Getting ready for the holidays can be tricky. We already have a packed life, and we must show our best for all the festivities. But it doesn’t have to be a stressful and last-minute mile-long to-do list festival. A little planning and tips will change how you live this period of the year. Brace yourself for an easier way to shine during the holidays, and keep reading!
Your stress-free holiday prep
If you’re like I tend to be without my bullet journal, you may find yourself on December 1st with a bunch of questions: what gifts to offer, where to buy them, how to make the house clean enough not to be ashamed of it, and what will you cook for Christmas meal? It looks like an enormous task, but we can deal with it.
There is a tip you see everywhere, and it makes you cringe, but, for all that, it stays a good tip: to limit the stress of holiday prep, it’s better to start sooner. It will give you space to deal with the unplanned, time to make decisions, and you’ll shop as much as possible before the shops are packed.
Your plan for getting ready for the holidays
Starting sooner won’t make you organized all of a sudden. You’ll need to create a plan. First, list what you have to do. This article will help you with that step. Then, decide when you’ll do each task. You can accomplish some early, like finding gift ideas. Take advantage of it! You know that the nearer we are to the holidays, the busier we get. So plan to do your different tasks as soon as possible.
Another element adding stress during this season is money. Between the gifts and the meals, this is a lot to spend. Start by evaluating how much you can dedicate to this period. Remember that if you start soon enough, you can save more or more easily. But stay realistic and don’t expect you’ll never spend more than you should. With this amount, define a budget by choosing how much you’ll keep for each element: gifts, meals, trips, decorations, outfits, etc… To check that it’s feasible, calculate the cost per person and adjust if necessary.
The gifts project
My best tip: listen to your loved ones during the year. For example, during Summer a few years ago, I heard my mother-in-law complaining about how her vegetables rotted before she got time to eat them. I had bought air-thigh containers before and loved them (keeping lettuce fresh for up to two weeks? Yes, please!). So I suggested that my husband buy some for his mother as a Christmas gift. He was glad not to have to find an idea in December, and his mother told us how she uses the boxes often. Win-win! I have a page in my bullet journal to keep those ideas, but a note on your phone or even a hidden sticky note can work as long as you can use it to record your thoughts when they come.
As you’ll have your gift ideas earlier, you don’t have to wait until the last minute to buy them. Take advantage of possible promos, but don’t let them trick you into buying more.
If we listened to ourselves, we’d spoil our loved ones with gifts, but a little restraint can make our lives more manageable for the rest of the year. Giving too many gifts can generate clutter you’ll have to deal with later. One of the solutions is to prefer clutter-free gifts.
Some are even suitable for children. You can think of experiences, like a day in a place they love, consumables like chocolates or homemade food. I make jams every year for my and my husband’s families, which are a success. To make them clutter-free, I ask family members to return the jars so I reuse them after sterilizing. Other gifts that don’t add clutter include classes, memberships, or help during the year.
Lastly, you can ask your loved ones what they need. With the current economy, maybe the best gift you can offer is a little peace of mind regarding late bills. It isn’t glamorous, but you’re sure it will be helpful! One year, I got money for my kitty’s shots, and it was a relief to know she was protected.
Get your cleaning ready for the holidays
We want our home to be pristine when our guests enter, but this is not the time for a whole deep cleaning. You already have so much to do! So, focus on the spaces your guests will use and clean the rest as usual. I made a cleaning plan last year to avoid scrubbing and tidying everything at the last minute. You start 3 weeks before D-day and leave the overwhelm behind as you’ll need, on average, half an hour daily.
Delight your guests with your best meal
Did you know food allergies can break out at every stage of life? This is an example of why you should check with your guests if they have food intolerances or distastes. You’ll avoid having to cook something at the last minute because one of your guests became suddenly allergic to paprika ( like my husband did in his thirties).
Once you know what you need to avoid, choose your menu. For that, don’t forget to consider the prep time and if you can make part of it ahead of time. To help start the thinking wheels, I choose a theme for the meal before searching on Pinterest. That way, you’ll get new ideas instead of the classic dishes.
With your menu in sight, write your shopping list and mark what you can buy early. You’ll spend less time in the stores just before your big day and spread the costs. Also, plan when you’ll make the different steps of the recipes. The more organized you’ll be, the less it will be stressful.
Way for the holiday decorations
Of course, the holiday season can’t be complete without decorations. Are yours neatly put away in coordinate boxes or more like a giant sparkling monster? If you’re more on the second side, taking time to sort them beforehand will make decorating smoother.
To get ready for the holidays, ahead of decoration time, remove the broken decorations and those you don’t like anymore. If some items in the second category are still in good shape, consider donating them.
On decorating day, be strategic. Start by a corner of a room and finish it before moving to another one. Be sure to clean and dust the places where you’ll put the decorations. It would be a pity your garlands showcase cobwebs!
Also, remember your home is not a showroom; it’s where you live. So keep things practical, and do not add unnecessary stress when you use your decorated elements. When I was little, we always put a garland on top of an old wardrobe where my mother kept the nice tableware. By the time she set the table, she was already nervous, and this hanging thing only worsened her state.
If the idea of not having new decorations every year or thinking of storing them afterward bothers you, have you tried renting holiday decorations? It’s available for private individuals only in some countries, but it’s worth a look if this solution interests you.
Dress yourself to shine
If the holidays go with a new outfit for you, I suggest you prefer versatile clothes you can dress up or down with accessories. They will be easier to wear again during the rest of the year and won’t clutter your closet.
But you can start by shopping in your closet and looking at clothes you already have to create a new outfit. The accessories can also make a whole difference. If you do it ahead of time (like before December 1st for Christmas or November 1st else), you’ll be more relaxed to find the missing pieces. And saving on your outfit can allow you to have your make-up or hairstyle professionally done for D-day. I did it last year, and it was so calming to have someone taking care of me for an hour!
With this guide, when someone talks about stresslessly getting ready for the holidays, you can reply, “Challenge accepted!” Starting early, you can put some money aside and shop before the rush. Your well-planned prep will go smoothly, as you’ll have time to catch up if life does its life things.
So, take a pen and paper or your favorite time-management app, plan and budget. Ask about food intolerances to establish your menu. Review your clothes and decorations and list what you need. Then, shop early when possible and keep following your plan. Last, enjoy what a difference this organization has made when your guests arrive.
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