take advantage of holiday deals from your favorite stores. If there is a “buy two, get one free” or 5 for $25, don’t pass up the deal. The extra can be used for teacher gifts, friend gifts, stocking stuffers, party favors or to be wrapped and left in your car to pass along to a stranger. Nothing is better than passing along some "Christmas Magic" to someone who is not expecting it!
- As part of your “family time,” encourage your kids to make homemade gifts for family members and friends. Nothing is sweeter or more heartwarming than receiving a gift that someone made just for you.
- Take advantage of “after Christmas sales.” Whether it be decorations, gifts, wrapping paper or Christmas themed clothes or toys, get a jump on next year with unbelievable deals.
- Start in January by setting aside a little money every month to create a good “Christmas Money Fund.” Whether you choose to use it on gifts, decorations, or a fun Christmas vacation, money set aside will help with the extra expense of the holidays.
The Most Important Thing
As we gather around tables and trees, as gifts are opened and the smell of delicious meals fill our homes, let us not forget the most important thing this holiday season. Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or some other special occasion, we celebrate not the material gifts under the tree, but those that gather with us. Family and friends, these loved ones are our gifts. Christmas is about love, celebrating the greatest gift, given to mankind. However, whatever, or wherever you celebrate this holiday season, don’t get wrapped up in the business of the holidays, be wrapped in love and gratefulness for the ones in your life. Love is the greatest gift of all.
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