Christmas is a beautiful time of year with twinkling lights, swirling tinsel, glistening snowflakes, carolers and warm baked goodies. Well this is what we want it to be, but far too often we find ourselves frantically digging through attic boxes for décor, stuck in traffic and shopping lines grabbing those coveted gifts, staying up till wee hours wrapping and signing cards and too tired to enjoy the magic all around. How can we take back this beloved celebration and still get everything done? By making a list and checking it twice!
The time is now! If you haven’t started yet, don’t worry; there will always be the truly prepared who begin shopping and wrapping in July. You still have time to get the essentials complete and care for your emotional and mental well-being during the busy season.
Take that tip from Santa and make your list, perhaps not with naughty and nice, but essential and preferred. Then break that list into subjects and timing. Don’t worry, we’ll give you some pointers.
The cold has begun and the snow may not be far behind. It’s time to weatherproof and give yourself a few conveniences so Old Man Winter doesn’t boggle your Christmas agenda.
Be sure to winterize your car by tossing in a duffle bag with a flashlight, fresh batteries, gloves, a blanket, a hat, dry-packed snacks, a solid ice scraper and brush, a small shovel, extra coolant and a bag of large-grit kitty litter to give tires traction if you get stuck in the snow. You may update your roadside service and check that your spare tire kit is fully equipped as well.
Schedule in your mechanic to snow proof your tires and give you new window wipers as well as a check-up on fluids and belts. Nothing ruins a holiday like a bad roadside experience!
Your vehicle is useless if you can’t get to it! Treat yourself this season to a snow removal service. Check in your area for a company or independent handyman looking for some extra Christmas cash. If you have a reliable teenage neighbor, he may enjoy a bonus as well. Ask them to salt or sand your walkways and see if they will use a blower to unbury your car.
Now you are ready to get going!
Stock up on extra wood or burning bricks for your fireplace, or if it runs on gas, be sure to fill up now before the demands have you waiting an entire day for service. Have the chimneys cleaned and place fresh weather stripping around leaky windows or doors. Pull out your extra blankets, wraps and throws and give them a good wash before placing them around the house and on the beds.
Once your life is prepared, you can relax and get into the spirit!
The biggest time saver here is remembering that Christmas is not about you giving a present to everyone you know. Make a list of those you love, only those who you want to give to. Now you can spend the majority of your time choosing gifts for people that you care about. For everyone else, choose one to three generic gifts such as gift baskets, cards or certificates to spas, restaurants or large stores and buy several to pass out when needed. If you end up with an extra, give it to colleague or neighbor.
For those meaningful presents, think about the person for 3 – 5 minutes and write down in single words things that make you think of them like, chocolate, blue, singing, sweaters and dog. To really speed up the Christmas process, get online and find them a blue sweater, box of chocolates and a card with a singing dog. You get the idea!
Buy your gifts online! You can save yourself countless hours and store fatigue by sitting at your computer with a cup of hot chocolate and soothing music. If you love the idea of shopping, great! Just do not shop without a clear list of what you are buying, or you may wander for days without actually accomplishing anything.
Stage two is wrapping. For the price of the paper, tape, ribbons and bows, you can use wrapping services often provided by both online and in-store suppliers. You’ll save a ton of time by choosing to sign the card and leave the rest to professionals. If wrapping isn’t available, offer a meticulous teenager some holiday cash and Christmas cookies to get the job done!
Depending on your style this can be a one day to one week affair. Either way, it’s good to get ahead of the game now. This weekend take a day to pull out your boxes and sort through the decorations you want to use. Untangle your lights and check to see which ones still work. Have a pen and paper handy to write down anything you still need to find or replace to complete your holiday motif.
Put away all you don’t plan on using and leave the rest sorted and out of the way for quick set-up later. Head out and find what is missing and ask if you can sign up for your tree in advance. They may even offer delivery. If you’re using an artificial tree, be sure to buy it or unpack it now, so it has time to settle and fill out to its full form.
Time for pen and paper again. Write out your full feast for both Thanksgiving and Christmas in parallel lines to find the commonalities. As you look at the dishes you want on your holiday table, consider delegation. Even if you love to cook, a meal of that size is incredibly time consuming and can detract from your enjoyment on the big day. Enlist family and friends to come and cook with you or to bring a dish of their own. If you’re hosting, send out an e-vite with a list of needed foods and let people volunteer for what they prepare best.
Those turkeys goes fast! If you like having the golden bird at each holiday dinner, and have adequate freezer space, buy both of them now. As the two meals are quite similar, you can avoid the December rush and double up on frozen, dried and canned goods as well as spices.
Make desserts and cold salads a day or two in advance as they will still be tasty and focus on time sensitive foods the day of.
You may have seen a theme through the four key Christmas preparation tips, delegation. The holidays are about friends and family, not a one person show. Asking for help and hiring professionals is a wonderful way to bring some ease into the season.
By freeing up some time, you can remember to take care of yourself. Sneak away for your yoga class or sit and meditate in front of a crackling fire. Use the extra time to give yourself needed winter nutrition, hydrate and stay calm during the holidays.
Even the big man had his little helpers!