Simple organization tips to prepare for the holiday season
In 2015 I was due with my second child in December. I decided to get all of my shopping AND wrapping done by October 31st so that I didn’t forget anyone and so that I wasn’t as stressed as my due date was near. Guys, it was SUCH a good feeling having it DONE (plus I forgot most of the gifts I had gotten, so it was a surprise for all of us by Christmas!).
For those of us who celebrate a holiday towards the end of the year, it should be a time to get cozy, spend time with loved ones, slow down, and reflect before the new year begins. For some reason our society has turned it into this stressful time for many. As I am always a proponent of “finding your calm,” I encourage you to intentionally work to reduce any stress that you typically feel during the holiday season. Here are a few tips I’ve gathered to help you knock out your to-dos and enjoy the season!
*Disclaimers: We don’t have a large family, which automatically makes scheduling the holidays pretty simple every year. Those of you having to balance two families and many members, or are in the position of hosting, you’re on your own! Just kidding – I’d still recommend thinking about what really matters to you, what boundaries you need to set, and how you can nip any conflicts in the bud before they start.
You may not celebrate Christmas, but these tips for getting ahead of any big times of year, large celebrations, or other holidays can still be applied.
Holiday Shopping & Wrapping
I use the “Gift Ideas” page in my planner to keep a running list of ideas for friends and family. Things they’ve mentioned throughout the year, or ideas I see somewhere that remind me of them. So, when it comes time to purchase gifts, I am not just buying a gift for the sake of giving one; I prefer to give gifts that are useful or have meaning. My list helps me keep my eye out for small businesses as well.
This is my personal opinion, but I try not to get too caught up in all the sales and “deals” that the big businesses offer for Black Friday. It’s gotten pretty insane how much we’ve lost focus on family time and slowing down and replaced it with consumerism. That’s not to say don’t make any purchases during that time, but consider focusing on just a few deals you’d like to take advantage of, or supporting small businesses that are also running promotions that weekend.
If you can knock out most or all of your purchases early, just keep that momentum and get everything wrapped as well. What a huge relief to have that off your list later! If you’re really on top of it, you’ll have bought sale wrapping paper the year before to save some money!
Holiday Photos & Cards
Photographers are BUSY in the Fall, and I would sign up for photos or a mini session early! Get them done in October if you can, and that gives you plenty of time to get the final photos and order your cards (based on my own informal research, *most* families send out photo cards these days). Sites like Groupon always have deals, and I scope out the designs before deciding which coupon to purchase. Ordering them ahead gives you extra time to address them and have them ready to go out December 1st (and who doesn’t want to look THAT on top of things! Maybe that’s just my Enneagram 3 showing….)
I also like to have a set of non-photo cards on hand for acquaintances, workers you’d like to acknowledge (postal workers, delivery, waste management, etc) or unexpected gift givers. Having the supplies on hand makes everything so much easier.
The “Optionals” – Cookies, Crafts, Pajamas, Etc.
Sometimes Pinterest gets the best of us and we feel like in order to make the holiday season special we need to do ALL THE THINGS. Take some time to evaluate what’s important to you and your family. Kids can make memories doing anything, so don’t exhaust yourself trying to keep up with the Joneses. Make a Winter Bucket List of the top things you want to do. Does your family have a tradition of making gingerbread houses? Maybe it’s baking cookies, eating pizza and looking at lights, making a new ornament for the tree. Whatever those special things are, focus on that and be willing to let other things go. It’s about time spent together, not what you accomplished.
I just came across a business I hadn't heard of, Allison Carter Celebrates. Her website describes her Memories in Moments: Unwrapped as a holiday themed box of beautifully curated DIY decor, crafts, activities, tabletop supplies, recipes, and more...all addressed to your kiddos and delivered straight to your door! Subscriptions can be cancelled anytime, no strings attached! She currently has a Holiday Bundle for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas-themed activities that I am eyeing!
Balancing obligations, extended family, and sensitive feelings during the holidays can be challenging to navigate. I remember a vlogging family I used to follow talking about how they had to make the decision about what’s best for their own young family on holidays, and had to just hope that all their family understood. They decided to have Christmas Day completely on their own, but had planned get-togethers with both sides of their family on other days that week. That took so much off their plate and so much stress from them. Their kids didn’t have to be shuttled around all day and could relax and enjoy family time.
I’m sure this doesn’t go as smoothly for all families, but I’d encourage you to reflect on what you want your holiday season to look like, and what memories you want to have 10, 20, 40 years from now.