Thursday, October 6, 2011

Holiday Planning Starts ... Now!

As I mentioned earlier, I am not ready for Christmas. I like to enjoy Halloween, all the Fall birthdays in our family, and Thanksgiving in their own time. But, in order to make the month of December run more smoothly, I start my planning now. Here are 10 tips for getting your holiday organized and ready so you can relax (okay, maybe not...) and be stress free come December.

1. Do you have a list? Santa has a list and he checks it twice, do you?
There is so much to remember, so I like to get it all down in a few lists. I like to write down who we need to get gifts for, jot down ideas, sales, etc. I also like to make a running list of things to do, and since I love to cook... what I will be making this year. My lists help me keep an eye on how much still needs to be done and keep plugging away early.

2. Get dates down. I like to make a game plan for who, what, when and where. I know December is going to be non-stop activities so I start scheduling things now. I will be inviting friends over this year to decorate gingerbread houses, so that date has been saved. I even like to plan out when we have our city shopping trip. Getting these things in early means I won't run out of time as the RSVP's and parties start rolling in.

3. Having company? Start "Winter" cleaning now. This year I will be having my Mother come visit and there is so much to be done around the house. The last thing I want to do is a mad dash clean-a-thon right before she arrives. With 2 small kiddos we have some pretty messy rooms and cluttered closets. I am starting with a room a day. This will help me budget my time and slowly work away at big projects.

4. Clean out the playroom. Just as my house could use to care and cleaning, I bet the kids have a bunch of toys we can throw out or give away. Since I know they will make a great Christmas haul, I take the opportunity to toss broken items, repair those teddy bear eyes that have fallen off, and box up toys my children have lost interest in or outgrew. Let the kids help  and get things ready for the new arrivals.

5. Stock the pantry. Since I love to cook and bake, I know I will be needing simple things like sugar, flour, chocolate chips, extracts and edible decorations, etc. Since I don't want to spend a lot of money on groceries and presents at the same time, I start stocking up now. Every trip to the grocery store I throw in a few small items. Butter can be frozen and other goods can be stored in the pantry till I need them. This means my grocery bill will not be out of control the week before the holiday.

6. Freeze Ahead! During the holidays I don't want to worry about silly things like breakfast or lunch, so I make and freeze some goodies ahead of time. Breakfast casseroles, biscuits, soups or chili and even baked french toast can be made and tucked away in the freezer to save time. Be sure to add the cooking instructions on top so you don't have to search for a recipe card later.

7. Schedule a few blog posts. If you are a blogger you don't want to be writing posts late at night...unless you like that sort of thing, of course! I will be prepping a few extra recipe posts and holiday photos ahead of time so I can spend more time with my DH and kiddos.

8. Set a date with your spouse. This tip is so overlooked! Holidays can be stressful on relationships, so why not set a night aside to get out of the house. Catch a holiday movie or just have dinner. Just enjoy each other and don't worry about the holidays. They will still be there when you return. No spouse? Then set aside a little time for yourself. Get a mani/pedi or a massage, just take a little "Mommy time out".

9. Assess the stockpile of holiday supplies. I don't mean a holiday version of hoarders, but having a supply of boys, gift tags, clear tape and wrapping paper can save extra store runs later. I usually pick up some items after the season is over, but keep your eyes peeled for good sales now. I like to wrap gifts as I get them and having the supplies helps me keep up with this and save a mad dash to wrap at the last minute.

10. Get my holiday cards done. This is one I am working on right now. Sort your photos now in October or get some new family photos done. I love receiving holiday cards right after Thanksgiving. This year mine will be ready to go out the end of November. Be sure to check out Storkie Christmas cards.
There are many styles, classic to modern, to choose from. Complete customization is available to make their cards your own. So, what style will you choose?

Okay, that's my list and I'm sticking to it. I know everyone has their own traditions and ways to prepare for the holidays. Hopefully some of my tips will get you ready a little sooner and give you a little longer to sit and enjoy your hot cocoa by the fire with family.

Have a great tip to add? Please share in the comments.

*Disclaimer - I wrote this blog post while participating in the Storkie holiday blogging program. I received compensation for my participation. All opinions are 100% mine.
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