It’s hard to believe. The holidays are just around the corner. And, there are more than one. First, there’s Halloween. Next, less than a month later is Thanksgiving. Just four weeks after that is Christmas. Finally, only a week later is New Years. How are you going to get everything done? You need a good plan and we got the perfect holiday plan for you.
Even though there are lots to do for the holidays, we can’t stop doing the regular things. Your holiday plan needs to include feeding the family, doing the laundry, keeping the house clean, and all those other regular chores. Some of these things can’t be shortened but some can be done more efficiently to help free up some time.
Starting in September or October, I change my meal planning to monthly. This only takes a little longer the first week of the month. It frees up that time for the next three to four weeks. I also go to using more freezer and crock pot meals to make prep time quicker too. In addition, I do all the advance prep I can at the beginning of the month. See this post for the details on my meal planning routine or purchase my Meal Planning System.
If you can afford it, this is a great time to hire a cleaning service, either regularly or for one-time service. Or, teach a family member to do some of the cleaning chores. This not only frees up some of your time through the holidays, but it can be an ongoing time saver for the new year.
Holiday Plan for Decorating
Most of us like to decorate our homes and yards for the holidays. This takes time, but if we plan ahead, we can minimize the time we need.
In September, do general fall decorating using things like colored leaves, pumpkins, and hay bales.
Then in early October, add some witches, black cats, and jack-o-lanterns for Halloween.
Once Halloween has passed, take those additional decorations out. Add in pilgrims, wheat stalks, Indian corn and cornucopias for Thanksgiving.
Basing most of your general decorations on a general fall theme means you won’t spend as much time switching everything out.
Be sure to put each type away in separate tubs so that next year its super simple to pull the right things at the correct time.
Parties and Holiday Meals
Get your parties and special meals on the calendar as soon as possible so you have more time to plan for each. Since the early part of this time period tends to be less hectic, do as much as you can ahead of time.
There are lots of food prep chores that can be done early. Celery and onions can be chopped now and frozen. Then, all you need to do is thaw them for the dressing. Since they’re going to be cooked, you don’t have to worry if they aren’t as crisp.
Shelf stable and frozen ingredients can be purchased now so you no longer use up precious brain power thinking about them. In addition, this helps spread the expenses out.
Even if you’re hosting, there’s nothing that says you can’t get some help with the food. Assign dishes to others that are attending to reduce your workload.
Cards and Invitations
If you didn’t buy your cards and invitations on sale after the holidays last year, purchase them as soon as possible.
Put your address book, some good pens, and the cards and invitations in a tote bag. Carry it with you so you can address cards while waiting for appointments or to pick up the kids.
Doing them in little pieces also makes it less tasking to write a personal note in each card. Win, Win!
First, take as many gifts as possible off your list. I realize that this isn’t realistic when children are small but once our kids reached high school age, they knew that they would be getting cash to use as they wanted for Christmas. This meant I didn’t have to try to buy a gift for picky teenagers and that they got what they wanted. It even did away with a lot of the begging since they knew they could just buy it later. For me that was a definite win, win situation.
If you’re making things and haven’t gotten started yet you had better put things in high gear (unless it’s baking you’re probably behind, sorry). You need to make a holiday plan for your gift making preferably early in the year so you have plenty of time to work on the gifts. Our time gets tighter and tighter as the holidays approach. This might be another thing that you can carry with you to work on during waiting times.
Figure out who you want to buy gift cards for. Buy them early, address them and put them somewhere ready to go. This is another double benefit item in that it frees up the brain space and spreads out the expenses.
Ask for help
Let go of perfection and the attitude that you have to do everything. (See this post for my thoughts on that subject.) That are lots of things that your spouse would be glad to help with if you would ask. Just remember, when you are delegating you need to let them do it their way and accept the results without negative comments. If you don’t, they won’t be willing to help again next year. The holidays should be about being present together, not perfection.
As children grow there are things that they can help too. Elementary children can address cards and it’s actually good writing practice for them. Just give them a list of who the cards need to go to and the address book. They really can handle it from there and it gives them good practice at life skills.
I keep a running list for holiday cards so it doesn’t take me very long to make changes and additions each year.
Keep the Stress Down
Your holiday plan needs to include self-care and stress management. You can actually plan to keep stress at bay. Check out this post for more information on that. Also, make sure that health care is in your plan. Schedule “ME” time, even if it just means sitting on the deck without interruption for 20 minutes. I know that seems like wasted time but trust me this is important. That 20 minutes will make you much more productive the rest of the time.
Let me know what you do to make the holidays less stressful in the comments below.