Decorating from last year’s poorly packed boxes.
Greeting cards, stamps, missing addresses.
Mix this with short school schedules and year-end meetings/ reports and the stress just boils over. It’s easy to see why the holidays can drive anyone mad. So I came up with a solution that has worked for me. Today, I share my tips with you. Because this year, I WILL enjoy the holidays!
1. The List. Let this list be your friend. So grab your favorite cup of coffee, tea or sparkly glass of wine, open an excel sheet and list every person you need to shop for (do this during the last week of November). Begin with the most important folks and work your way down – parents, children, family, friends, teachers, bus driver, mail man, cleaning lady, sanitation crew – list everyone you would like to give to. Seeing the entire list can either make you scream for the hills or give you the full scope of what you are in for. Give yourself a solid dollar amount you are willing to spend (make sure to set up your excel formula) and begin listing what you are willing to spend on each person and a gift idea. Also, don’t be afraid to group certain people the same gift. For example, mail man, bus driver and cleaning lady can all receive a bottle of wine and gift card. Visit Trader Joe’s and buy one case of wine and a small dollar amount gift cards. Remember, this is a work in progress and can be adjusted throughout the season.
2. Cyber Shop the Toys. While I am a huge proponent of Shop Small Shop local, I am also a realist. I hate going anywhere near ToysRUs or any significant toy section of any department store. So from my List, during the first week of December, I purchase all the toys from one cyber shop – normally the site that offers either free shipping AND at least 10% off the total bill. In less than 30 minutes, the worst part of the list is done. THEN, Shop Small Shop Local. Take a look at everyone that remains on the list. Can you find what you would like to buy them locally? If not local you, do you know of a place local to them? Call or place your order with their local shop and spread the Holiday cheer exponentially!
3. Get the greeting card done. Nowadays, everyone is a graphic designer thanks to online stationary sites. I am a HUGE fan of VistaPrint, but there are also many great local print shops that can make your greeting cards spectacular. Choose your favorite photo or photos of the past year and either upload them to an online store or have them printed locally. One quick trick – I include a simple pre-printed message and our family names on the back side of my cards. I don’t need to sign each card, but I make sure to include one or two personalized sentences to each recipient. If you can’t think of something to say to the recipient, they shouldn’t be on your list. And like the gift list, do this either the last week of November or first week of December.
4. Pamper and Spa. Schedule a massage or pedicure at your favorite Spa some time in mid December. If you can swing it, invite some of your friends to join you and make it a Ladies Day complete with a lunch or brunch or dinner out. Everyone could use the distraction and relaxation.
5. Deck the Halls. Regardless of how much crap I throw away, our Christmas boxes multiply over the course of the year in the attic. I find, however, if we begin putting together our holiday decor after Thanksgiving, I can weed out the new crap and the old crap and just decorate with the pieces I treasure the most. Hubby and I tackle the outside and try to avoid ladders and more than two extension cords. Another day, we tackle the inside and let the kids help. Wine for the adults and hot coco for the kids. As the calendar turns to December, the decorations are done and it’s hard not to be in the holiday mood when you catch your child sitting under the tree writing their lists to Santa.
So this is what works for me. As of today, I have item #3 checked off, item #4 scheduled and item #5 done (and I also trashed two boxes!). I am almost finished with item #1 and, item #2 is all I really have left to tackle. I plan to enjoy this season and while I am certain I will have a melt down or a flash of panic, I have a plan and hope to stick to it. I WILL enjoy the holidays!