It’s the month before Christmas when all through your house creatures are stirring but there isn’t a mouse. The stockings still need to be hung by the chimney with care so that jolly old St. Nick can find his way there. Shopping, wrapping gifts and planning holiday menus still need to be done so that this year’s Christmas can be a ton of holiday fun.
If this sounds all too familiar in your household, we’re here to tell you that you aren’t alone. Though time is ticking, there’s no reason to throw in the towel just yet. There’s still plenty of time to make your holidays magical. But before you strap on your running shoes, it’s important to know how to cross the finish line stress free. Having a game plan before you start the race is the key to success. If you’re not one of those people that started shopping and decorating for the Christmas holidays in July, then these tips are for you.
Make a must-do list
This is exactly what it sounds like. Most likely there are things that you need to get done and others that you want to get done. They are very different. With the days counting down you’ll want to be sure to list those tasks that you have to finish. For example, if you are hosting Christmas dinner then your focus needs to be on completing the necessary tasks for the big feast. Decide on the other tasks that you must-do then prioritize all of them. Whether it’s shopping for gifts, baking cookies, or sending out greeting cards be sure to list them in the order that is most important to you. Don’t worry if you run out of time for the “want to do tasks” on your list. No one will ever know.
As you create your checklist a great way to stay on target is to assign a deadline date to the tasks on the list. Sending out greeting cards, baking cookies, and buying and wrapping gifts are the kinds of tasks that can be completed a week or two in advance. For example, bake your cookies two weeks in advance and freeze them. This also allows you to have something to bring to an unexpected invite to a potluck or an office party. Just take them out of the freezer, glaze them and away you go.
Keep a calendar handy
Sort out your invitations and write them on a master calendar. If you’re the type of person that uses your phone more than a paper version then go for it. Utilizing both methods will keep you organized and prevent you from forgetting. Be sure to include office parties, neighborhood cookie exchanges, kid’s concerts, school activities and volunteer commitments that you have agreed to.
Take the minimalist approach to Christmas decorating
This year the maximalist approach to holiday decorating is hotter than ever. But hey going against the trendsetters is kind of fun. Instead of decking your halls to the brim, this year only put up half of your decorations. Focus your efforts on decorating those areas in your home that hold a special place in your heart. The Christmas tree and the fireplace mantel and hearth are two such areas. There is nothing that says Christmas more than these two holiday decorating mainstays. When taking the minimalist approach to holiday decorating it’s imperative to remember that less is more.
It’s ok to say no
For many of us saying no is really, really hard. Knowing your limits will help you keep on task. Plus it’s best to admit that you are overextended instead of committing to one more holiday party or volunteering at one more school activity. Many people will also appreciate your honesty. Trying to fit in everything in a one-month time period will most likely leave you exhausted and stressed. Remember your goal is to have a happy holiday not wear yourself out.
Celebrate Christmas in January
Whoever said that you can’t celebrate Christmas in January? Well, you can. If you just didn’t have time to see a special friend, or a distance relative getting together after the holidays can be very relaxing and less stressful. Hosting a party in January can also ward off any winter doldrums that might set in.
Take a deep breath
Whether it’s soaking in the bathtub, or sipping a latte at your local coffee shop, it’s important to find your happy place during the holidays. Taking a yoga class, or working in a long walk into your schedule also helps to reduce stress levels. In other words take a deep breath, relax and schedule some time for yourself.
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