There seems to be a lot out there about simplifying your holidays. But for some of us, more is what the holidays are about – more time with family, more celebrations, more food, more giving. Maybe you don’t want to make it simple, but just more manageable. If the season already has you stressed and anxious, consider these suggestions to help you and your family prioritize what’s important this holiday and organize to get it all done while still having fun!
Prioritize your Holiday Activities
Consider what this time of year means to you and be honest with yourself about what you want and don’t want to do. Decide now how you want to spend your time, your money and your energy and stick to those principles. Don’t let yourself be pushed off course by pressure to do or give what others are doing and giving. In order for the holidays to be meaningful, they must mean something to you.
Everyone makes “to do lists” at this time of year. Make a “don’t do list.” Activities that aren’t critical or that you don’t enjoy go on this list; follow it just like your to do list. You may find that the tasks that you decide to do this year are more manageable and more enjoyable.
Ask family members about events and traditions that are important to them. There’s no need to keep traditions just because you’ve “always done it” or because it’s something your neighbors do, or that your family did when you were a kid. The traditions that are warmly remembered for years to come are those that everyone enjoys doing. Activities don’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Take a walk or drive through your neighborhood to look at holiday decorations. Volunteer as a family at a local food bank. Go out to breakfast together before a day of holiday shopping.
Organize your Holiday Calendar
December is a busy time for most of us and keeping track of events takes some extra effort. If you’re a paper calendar type, print a free December calendar and post it where everyone in the family will see it. If you prefer an electronic calendar, consider an online version that everyone in the family can view and update.
Review your email inbox, check school newsletters and look over your organizations’ online events calendars for holiday parties, performances and volunteer activities. Put everything you plan to participate in on your calendar. Make note of travel plans, deadlines for ordering gifts and placing catering orders, and cut-off dates for shipping packages. Add events to the calendar as soon as invitations and announcements come in and be sure that everyone in the family knows to check the calendar before making commitments.
If holiday parties and performances mean you’ll need a child care – call your favorite babysitter now! It’s easier to relax and enjoy an evening out if you know your kiddos are happy and well-cared for at home.
Be realistic in your scheduling. Having everything on one calendar helps you to see where you have the potential to be overbooked. Allow for commuting time, long lines and other obstacles that can derail a scheduled that’s packed too tightly. This is a time to practice saying, “No.” Much as you may want to do it all, resist the temptation to say yes to everything and give those commitments you do make your full attention.
Organize your Holiday with Tear Files
This time of year, the paper just seems to pile up! Catalogs, magazines and coupons fill our mailboxes and, eventually, our kitchen counters and end tables. And it’s tempting to want to keep them all – you might find the perfect gift or recipe in there…somewhere.
To combat the growing piles of glossy paper, create a set of tear files organized by subject to easily store and later retrieve those pages you come across this month (or even all year). Tear out pages with the idea, gift or recipe you want to save and then recycle the rest of the magazine, flyer or catalog. Use file folders in a stand-up desktop holder, plastic page protectors in a notebook or an accordion file. Some suggestions for individual files:
- Gift ideas (be sure to note who the gift is for)
- Home decorating ideas
- Tabletop and centerpiece ideas
- Gifts to make
- Public events and exhibitions to check out
There’s no single fix to making this busy time of year easy to manage, but employing these tactics to prioritize and organize can make your holiday season more enjoyable.