This week’s blog post is by Christine Luken.
The Holidays are coming! The Holidays are coming! That’s right – only one month until Halloween, two months until Thanksgiving, and LESS than three months until Christmas!! Are you panicked yet? Well, don’t be. I’ll tell you the secret weapon you need for a less stressful 2013 holiday season. Planning!
Most of us – me included – tend to wing it when it comes to shopping, cooking, and decorating for the holidays. In the same way that meal planning reduces the cost and stress of putting dinner on the table, investing a little time in advanced planning for your holiday celebrations NOW will pay big dividends later.
Find the Right Tools ~ I found this awesome and FREE Holiday Planner which has handy sheets for keeping track of your gift list, holiday expenses, and activities. It’s geared towards Christmas, but you could make a copy for each holiday to track decorations, crafts, travel plans, food, and more! I like that it includes a budget, which increases the likelihood that I won’t overspend on my holiday fun.
Narrow It Down ~ I’ve been collecting ideas for Halloween on Pinterest and there is NO WAY that I will be able to make and bake everything on that board! So now is the time to narrow it down and decide what I can reasonably accomplish based on the time and money I want to spend. Think about what traditions your family really looks forward to for each holiday and make sure you allocate time in your schedule. This way you won’t be carving pumpkins at midnight, pulling your pumpkin pie out of the oven an hour before you’re supposed to be at Grandma’s house, or facing an all-night wrap-a-thon on Christmas Eve.
Build Your To-Do & Assign Dates ~ Once I decide what I’m going to do for each holiday, the next thing to do is figure out when. By looking at my schedule for October, November, and December, I’ll be able to figure out when is the best time to indulge in some baking and crafts. In past years, I’ve always waited until the last minute, which means half of what I wanted to do goes unfinished.
More Time, Stress, & Money Saving Ideas ~ Look over your Holiday To-Do List (which should be posted somewhere you see it often, like the refrigerator) and consider your food and baked goods. What can you make ahead and freeze? When I visited my Uncle Paul in August, he was baking pies for Thanksgiving and popping them in the freezer. What a great idea! Get started on personalized gifts, Christmas cards, and family pictures now. I always make calendars full of family pictures for my parents as Christmas gifts. I hate to admit that I’m always doing this at the last minute, emailing my sisters for good shots of my nieces and nephews to include. This means I’m usually paying for express shipping to get the calendars on time. Shopping for both food and gifts during the holiday season can be stressful. If possible, plan shopping trips during the week in the morning when crowds will be light. I’ve taken vacation days from work to accomplish this in past years and it’s worked really well.
Have a tip for saving time, money, or stress during the holiday season? I’d love to hear it!