12 Days of Holiday Organizing:Countdown to A Successful Celebration
by Debbie Williams
It’s that time of year again. The holidays are almost upon us. We know it arrives at the same time every year, and yet it sneaks up on us year after year. However, your holiday preparations don’t have to be stressful if you create a holiday countdown, a checklist if you will, to halt the holiday madness:
Day 12 – Be prepared.Create a budget for your gift purchases and stick with it. This will determine who is on your gift list, and how what you will purchase. Then make a detailed gift list and keep it with you in your purse, briefcase, or planner for quick reference. Write down a few ideas for presents, based on the preferences of those on the list and hints they have given you throughout the year.
Day 11 – Slow down.Utilize slow times to run your errands so that you won’t burn out. Shop for groceries in early mornings or late evenings (not during lunch hour or after work), visit the malls during your lunchbreak while others are at work or in the classroom, and try to avoid standing in line if at all possible. Take bottled water and a snack for quick energy.
Day 10 – Take stock.Start stocking the freezer for quick meals. Just double a recipe every day this week and you’ll have instant leftovers. You’ll thank yourself in the busy days to come.
Day 9 – Limit interruptions.Learn how to screen incoming interruptions to eliminate stress at the job and home. Use voicemail, caller i.d., and email filters to avoid chaos creators.
Day 8 – Helping hands.Hire a babysitter or mother’s helper to watch the kids while you shop, wrap gifts, or visit your favorite day spa.
Day 7 – Delegate.Delegate simple decorating and gift-wrapping tasks to others. Small children love to help by adding bows or gift tags to presents, while visiting grandparents can polish silver or press linens.
Day 6 – Multi-tasking.Multi-task whenever possible so that you can play and work at the same time. Watch TV while polishing silver, or listen to classical music while ironing table linens. Try to avoid isolating yourself from the rest of the fun while you’re working on your to do’s.
Day 5 – Game plan?Create a game plan for your holiday meal. Cook rolls, stuffing, desserts, and meats in smaller portions for easy heat and serve dinners on the big day. Focus your efforts on family time, rather than kitchen duty.
Day 4 – Check it out.Take an inventory of the linen closet so that there are no surprises as you serve the turkey. Is your best tablecloth stained, or did Uncle Bert’s cigar burn a hole in one of your damask napkins? Maybe it’s time to assemble paper and plastic ware for the big day instead. (Sometimes it’s better to lower your expectations of a perfect tablescape than to spend all your time washing dishes in the kitchen. I doubt anyone will call the Entertainment Police!)
Day 3 – Open heart, open home.Consider having an open house rather than trying to squeeze in several parties. Invite everyone to visit one home at staggered times for some good cheer. This can work on the big day too, especially if all the in-laws live in town. It sure beats driving around all day from house to house to see those you love!
Day 2 – Speedy delivery.Order take-out or pull a prepared meal from the freezer for a stress-free meal today. Let the oven rest for tomorrow’s big feast.
Day 1 – The Main Event.Start the morning with easy preparations in the kitchen, leaving other items for the last minute. Chop vegetables, mix dips, then assemble snack trays for munching. Put the turkey in the oven, set the table, and bake pies. Leave candles, music, and last minute preparations for later. Leave the house to take a stroll around the block, enjoy a bubblebath, or listen to some relaxing music before your family or friends arrive. Enjoy yourself. You’ve earned it!
And the day AFTER Christmas, make next year’s ‘to do’ so that you won’t have to work so hard again! Shop year round for gifts, decorations, and cards for those you love. Keep a running list of things you need, should not do again, and tips for making things easier on you and your household. Getting organized for the holidays is truly a process, but with some effective planning you can enjoy the journey. Happy Holidays!
Debbie Williams is an author and speaker who offers tools and training to help you put your life in order. Read more practical tips like these in Debbie’s book, Common Sense Organizing (Champion Press, January 2005).