Welcome to November everyone! Now that we've turned the page on the calendar, may I be so bold as to point out that we are now less than 8 weeks out until Christmas?! Yikes! Didn't we just celebrate Halloween yesterday (or at least some of you did, a hurricane has gotten in our way here!), and now it's already time to start planning for Christmas?
Actually, yes. I think that the key to having a stress-free holiday is to spend some time planning ahead. Last year I made the decision that I wanted to spend my holidays intentionally– doing the things that are important to my family and eliminating the holidays “to-do's” that were not adding to any personal joy. So watching those adorable clay-mation Christmas shows is a “yes”, but making handmade Christmas cards is “out”! So if you are ready to start thinking about doing a little holiday pre-planning (and I hope you are!), here's a few things for you to think about:
1. Make plans to do things with your family that are important to you
This is the first thing I ponder when thinking about Christmas… is to make a list of all of those things that I want to do to enjoy the season with my family. At our house that includes watching all of those old-time holiday specials (Heat-Miser is a fav), picking out the tree together, reading “The Night Before Christmas” next to the tree by firelight while enjoying hot chocolate, making a gingerbread house, driving around to look at holiday lights, seeing the Nutcracker with my girls, and singing carols while tucking in the kids at bedtime. But if I don’t plan for it, it’s not going to happen. So I literally enter these things into my calendar on specific dates, to make sure that I really do them.
2. Budget, budget, budget
Before you even start thinking about holiday presents, you need to develop your top-line number… what is the amount that you can afford and want to spend? Set a budget for the holidays- gifts, decorations, meals, travel, and everything else- and then stick to it. It’s no holiday if you spend the first half of 2013 in a panic because you know you over-spent on Christmas.
3. Make your gift list, and check it twice!
Great sales days are ahead my friend… but you can only take advantage of them if you know whom you need to buy for, some ideas of what to purchase, and a budget for each item. Begin by looking over your gift list from last year, and start making some notes! (I do nearly all of my holiday shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, so having a list prepared is essential).
4. Start planning any homemade gifts now
These are a great way to stetch your holiday dollar… we have a rather large list of business associates, teachers, coaches, and other special people that we like to give a holiday gift to- but to spend $20-$25 for each of them would put our holiday budget into the stratosphere! Last year I made glass-etched plates and filled them with cookies and holiday treats for each of our recipients, and each gift cost me less than $4!
5. Holiday cards
Oh yeah, holiday cards take a lot of effort- to start with, there’s the cute outfits for the card picture (which thankfully can double as their holiday outfit). Then we need to plan an afternoon to take the holiday picture- and for goodness sakes- we need to make sure the camera is charged first! Then we need to come up with the list of card recipients. And we can’t forget to buy the stamps and print out the mailing labels ahead of time too.
6. Make an appointment in your calendar to wrap all of the gifts in one night
Make a “wrapping date” with your hubby. Plan to open a nice bottle of wine, get some fancy cheeses, and maybe a nice chocolate dessert, and then make a night of it. It will seem like less of a chore to tackle it as a team, and your husband will no longer be so surprised when the kids open their gifts from Santa on Christmas morning!
7. Start thinking about menus
You’ve got at least two big meals ahead of you- Thanksgiving and Christmas (unless someone else is doing the cooking!). Start thinking about what you’d like to serve, and start planning your menu. Gather your recipes together now so making the shopping list and planning the prep can easily be accomplished during the days leading up to the holiday.
8. Take inventory of holiday decorations
Pull out what you own, and determine what you might need to decorate the tree and your home. And be sure to trash / recycle those items that you are no longer using. Battle back the clutter baby- even over the holidays!
9. Break down larger projects into smaller tasks
Assign only one task (or maybe some smaller tasks from several items) to each week, so it does not all sneak up on you on once in late December!
10. Make some time for you!
It would be really nice if this was the year that you made it to Christmas morning feeling excited and re-charged instead of exhausted and frazzled, don’t you think? The best way to realize that dream would be to schedule some time for yourself every single week for the 7+ weeks that feeds your own soul. For some people that might include a few hours each week with a good book (with a glass of wine seated next to a roaring fire sounds ideal to me), and for others, it might be some time at the gym or a few hours volunteering for a worthy cause. Whatever will help re-fill your cup that runneth-over, make sure that you make time for it!
Shall we Prepare Together?
Over the next 7 weeks I will be sharing my ideas to help you (and me!) get ready for the holidays- and I would love fellow bloggers to join up! The graphic above shows my game plan for holiday planning…. and I would love it if you would write a post to fit the theme and link up with me as we get ready for the holidays!