Despite being a time of joy, the holidays can also be stressful for some people.
Generally speaking, the “holiday season”, as it is commonly known, lasts from Halloween to New Year’s Day, and when you take into account the decorations on the shelves of your local store right now, the “holiday season” can last for quite a long time.
Maybe it’s time to let go of your vision of the “perfect” holiday, if this time of year is a major source of stress for you.
Start with what you’ve got; take care of yourself, your family, and your home. Once you’ve got your house in order, you can bake those cookies, help make costumes for the kids’ Christmas play, or serve hot soup and sandwiches at the local shelter.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for a holiday season filled with love and joy. Don’t forget to give yourself a break…this time of year doesn’t need to be “perfect”…just enjoyed.
1. Make a holiday to-do list
Write down all the ideas and things you need to do for yourself and your home.
When you get your list out on paper, you can weed through it and focus only on what needs to be done. Create a shopping list and holiday menu, for instance.
Find out what you can delegate to others, and delegate it. There’s no need for you to do it all. Giving others a chance to help not only benefits your mental health, but also the person you are trying to help.
2. Set priorities
It is impossible to attend each and every holiday event that arises. Have your family sit down and write down what their favorite activities are.
Put them in your calendar and then evaluate how your time is spent. If things seem too busy, see what activities can be cut. Keep in mind that you will be able to enjoy the activities you choose much more if you are not exhausted and run down. Take your time and choose wisely!
3. Keep a calendar
Use your calendar to stay on top of your to-do list, whether you’re using a smartphone app, a file on your computer, or good old pen and paper.
Set deadlines for each task that needs to be completed.
For example, you can schedule a time to write a personalized note in each of your holiday cards and to mail them so each recipient gets them in time.
4. Schedule time for downtime
While it might sound crazy, it’s important to schedule time in your calendar to just stay home, relax and watch one or two Christmas movies, or play games as a family.
The calendar can quickly fill up and running from one activity or event to another can be exhausting.
If you have little kids, it’s even more important to take time for yourself. It’s much better to pick a few fun activities to do while they’re rested rather than feel like you have to take them to every Christmas parade and Santa viewing in town.
5. Take a quick inventory
See what you already have in your pantry that can be used for your holiday meals and make a list of what you need to purchase.
After that, go through your Christmas decorations and take inventory. It is okay to replace something that is in poor condition or simply omit it from your decorating plan.
If you’re one of those shoppers who buys gifts all year round, you can easily forget both that you’ve already purchased something and where it is!
It will be easier for you to place everything under the tree when you have an inventory of what you’ve already purchased and where it’s hidden.
If you’re a last minute shopper, make a list of the people you want to buy for, set a budget and follow it.
Do not be swayed by the sparkly displays you see everywhere…just enter, make your purchases, and leave.
Next time you sit down to pay your bills, you’ll be glad you stuck to your budget!
6. Control your holiday gifting
Trying to come up with that “perfect” present for someone who already has everything can be extremely stressful, and honestly, the post-Christmas clutter can also be overwhelming.
List who you typically give to and see if there is a way to cut back. Can you do a family gift exchange instead of giving each person a gift individually? Instead of buying gifts, what is a fun activity that you can do together?
7. Sort through toys
Take the time to go through all of your kids’ toys, and dispose of those that they no longer appreciate or play with.
Donate them to a local thrift store or charity shop if they are still in good condition.
8. Traditions can be changed
There is nothing better than having your own Christmas traditions that you look forward to every year, but don’t feel like you have to continue doing everything the same way because that’s how you’ve always done it.
It’s normal to grow out of some traditions as your kids age or as your interests change. Creating new ones is just a matter of getting started! Don’t fear going to that dreaded Christmas party again…just do something different this year that you’ve always wanted to do…or take a little more down time to sit by your glowing tree!
9. Make a holiday wrapping area
Don’t wait til Christmas Eve to wrap those gifts!
Set up a wrapping area somewhere in your home if you can or if not, get a Rubbermaid bin to hold all of the wrapping materials for gift bags, tags, ribbons, tape, scissors, etc.
Wrap things as you go, or at least every few presents or so, so you’re not overwhelmed by a pile of gifts. It’s fun to wrap a few presents and a good way to let out some creative energy!
As soon as they are wrapped, the gifts can also add some pretty decor to your home under a tree, stacked in a corner, or tucked away in a crate till Christmas. Make sure you write down what is inside your gifts if you wrap them early.
10. De-clutter the rest of your house
Working room by room, dedicate 15 minutes a day to sorting through all your things.
You’ll be able to do post holiday cleaning and organizing easier by getting rid of things you no longer use or need.
Last, but not least, if you keep your expectations realistic and decrease the stress you place on yourself this holiday season, you’ll once again enjoy this wonderful time of year…like you did as a child.
For more tips on holiday organization and decorations: