FIVE Ways to Prep for the Holidays
Do you feel your stomach flip when you hear “how many days ‘til Christmas”? Do you regularly find yourself dreading the holidays only because you feel that you are running a race every single day?
Let’s enter into the holidays this season with a lighter step and maybe even a little extra cash in our pockets. There’s only one thing you need to do: Strategize.
Already some of you are cringing. But really, just a tiny bit of strategic thinking can make EVERY part of your holidays more enjoyable.
Come on. Let’s give it a shot. Obviously, there are countless way to prepare for the holidays. I’ve narrowed it down to these five . . .
- Make a list of who you need to buy for. Before I was officially a grown up, I carefully made a list each and every year. I had limited resources, as well as my chauffeur had limited hours available (we called her Mom). Somehow I grew out of this habit, and it has made my December way more hectic then it needs to be.
This year I’ve put together a list, and it’s already made my trips to the shopping mall or across the Internet more fun, because I at least know who I am buying for. (And do not tell me you’ve never gone to the mall knowing you had to buy gifts but not having ANY idea what you were getting or who you were buying for.) This also can dramatically help you keep a budget and manage your time.
BONUS TIP: When you see that you can buy similar or the same things for different people, do it. You’ll usually save on shipping at least, and often there are discounts, such as “buy one, get one 50% off.”
- Be purposeful about decorating. Just because you save all those holiday decorations every single year, does not mean you have to use them. In fact, if you have decorations that you’ve, let’s say “outgrown,” give them to someone who might appreciate them.
You also don’t need to go crazy and pick up all new Christmas décor you see, either. You may be surprised at how little you really need to give your home that festive touch: candles (particularly white); evergreen branches from outside or from the neighborhood tree lot placed in large vases or along table runners; large cream-colored ribbons (or gold or silver) wrapped around pictures to look like gifts. And why not add a few little ornaments to your plants around the house or twinkly lights?
BONUS TIP: One of the easiest ways to bring the holidays to your house is with a festive smell. Around this time of year, I trade out all my regular candles and hand soaps and dish soaps for an evergreen fragrance. (Though peppermint or cinnamon work too.)
- Try to set dates now for special get-togethers with friends or family. Isn’t that what’s so special about the holidays, anyway? And if we can’t get together with those we love because everyone’s schedules are already packed, well, poo.
BONUS TIP: Because December tends to get busier, when you can, opt out of those normal activities to make space for the once-a-year events you don’t want to miss. It helps you—and those around you—from getting burned out and too tired to enjoy anything.
- Some folks tend to stress over what they wear over the holidays. Before you run out and spend way more than you need to on something you may only wear once, check your closet. My clothes are separated by dresses, pants and skirts, and then tops. So I can pretty quickly scan each area and see what might be appropriate and fun and not cost me anything extra.
BONUS TIP: If you can, designate two outfits per special event, so you have some flexibility. This takes out one little stressor that can wreak havoc on the gatherings. It also alerts you that if you indeed need to go buy a new long skirt or boots to jazz up what you already have, you can do that now, while they still have your size.
- Do you still enjoy sending and receiving cards? If so, now is the time to buy or make them. Take a look at 5 Steps to Sending Holiday Cards to help you get going.
BONUS TIP: I have found it valuable over the years to sometimes send out a “New Year’s” card to give me those few extra critical days to get the cards mailed. And some have even resorted to sending out a Valentine’s greeting to not have to add that to their already-busy December schedule.
Even if you only take one of these strategies to kick off the holiday season, you will gain a little extra time, money, and maybe even a quiet night or two on the couch.
Happy days ahead. Let’s do this.