Here are 8 simple tips for getting organized for the holidays that will also reduce stress!
It’s December, the most wonderful time of the year! It’s a time when we get together with friends, our family and colleagues to celebrate the past year and get ready to start a new one.
But for some, this time of year can be stressful as with all of these joyous events, there is cooking, baking, holiday outfits to fit into or buy, hostess gifts, organizing of babysitters… the list is so much bigger than other times of the year!
All of the additional activities, parties and things that go with them adds to our already busy lives and this can cause a lot of stress for some. In fact, it can take away for the joy these events are supposed to create!
I thought I would share some of my favourite planning tips to help create a stress-free December holiday season. With a little pre-planning, you will feel like you have more control over your family’s schedule at this busy time of year. So, let’s bring back the joy and make this the most wonderful time of the year again!
Here are my top 8 tips for getting organized for the holidays– I hope they help you as much as they help my family!
PICK YOUR PRIORITIES
This is the first because it is the most important. You can’t do everything, so pick what is most meaningful to you and your family.
To figure out your priorities, here is what I recommend – gather your family and a calendar (a large family sized whiteboard works well for this and is also helpful with planning all year long!) and write down all of the family’s ‘wish list’ items and parties they have been invited to. Put the parties in the calendar and see where there is overlap. Do you have any free time on weekends after you add them in? If weekends are too busy, as a family, pick what can be removed. Remember – if your evenings and weekends are jammed with events, you won’t be able to enjoy the events, so it’s better to have down time in between all of your activities.
Pick and choose what you will commit to and write them all down ensuring everyone is happy with the end result. Ensure there are fun family activities sprinkled into the ‘must-attend’ events as well, ensuring there is a good mix of planned events. Put the calendar in a place where everyone can see it daily because it will help everyone stay on track and organized. It will also help you plan ahead!
SCHEDULE FAMILY DOWN, OR QUIET TIME
Ok, I know I mentioned this above, but it is important, so it gets its own call out. Scheduling time in our calendar to stay home, relax, have family game night or watch a seasonal movie is very important to reducing stress at this time of year. And everyone, especially our little ones, need downtime!
As you’ll see from updating the family calendar, time will fill up quickly and if you don’t schedule in down time, you won’t have any. This is one of the biggest causes of stress – being too busy. So plan to have quiet time.
Being over scheduled will result in rushing to get things done, not feeling organized or happy with your choices and feelings of being tired, even exhausted. When all of this builds-up we feel anxious, stressed and unhappy – we may even get a bit over-emotional unnecessarily (especially little ones!).
So please, do your family this favour – schedule family down time throughout the week and each and every weekend!
PLAN YOUR PARTIES IN ADVANCE
If you are like me, you like to host at least one seasonal get together with friends and family. I recommend that if you haven’t already planned for it, you get started because hosting an event takes organization and planning!
Here are some tips to make hosting less stressful:
Pick your favourite recipes that you can make with your eyes closed! You will thank yourself later for this.
Your decorations and menu do not have to be elaborate – your friends and family are there to spend time with you, not your ‘stuff’.
Consider having board games or other fun activities for the little ones to keep them entertained so the adults can mingle.
If preparing a large meal is stressful, ask your company to bring a dish or host a cocktail and appetizer event in the afternoon or after dinner.
Keep drink options simple – a special martini bar is not needed, and it may cause stress for the person behind the bar when they should be having a good time.
Light music playing always helps me stay focused when hosting an event because it reminds me to enjoy myself.
KEEP THINGS SIMPLE
Most importantly, remember that having your friends and family over is about being together and having fun. Don’t let the details of the dinner table or anything else get in the way of that!
TRADITIONS ARE GREAT, BUT NOT ALWAYS NEEDED
It’s always nice to have traditions at this time of year (anytime of year really), but don’t feel that you have to do everything the same way just because that is how you did it in the past or it’s how your parents did it. As your kids get older and/or your interests change, you may decide on new traditions or to switch things up a bit and that’s okay. By making the season your own, you’ll feel less obligated to get everything right – and that means less stress!
Consider not going to the Christmas party that you dread every year and take the time to do something that you have always wanted to do. Allow yourself to build your own traditions (and that might mean not having traditions!)
You’ll thank yourself for this, I promise.
REDUCE UNECESSARY HOLIDAY GIFT GIVING
Reducing unnecessary gift giving is a huge stress reliever! The time spent searching for the perfect gift, stressing over budget, wrapping and then the dreaded post-purchase inevitable second-guessing conversation… “I’m not sure she’ll like it. Do you think she’ll like it?”
You know from experience that getting a gift for the sake of getting a gift is a waste. A waste of money, time and space in your home. So just don’t support the ‘tradition’.
Instead, pre-plan with your family and friends and do something different, here are a few ideas that will make you less stressed AND having you feeling great about your choice…
Make a group donation to a cause that is near and dear to you.
Similarly, every family picks a cause and makes a donation and then shares their cause and why they picked it over dinner.
Plan a post-holiday group experience where you can all get together to have fun, some ideas… bowling, a paint night, volunteer at the food bank or an animal shelter… (Remember that your children will likely remember all of the time spent together throughout the holidays rather than the major their gifts, so don’t let shopping take over your fun!)
And for those that you want to shop for, plan your shopping list and get out early to avoid the crowds.
TACKLE THE SMALL THINGS EARLY
Ok, this one encompasses a lot of things so I will make it easy. The more you leave to the last minute the more stressed you’ll feel. Please add all of these activities into the family calendar and you’ll feel so much better as each event or activity approaches!
Create an organized space to wrap gifts as you buy so you aren’t left wrapping minutes before heading out the door.
Organize holiday outfits now. Do you have anything from last year that can be worn? If not, get out now so you aren’t rushing the day of!
If you are like me and send holiday cards, put this in the calendar too. Block off time to personalize each card and get them mailed early.
If you like to give out baked goods, make a list of what you want to bake (and quantities) and pick up the ingredients early. That way you have everything you need when you begin baking and there are no last-minute grocery shops needed.
If you plan on hosting and there is a possibility of snow or freezing rain in your area, keep your shovels handy and make sure you have a good supply of salt or sand to lay down before your company arrives.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
There is nothing worse than being run down or sick throughout the holidays, so you need to put yourself as a priority. I know that it can be hard to get to bed when there always seems to be something that needs to get done, but if you planned ahead, your list should be manageable, which means you can keep to a reasonable bedtime.
By pre-planning, and sticking to your plan, you should feel less stressed this December. And it’s important to keep up with drinking your water, getting rest, and keeping active. Ensuring you are looking after yourself will be the best gift you can give yourself and your family!
FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS MOST
While last, by no means is this the least important. Remember to stop amidst the busy and chaos to focus on what matter most this holiday season.
This is a time of celebrating, giving to others, being thankful for all of our blessings, and experiencing the wonder that makes this the most wonderful time of year.
“Today I choose to live with gratitude for the love that fills my heart, the peace that rests within my spirit, and the voice of hope that says all things are possible.” – Anonymous
Remember to pause, reflect and to practice gratitude. Remember that it’s not about being perfect or being the best, it’s about being present and happy. It’s about love and friendship. Take a moment to cherish your surroundings and those you are with, and then just remember those moments.
“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.” – Amy Collette
I hope you find these tips to reduce stress over the holidays helpful, I know they help keep my family happy and organized.
Stick around for my next blog post on simple hostess gift ideas!