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The holidays can be an incredibly busy time. From Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s there is always something to do. Here are 10 things you can do now so you can slow down and enjoy the holidays.
As soon as the days begin to get shorter and the temperatures cooler, I start looking forward to the holidays. Thanksgiving is all about family and food. Then comes Christmas where we focus on family traditions and time together. In our home, we also have 4 birthdays in the 6 weeks from just before Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. Without a plan, my life would go a little haywire.
Here are 10 things you can start doing now to take some of the hustle out of the holiday season.
1. Stock Your Pantry & Freezer
Holidays mean lots of baking & cooking. Instead of waiting until November and December to purchase special cuts of meat or your ingredients for holiday favorites, do it now! Take inventory of what you have, and then check prices to get the best deals. Don’t forget to check the liquor stores and specialty markets for items to make your holidays special.
2. Purchase Gift Wrap
I know most of us have wrapping paper leftover from one year to the next, but if you need to replenish the stash, don’t wait! Stores started putting out holiday gift wraps, ribbons, and bows as early as Labor Day. Some stores are even putting those items on sale and offering coupons now to guarantee they move their inventory. Take advantage of the early-season deals so you aren’t rushing around later. Don’t forget to buy tape while you’re out shopping. In fact, purchase more than you think you will need.
3. Start a Gift Stash
I like to use a large plastic tote and stash gifts in it as I find them throughout the year. That means if I find a t-shirt my son just has to have, I buy it and stash it. Then, when his birthday or Christmas comes around I have a gift already on hand. Make a list of the people you plan to purchase a gift for, and start picking up items as your budget allows and tuck them away for the holidays. This is also when you start all of your DIY Christmas gifts, and then put them aside so you aren’t working on projects on Christmas Eve.
4. Set Your Holiday Calendar
Take this time to also put seasonal obligations on your calendar so you don’t double book. Mark off the days you are off from work, or when school is closed. Then, add in any events that are already on your schedule. Now you know what you have to work with when extending invitations to family & friends.
5. Invite Others to Celebrate the Holidays with You
It may sound simple, and you may feel silly talking holidays when it’s not yet October, but now is the time to get your plans in order for November through January. Let people know if plans need to change, but send the text or email now and invite people over for a meal or snacks, or agree to meet up for coffee sometime during the holiday season, and get those dates on your calendar so you both have something to look forward to.
6. Spring Clean Your Home
Ok, so technically it’s fall, but you know what I mean. When we say spring clean, that gives you an idea of the to-do list of things to do around your home to get it ready for guests and the hustle and bustle of the holidays. More importantly, taking the time to conquer larger projects now means less stress and rushing around closer to the holidays.
7. Change Out Your Holiday Decor
Don’t redecorate your entire home, but if you have seasonal decorations now is the time to transition to them. I like to decorate for fall around October 1st, and I make a note on my calendar to decorate for Christmas on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Then, I find my tablecloths, candles, wreaths, and any other items that have been stored since last year, freshen them up, and make the switch from one season to the next.
8. Make a List
Take 20 minutes and do a complete brain dump of everything you need to get done between now and New Year’s.
I know that feels overwhelming, but once you get it all out in the open, you can make a long list and a plan for tackling it. I like to use Trello for electronic to-do lists, and create separate lists for “Before Thanksgiving” and “Before Christmas”. Then each evening, I make a shortlist of 3 items I can work on from my list to get those items checked off. If during the day I get through all three items, I go back and make another shortlist with three more items. That list of three items isn’t nearly as overwhelming as my huge list of everything I want to get accomplished.
9. Delegate & Ask for Help
You should not have to do it alone. This goes for everything in life. Just because you are a homemaker doesn’t mean that everything around the home is solely your responsibility. Delegate projects to your children and let your partner know what specific tasks you need them to work on. If you need to delegate projects or tasks to others outside your home, do it early so everyone has time to plan. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
10. Schedule Self-Care
Many of us, myself included, find the holidays to be stressful even though we love them. Nothing makes me happier than decorating, baking, and celebrating with my family. However, it can quickly become overwhelming if you are trying to do it all and accommodate everyone’s needs forgetting about your own. You have already filled out your calendar, now go back and pick a few days over the next few months and mark them with an X. Those days are to be completely unscheduled. Nothing for the kids. No errands. No company. No running all over trying to do everything. Take the time to just be. It’s also a good time to schedule actual self-care in the form of shopping alone, getting your hair cut, going to the chiropractor, or getting a massage (can you see what I need to do for myself based on that list).
What are you most looking forward to this holiday season and how do you like to prepare for the holidays?