It’s hard to believe, but the holidays are almost upon us. This is by far one of my favorite times of the year! The hustle and bustle, the decorations, the food, the parties, the gift giving, and let’s be honest – the wine, it’s all filled with so much joy (or is it the wine that fills us with joy? Chicken or the egg, I don’t really care…).
The bummer about this time of year is that for many, the planning and organizing of it all is overwhelming, and the stress of it all steals what should be weeks of a whole lot of fun.
Years ago, I would feel burdened with massive “to-do’s” and “shoulds” during the holidays, and I felt more crazed than I did holly and jolly. That is, until I made a couple of easy changes.
- I reminded myself that no one cares about the extent to which I decorate my house, or how many dozens of cookies I made, or how fabulously each bow on each gift is tied, or if my party dress is one they’d already seen before.
- I made a simple plan for getting everything done, and gave myself a little grace for that which didn’t.
The first is easy, and pretty self-explanatory. The second was a life saver, and is as basic as infinity scarves. I’ve been doing it ever since, and if you find yourself regularly tearing your hair out three days before Christmas, I’d love for you to use it, too.
Every year, I essentially just create a big old master list that I title “Christmas 2017” and as I buy gifts and complete tasks, I change the color of the row to indicate that I’m done with that item. Breaking it down this way helps me see that there’s a lot less to do than I realized, once I make each task a bite-sized step.
The idea of shopping for people is actually the hardest part. Once you have a list of who you are buying for, and what you’re buying, it’s easy to knock out the list. When writing down “Billy” on the gift list, I also write down what I’m planning on getting Billy, unless I’m not entirely sure, in which case I’ll write down some ideas. (I don’t actually know anyone named Billy, so “Billy” won’t be getting crap this year.)
Having a plan is half the battle and takes a lot of the stress and overwhelm out of “having so much shopping to do!” and creates a little margin so that we can enjoy the process of gift giving, which is sort of the point…
A master “calendar” is helpful when I’m tackling the bigger picture. I assign a weekend for decorating the tree and the house, I assign a weeknight or two to address and stamp cards (I’m old school and still love to send cards), a day to shop for clothes for parties and religious services, and I also try to assign at least one day on a weekend to bake cookies. I’ve also learned to LET GO of what doesn’t get done. One year we made NO cookies, and somehow we still ate plenty of them that season.
Regardless of how you get your shopping done; Black Friday, online, real brick & mortar stores – I try to assign dates and times on my calendar for this as well. Now admittedly, this doesn’t always work out that way. We have to do things when we can, and sometimes that means picking up gift cards because we’re running an unrelated errand and it’s going to save us time. But overall, if you can designate shopping to its own date(s) and time(s), you’ll knock it out more quickly and efficiently, and hopefully, have some fun doing it. (And by “fun” doing it I mean build in time for lunch, coffee, perhaps a stop at a wine bar – what’s the point of joining the fray that is holiday shopping if you’re not at a minimum having lunch?)
There’s still plenty of time to do a few things well in advance. Shopping and Christmas cards can be done in advance, and the more you get done early, the more you can savor the season rather than rush through it getting things done. I know some of you have your shopping done by July, and that’s amazing, quite frankly. But for the rest of us, let’s see what we can do between now and Thanksgiving that will make December a little easier to navigate.
If you’d like to steal my master list and give it a try, please feel free. You can download it here.
I’d love to hear from you! Let me know how you add more jolly to your holly. What do you do to make the holidays simpler and a little more stress free?