12 Ways to Prepare for This Holiday Season
Surprise---Holidays Are Here!
If you look at the calendar ahead of time you will always see each holiday marked on the calendar, right? So, why is it that year after year you hear "Oh, no, it's November already? Thanksgiving? December, Christmas?"
During the year, life takes over for the first ten months of the year and then panic, shock and STRESS hit in November. So, who really has the time to cook, host, decorate, shop, work, take care of the kids; and an endless other myriad of duties to take care of; let alone get everything ready for the imminent festivities?
Well, I'm here to help with some very simple tips and strategies to make it easy for those of us that love the holidaysand want that true holiday spirit, but not all the WORK that goes with it.
1. Plan Ahead
You plan a trip. You plan a vacation. You plan your day. Why not plan your holidays a year in advance and commit to it? Write out an agenda or outline as a family contract or family constitution with amendments and allow for changes within the first six months of the year.
Coordinate this at the beginning of the year and consult with all of those members of the family that have decided to participate in hosting festivities. Set a time and date to discuss it; be it on the phone, email, text, or face book and plot out all the dates and all the details.
Finalize all plans at least six months in advance as things do change. This will prevent any family members or friends from saying or feeling not part of the party planning.
Keep the lines of communication and compromise open during these months.
2. Choose A Theme for Gifts
One year we decided to just do Gift Certificates for the kids. Another year, we chose magazine subscriptions. This year, we are choosing apparel.
Pick a theme and run with it.
3. Have A Kris Kringle Celebration
This is always fun and affordable. Pick a home. Pick a gift amount limit. Bring a dish and everyone goes home with a gift and fun memories of picking a gift they will love.
4. Ask For Help
Do not be afraid to ask for help. Yes, we want to do it all and to say that we did it all, but you can't do it all and not burn out at the same time. So, go ahead and nudge your spouse, friend or cousin and ask for help.
Ask and you shall receive.
5. Edible Gifts
Food gifts are great. Get some inexpensive, pretty boxes from your local $.99 cent store and then make some fudge, cookies, brownies and decorate them nicely and box them with pretty and festive décor and you will have an instant and yummy gift. Add personalized ribbon or make simple tags from your PC at home and you'll have a professional and decorative looking gift.
6. Gifts For Those Present Only
Oh, the thought of what I call, "leftover gifts". This always bothers and stresses me so now we make sure that if we know that person is in town (See my Plan Ahead section above) then we make sure we purchase a gift, if not, well, Happy Holidays anyway.
Too often when you purchase gifts that you never get to give we end up forgetting about it and then it's too late to get the full purchase price, you lost the receipt or you just do not have the time to get your money back and the gift sit there. Not anymore. Gifts are for those I know I am going to see during the holidays only. Sorry, I don't have time to stand in line at the Post Office or the money to mail it.
7. Organize Events With Evites
Evite.com is an awesome site. It is like your own personal assistant. You can request that guests bring a dish, gift, etc. They can view the invitation on their mobile phones or any device and they can list who they are bringing. It automatically tallies the responses and updates you every time someone accepts, declines or is on the fence about attending. You can link it to your Facebook, Twitter or other social network site and it also provides directions and the option to text them to your phone. It will also send a reminder note to your guests of your event one week prior.
8. Electronic Wish Lists
I have to admit, this works! It works every year with my 8 year old. Why? It's fun. It's free and it's an organized person's dream (Me!).
My son's God Mom told me about this, one year, when she asked me, "What does the baby want for Christmas?" And I said, "Mmmmmm, I don't know, let me talk to him and I'll get back to you." She said, "Just have him do an online wish list and then email it to me and then you can check it off? It's free and it's great for "Santa" to know exactly what he wants!" My son's God Mom is a genius!
Ever since then my son will log onto toys r us, barnes and nobles and Target and create his electronic wish list. What a great concept. It keeps me organized and it's budget friendly as well because I always tell him "Santa, is also on a budget so let's keep the cap at 5 items under $20, ok? Also, Santa is getting older and things get heavy for him." My son always agrees. So, there, easy, fun, organized, affordable, and simple. The best thing is that now every time someone in the family asks what my son wants for Xmas I can easily email the list and they can choose a very affordable and personalized gift that they know exactly the child will love. Oh, and Santa scores major brownie points too!
9. Shop Online
Although Black Friday is the ultimate shopping day, it's way too stressful, cumbersome and inconvenient for some. Me, personally, I would rather be sleeping and then waking up ready, willing and able to shop online in the comfort of my home and my PJs. No line to stand on. No throngs of maddening, foaming-at-the mouth people racing toward the $200 flat screen t.v I just grabbed and no crazy parking lot politics to deal with.
Shop online and browse stores like Bath and Body works and Old Navy.com with great free shipping and buy one get one free offers and online coupons sometimes better than in store.
Relax and shop away on line.
10. Shop At The Pharmacy!
This is my best kept ultimate last minute shopping secret----THE PHARMACY. Have you been to CVS? Walgreen's or Duane Reade lately? My favorite is my local CVS. Why? It has a great table wine selection. An awesome greeting card area with all kinds of gift wrap and supplies for wrapping gifts. And what about the beauty counters? Some have high end beauty counters with trained professionals to do your make-up and even give you a free consultation.
The best part is the fact that there are nice, inexpensive gift ideas already pre-packaged that you can gather quickly and stress-free. In addition, there are huge selections of store gift cards and even American Express, Visa and MasterCard Debit cards that you can give away as well. The self-check out counters make it even faster to get in and get out.
Shop your local pharmacy and be pleasantly surprised.
11. Stay Home
Many a times, just traveling to places can be extremely stressful during the holiday season so this year--Stay home!
Let everyone know that you intend on spending a nice, quiet and intimate holiday season at home. However, extend the invitation anyway that if f anyone is interested in sharing in that time, there's an open door policy from a designated time. There's no obligation to anyone to come over, but that your home is available to celebrate in during those hours.
Trust me, I have done this and nothing makes people more comfortable than your honesty and openness. Some may take you up on your offer and others may do the same and stay home themselves.
No matter where, and who you are spending your holidays with, remember that these are the times to reflect back on your life, your loved one's and a new year to come. What better way than to just relax, relate and release!
Happy Holidays to All.