Do you dread the holidays? Do you feel like jumping into bed and pulling the covers over your head until January?
The stress of the holidays comes not from shopping, cooking, wrapping, and sending cards. It's caused by our own perfectionism. We procrastinate, delay, and then overspend until we miss out on all of the holiday joy.
This year, commit to starting early. Make a holiday notebook that details the baby steps that will save you time, money, and peace of mind. Grab a notebook and calendar, and spend the first week of November making the four lists that follow.
Then, during the rest of the month, spend fifteen minutes every day reviewing your lists, tracking your spending, checking your progress, and buying gifts online. In addition, spend each weekday as follows: On Mondays, plan your weekly shopping list. On Tuesdays, put up holiday decorations. On Wednesdays, address five to 10 cards. On Thursdays, shop for the gifts on your list. Spend Fridays wrapping and mailing gifts. Follow this plan, and by December, most of your holiday obligations will be complete.
Don't forget that you set the tone for your home. Pace yourself and take well-deserved breaks! Stick to your November plan, and you'll spend the first three weeks of December baking cookies, adding the final touches to decorations, welcoming family and friends, and getting into the spirit of the season!
List 1: Holiday Traditions
Create family memories by first holding a family meeting to discuss each person's favorite traditions. It's what you do, not what you buy, that's important, so don't overlook small but significant family rituals. This list might include:
- Buy one new ornament for the tree
- Keep favorite holiday music going in December
- Hold a cookie baking session with the kids
- Take holiday photos
- Stock up on hot cocoa mix for Sunday evenings
List 2: Holiday Menus and Recipes
Plan to fix your family's favorites - this is not the time to experiment!
- Plan each course for the major holiday meals
- List all the recipes you will use, noting the cookbook each is in and page numbers
- List the ingredients you'll need for each dish
- List any specialty ingredients that you can't get at the supermarket
- Make a baking ingredients shopping list
List 3: Gifts
Break up your shopping by buying one or two gifts online each day. If you purchase from catalogs, place orders well before December 10 - to ensure that items are still in stock and to avoid express shipping fees. Make a shopping list that details for each person on the list:
- Whether you will make or buy the gift
- What you're giving (keep homemade presents simple)
- How much you can spend
- The store or catalog where you'll buy the gift. If you're ordering online or from a catalog, write down the Web site and tracking number
- Whether the present has been wrapped
- Keep your receipts (in an envelope)
List 4: Dates to Put on Your Calendar
- Fend off procrastination by reviewing this list each week.
- Deadlines for homemade gifts
- Shipping deadlines (mail early!)
- Date to mail cards
- Departure dates (if you're traveling)
- Arrival dates (if people are visiting)
- Party dates
- School, religious, office, and volunteer functions
This article comes from the October/November issue of ADDitude.
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