The holidays are just around the corner. Calendars are beginning to fill up with family plans, work parties, neighborhood get-togethers, church gatherings, and special school activities. Add in shopping for gifts, food, wrapping paper, holiday cards, home decor, and the everyday time demands, and you can see that being organized pays!
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Stress and depression can ruin your holidays and hurt your health. Being realistic, planning ahead, and seeking support can help ward off stress and depression.” In this article, we’re going focus on planning ahead.
Advance planning requires organization. Take back your holiday cheer and stay organized by following what I call my “Top 10 Tips” for seasonal survival. If you follow these simple guidelines, you will have more time to focus on what really matters and enjoy the true spirit of the season.
1. MAKE LISTS. Lists are the key to a smooth holiday season. The more detailed, the better. Keep your monthly master plan in clear view for the entire family to see. Post your daily to do list for all to see as well, and don’t be shy in asking for help. Grandparents will appreciate a copy of this list, too. Often they are your biggest supporters!
2. TRACK EVENTS PROMPTLY. As soon as an event is announced, mark it on the calendar, even if you think you will not be able to attend. Plans change! Dropping into a neighbor’s party at the last minute might be your chance to visit during a busy holiday season. Being flexible eases stress.
3. TAKE INVENTORY. As you prepare to decorate, go through all your stored holiday items. Donate what you do not want and clean out as you unpack. Start a list of items to pick up the next time you shop.
4. GET CREATIVE. Consider alternatives to traditional gift-giving. Donating to a local charity in someone’s honor is a wonderful and practical gift. Last year, a friend made a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of a Sunday school teacher. The teacher loved it and called the gesture personal and unique!
5. WRAP RIGHT. When it comes to wrapping gifts, keep it simple and save time by using like color themes.
6. DECORATE TOGETHER. Decorating your home for the holidays can be a fun family tradition. Schedule a day or weekend and enjoy some festive snacks or drinks while decorating. Resist over-accumulation of decorating items by keeping only decorations that you love or that go together. What works for me is cleaning the house the day before my family decorates.
7. SEND STRESS-FREE. Sending holiday cards is a treasured tradition, but it can also be time-consuming. Prepare for this project throughout the year by maintaining a spreadsheet of family contacts for holiday cards. I track new addresses by taking a picture with my phone and updating my spreadsheet periodically. Ask your family for help with stamping and labeling envelopes.
8. PACK IT UP. At the end of the season, you might be tempted to chuck everything in boxes and get on with the new year. But labeling carefully and using clear storage boxes will make the sorting and decorating process easier next year. Do your future self a favor and take the time to do it right!
9. FOCUS ON YOU. The holidays can be a stressful time and we often feel “too busy” to eat right or relax. Scheduling “me” time and maintaining healthy habits will go a long way toward warding off stress – and that means you’ll actually be more productive. Go for a walk outside, eat right, or ask for the gift of massage.
10. SAY “NO” WHEN NEEDED. Everyone knows the most organized people accomplish the most tasks. As a result, you will be asked often to do even more. Saying “no” means you simply want to focus on doing the best with your current responsibilities. This is a year-round survival skill!