Freckles in April: Don't Put Off Until Tomorrow What Could be Done Today. Or, How I Stay Sane During the Holidays

Friday, November 3, 2017

Don't Put Off Until Tomorrow What Could be Done Today. Or, How I Stay Sane During the Holidays

From our 2013 visit to Chicago and the Christkindlmarket

I spent years feeling vaguely discontented by the holiday season. Since I became an adult it feels like I have never had enough time to really get into the spirit of it. The Christmas activities I really wanted to do often got dropped just because we never got around to them. I often thought about things a hair too late to actually get them done (looking at you, neighbor gifts). It all seemed rushed and unsatisfying.

When my oldest was a baby I decided it would help a lot if all the gifts were bought and wrapped by the time December rolled around. I've gotten really good at this over the years- I have a spreadsheet with everyone I need to buy for that I re-use every year. I start keeping my eye open for gift options in July and usually have half my list covered by the end of October. I finish the rest of my Christmas shopping in November and get it all wrapped before December 1st. It takes a lot of the stress off! But it didn't go quiiite far enough.

with the siblings at the Mesa temple lights. Which we didn't even get to a couple years ago just never happened.

At some point I started using the first week of November as my holiday planning and prep week. This makes the entire holiday season SO MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE for me. I'm not stressed. Everything gets done. I get to do all the extras I want to do. It's amazing how much it helps me get in the right groove.

Here's how it works for me:

I sit down sometime during the first week of November and write two lists: things that I need to do for the holidays and things I want to do. I break each item down into individual to-do lists and then I do as much as humanly possible that week. Could it be done later? Sure. But why put it off if I can get it done now when life isn't as crazy?

Here's what my list looks like this year-

-email families- who is hosting? [me]
-plan menu [created Pinterest board]
-make side dish assignments for parents and in-laws [check!]
-plan decor [went to Michael's, got garlands for 80% off]
-Ask mom about china

Family Photos
-Schedule with Aaron [doing these Saturday!]
-Coordinate outfits [we had almost everything, only had to buy a sweater for The Caboose]

Christmas Cards
-Send out address request [I use a google form and sheet to collect addresses every year. I post the form on FB, people fill it out and it auto-adds their info to my sheet. It makes life easy]
-Get family photos done
-Order cards
-Order Christmas stamps  [we're doing Snowy Day this year]
-Address and mail by Dec 1

-check spreadsheet [I use the same spreadsheet every year so I can see what I've done in years past and what I've traditionally spent on each person/family]
-gifts still needed: [made a list of the people who still need gifts]
-Shop! [between Amazon and a local fall boutique, I'm almost done! Just a couple people left]
-Buy gift wrap (TJ Maxx?)

Christmas Meals
- Get together with parents and in-laws to figure out who is doing what and where [this can wait a bit...I already bombarded them with Thanksgiving related emails and they need a breather before I attack them with Christmas Eve and day meal planning. But it's on my radar!]

Outdoor Christmas movie?
-ask Aaron if technically possible [still figuring this out]

Schedule Christmas Activities
-temple lights
-Favorite things party with Alta Mesa girls [scheduled!]
-Train park lights with neighbors [scheduled!]
-Christmas Performance of some sort [Found a local Nutcracker performance, bought tickets]
-Kids ornament making party [scheduled and got a Pinterest board started!]
-Aquarium with cousins when they're in town [scheduled!]
-Look into service opportunities

Neighbor Gifts
-Get molasses cookie recipe from mom
-Make list of neighbors [done!]

I did 90% of this during one naptime. If you look at the list, most of it involved a little focused computer time and some texting with friends and family. A few things need their own dedicated to-do lists before they happen but at least I've gotten the ball rolling and I won't be scrambling at the last minute to get things done (or have to cut something out altogether). I feel totally ready to enjoy the heck out of this Thanksgiving and Christmas season and I'm really looking forward to the things I have scheduled.

Do you have any special tips or tricks for making the holidays go more smoothly? Share in the comments! 


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  1. I really hope the outdoor movie works out! We do it for our Halloween party and it's always a hit. Nothing compares! Cheers!

  2. Oh my goodness, I LOVE the idea of having a holiday prep day after Halloween! I've done or at least thought about most of these but not all at once! Definitely doing that next year!!


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