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How To Deal With Pre-Christmas Panic

Updated on December 15, 2011

When the Clock's Run Down To Single Digits

So.... Christmas is less than ten days away (yikes!), and you haven’t finished your shopping, baking, and decorating, not to mention the burgeoning card list that you’re been neglecting. Everything is becoming one giant red and green blur that is threatennig to dampen those Holiday spirits. Your frustration is catapulting you into full-fledged Panic Mode, and the virus is starting to affect the entire household. What do you do?

STOP. That’s the first step. Just stop, step back and sit down for more than a minute. Pretend that you’re relaxing; then take a few moments for the visualization to take hold. When you feel a bit more calm, stay seated. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and make a mental LIST of everything that needs to be done. Next, grab a pen and paper and WRITE IT DOWN before you forget.

Next, PRIORITIZE. Decide what must be done by Christmas. (Actually, that’s not as difficult as it might seem.) Do this by the process of ELIMINATION, and you’ll find that the only chore that must be completed is buying and wrapping gifts. Sure, you want to get those cards addressed and in the mail, but is it absolutely necessary that it be done before the Holiday? For the past few years, we’ve been receiving an increasing number of cards complete with newsy notes and letters a week or two after Christmas. As the recipient, it’s nice to be able to have some free moments when I can take the time t sit down and enjoy reading those epistles. So if the card-writing task is just too daunting, relax.Your friends probably will be thrilled to get your card/letter when all the Holiday acitvities have wound down and there's actually time to read it.

Okay, that takes care of the cards. What about the decorations? If you don’t have anything displayed by this time, you’d better put decorations on the back burner for this year and just worry about putting up the tree. (I’m a Christmas Fanatic, which means, among other things, that I have so many decorations to drag out of various hiding places throughout our small house, I start that task on Thanksgiving.) If your tree is artificial, enlist a family member to drag it out of wherever it’s been stored and set it up. Decorating can be left to Christmas Eve. In fact, that’s the tradition with many people. If you always get a live tree, pick a date and make sure you and your spouse, kids, whoever partakes of the tree-buying tradition leaves the date open. If you usually tromp through the woods and cut down your own, consider skipping the woods part; simply go to the closest tree farm that sells freshly-cut trees from its own forest, pick one out without too much arguing, pack it up, take it home and then profuesly thank whoever volunteers to put it in the stand and bring it into the house.

That leaves the baking. (This one’s easy.) Sure, everyone has to have the eye-popping, mouth-watering array of Christmas cookies, fudge, fruitcake, and (if there’s a touch of British in the family), a flaming plum pudding. If the family is adamant that the goodies must be homemade, then plan a day or two when you can devote your time to whipping up just a few of the family favories (e.g., the time-honored chocolate chip cookies and the revered family recipe cutouts.) Then head to your favorite local bakery and buy the rest. Odds are, if the favorites are available, noone will notice that the other ones on the plate were bakery-bought (technically, they’re homade, too... just not at your home).

Where does that leave you? Hopefully, it leaves you with the time to get out there to your favorite mall or outlet center (or-even easier- to turn on your laptop, as long as you can find a few cyber-merchants who will guarantee delivery by Christmas), and finish your shopping. Don’t plan to “wing it”: make sure you take a list with you and take advantage of the free gift wrapping some stores offer. If you still have to wrap some of your gifts, consider purchasing some of those nicely-decorated Holiday bags (available at your local dollar store, among other places) and some tissue paper... much easier than measuring, cutting, and taping.

If you follow these steps, you should be ready for the Holidays with time to spare. In fact, you might even be able to decorate a bit more and whip up another batch or two of cookies before Santa heads for the chimney. If you’d like to throw a Holiday party, that’s another story. Stay tuned.


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