Can you believe Christmas is here again?! As women, the holidays are wonderful and overwhelming at the same time. There is so much to do! When it comes to big projects and getting things done, I’ve found the trick is to break it down, eliminate what isn’t essential, and identify clear action steps. This is especially helpful in planning something as big as Christmas.
Everyone has their own unique tasks and traditions for Christmas, so today I want to talk about 4 tasks that are common to just about everyone. I’m even going to suggest a checklist to help you get done what needs to get done because Christmas is in 3 ½ weeks! Can you believe it? There’s a reality check!
Dec. 1-3 – Decorate
If you haven’t done it already, this weekend is the time. Most of us are off work and out of school, and if you’re going to decorate, you’ll want to enjoy it for the whole month of December. It’s too much work to only get those decorations up for a week or two!
- Simplify! If the thought of putting up ALL the decorations is overwhelming, then just do the tree. Or skip the tree and do the garlands and the wreaths. Don’t let Pinterest pressure you into over decorating! Give yourself permission to tone it down a notch this year if that is what you need.
- Have extra Christmas lights on hand, command hooks – any of those little supplies that send you running to the store in the middle of decorating.
- Store your regular decorations in the Christmas bins. This is a smart way to store regular décor out of sight. And the perk? When you bring the Christmas bins back out to put the holiday décor away, your regular décor will be at your fingertips, ready to put back.
December 4-6 – Create your December Calendar
December is definitely the party month. All sides of the family, old friends, coworkers, church groups – it seems that we must celebrate the holiday season with everyone we know…and that can add up to a lot of parties! One trick I discovered a few years ago was to create an old school, Franklin Covey-like calendar for the month of December. My iPhone only allows me to see a day at a time. But a month-at-a-glance calendar helps me see just how busy I will be. My challenge to all of you is to create this calendar of events soon after decorating…between December 4-6.
- Simplify! This month-at-a-glance calendar can reveal a major source of all your holiday stress. Sometimes it is good to decline a few invitations to parties so you can stay home and enjoy some real peace for the season. Suggest to some groups that you gather in January or February instead, when things settle down.
- As you are calendaring your events, get the details and plan now. What dish will you be taking to that party? What white elephant? Is there a special clothing assignment or donation? Do you need to get a babysitter? Exactly what time will it start? Knowing these things can help you shop in advance, so you aren’t rushing to the grocery store last minute, or desperately searching for an ugly Christmas sweater.
- Don’t forget to design your holidays with events that are meaningful to you. Sometimes we feel that there are so many traditions we have to do that we don’t make time for new ones. What would make your holidays really memorable and magical? Consult with the family. Add it to the calendar.
By Saturday, December 16 – Strive to complete all shopping
I’m sure most of us have already gotten a head start with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But then we relax and suddenly the deadline is sneaking up on us. We hate that feeling of hoping that items will be shipped in time, or panicking when certain gifts have become unavailable. Give yourself the deadline of shopping, placing all orders and having all gifts safely in your home by Saturday, December 16.
- Make a gift list. This year I found it helpful to list out each person I am giving to. I listed all the gifts I could think of, and over a few days even got some ideas for those hard-to-buy-for people in my life. Seeing it all out on paper helped me get a clear picture of what I need to buy.
- Next, make a shopping list. Determine which gifts will be purchased at stores, and what will be bought online. Then, looking over your entire shopping list, decide what you will purchase at Walmart, Target, Amazon, Overstock. Minimize the amount of trips to the store and shipments that come, getting a lot done at once. You’ll love that feeling of walking in with a concise list, and walking back out in a short amount of time..
Gift Wrapping – Wrap it up by Wednesday, December 20.
As a rookie parent, I realized one Christmas Eve that I still had ALL the wrapping to do. After a very late night, I never made that mistake again! A few years later, I had to chase all my kiddos out of the house for hours right before Christmas to avoid that awful Christmas Eve wrapping fiasco. That was also not fun. Growing ever smarter, I now make sure I do it before the kids are out of school for Christmas break. My suggestion? Get it done this year by Wednesday, December 20, or whatever date your kids are out of school for the holiday.
- Buy lots of tape! You go through it faster than you think. Like my decorating tip above, nothing kills momentum faster than having to make an unexpected trip to the store.
- I like to create a wrapping station or container of wrapping supplies that I keep together during the holidays. It contains plenty of wrap, boxes, tape, tags, ribbon, fine-tipped sharpie marker for the gift tags, and anything else needed for quick wrapping. Though I strive to do it all in a few sessions, there are those quick present crises when we need to wrap something quick; so I like to have all of the supplies gathered together during the month of December.
This guide isn’t a one-size-fits all, but it can work as a great template to help you get the tasks of Christmas done. The magic of this planner is the peace you can experience the last few days before Christmas…when gifts are shopped for and wrapped and you can celebrate with your friends and family.
I wish you a very merry holiday season, and if you have great holiday tips please share them below!